Brisbane beat Newcastle to become the site of the Australian brewery, with support from the Queensland State Government and Brisbane Marketing.
BrewDog’s local head Zarah Prior told Brews News the perceived enthusiasm from the city’s beer community had proven a decisive factor.
“We’ve been so humbled by the support from local businesses as well as the local community who have shown a real passion for BrewDog to call Brissie home,” she said.
“It’s a city that’s on the brink of some incredible growth, and we can’t wait to be a part of that. There are tonnes of amazing local breweries we’re looking forward to working alongside and collaborating with.
“From local brewing pioneers Green Beacon and Newstead, through to up and coming breweries like our mates at Range Brewing.
“We are hugely appreciative of the support we received from Brisbane Marketing, Austrade, and the Queensland Government, all of whom played a role in sealing the deal for Brisbane.”
BrewDog said the riverfront brewery fits into Brisbane’s plans to become a new world city. The company is partnering with local developers NPD Property Group to build its state-of-the-art brewing facility in Brisbane’s Metroplex complex in Murarrie, 8km east of the CBD.
$30 million spend
BrewDog says the total investment in Australia may reach $30 million, including the construction of the 50hL brewing and canning facility. The 3,000 sqm site will also feature a restaurant, taproom and visitor centre.
The initial $10 million brewery development will be built and owned by the developers and leased to the Scottish brewery.
The brewer said it has then earmarked a further $20 million for its laboratory, taproom and growing bar division, which will be spent “over time”, dependent on growth.
The additional $20 million investment to some extent appears to be dependent on the company’s current crowdfunding campaign, Equity for Punks, which has listed the sum of £5 million as being set aside for the Australian brewery. The sum is set aside as part the ‘stretch goal’ for the campaign, if it raises £50 million.
The campaign was recently extended, having achieved its initial £10 million target, but at £12.26 million is currently short of that goal. BrewDog says that its local operation is not dependent on the Equity for Punks funds but will enable it to “invest more quickly” in its Australian operation.
The project is projected to create 150 jobs over five years. A head of production position will be amongst the first to be created and advertised soon.
The site, an industrial park at Murrarie on the south side of the river, is an unusual location for a brewery that aims to have a substantial taproom presence. Prior, who has been scouting Brisbane and Newcastle, said that the location was attractive for a number of reasons.
“We absolutely love that it’s riverfront. It is going to be a little bit of a trek, probably a driving destination, but we’re going to have so much car parking available,” she said.
“We love it already there in the Metroplex industrial estate that seems to be a bit of a community. There’s a lovely little park [and] further inside that a little lagoon. That being right on the river we get a lovely view across the golf course, we’re right underneath the [Gateway] bridge.
“And for us it was more about, ‘how we can draw people out there and make it somewhere people want to come to visit?’.
“It’s [also] great for distribution in terms of being right on the motorway to get south to service the other markets like Melbourne and Sydney,” she said.
BrewDog co-founder Martin Dickie, who was in town for the announcement, told Brews News the 50-hectolitre brewery was the culmination of a long term goal.
“Since we started the brewery, there were three things that we really wanted to do,” he explained.
“One was a start our own bar… Another was to have a distillery, which was Lone Wolf, which started last year, and the other was to have a brewery operation in Australia.
“It’s kind of close to my heart because my brother lives here, he moved to Australia ten years ago. He’s now a citizen of Perth.”
Asked whether local breweries may be concerned that the State government has courted BrewDog, while local breweries have been looking for greater support for local businesses, Prior said she did not feel this would be an issue.
“I hope not because while it’s [State Government support] a factor certainly in our decision to move to South East Queensland, if it was all about government incentives we we’d probably go into South Australia,” she said.
“I think for us, something that we can’t change is that we are a business that was born in Scotland and we’re now coming over to open a branch here in Australia.
“But I hope the people see from the philosophy of how that business is going to be run that we really want to become part of the Australian craft beer community.
“And if we do have learnings from 10 years of experience making great beer, that we can share them with the people here in Brisbane and with Australia across the board.
“We’re going to be very open with how we do things and what we’ve learned along the way.
“And if we can in any way use our brand and how well we’re known in the UK and in America for brewing great beer, we can use that to really help put Brisbane on the map as a beer destination.
“So far, from the breweries I’ve spoken to, they seem really excited about working with us to grow the pie – grow their share of craft beer here in Australia.”
Brewing by early 2019
The brewer hopes to have the brewery fully operational and locally brewed beers on the market by early 2019. BrewDog hopes to brew 2 million litres in its first year of operation, brewing its full line-up of headliner beers such as Punk IPA, Dead Pony Club and Jet Black Heart, as well as small-batch brews specifically for the regional market.
You can hear the full 40-minute interview with Zarah Prior and Martin Dickie on our podcast, embedded below. In addition to the choice of Brisbane, we discuss the definition of craft, BrewDog’s sale of a 22 per cent share of the business to private equity and whether its global expansion will see BrewDog bars become the equivalent of the Hard Rock Café for beer drinkers.