Brewpack and its proprietary beer brand Stockade have restructured and taken on new investors, with a 115-hectolitre brewery in Goulburn and a Sydney barrel room both slated to open in 2018.
Tribe Breweries Pty Ltd is the new umbrella company that supersedes the Brewpack name, while Stockade will continue to operate under its own brand identity.
Tribe has taken on investment from Melbourne-based private equity firm Advent Partners, Tribe co-founder and CEO Anton Szpitalak told Brews News.
“They back small and medium-sized companies. They’re great guys, they’ve been wanting to get involved in the beer space for a long time, but they haven’t seen anything that they really wanted to sink their teeth into. So when we were shopping around for partners, they seemed like a great fit,” he said.
Szpitalak said Tribe has also taken on other smaller investors and he expects its share register will continue to grow over time.
“As we see opportunities in the marketplace, whether it’s in craft beer or otherwise, we’re going to want to keep bringing people in,” he said.
The Szpitalak family formed Brewpack in 2012 when they acquired the assets of collapsed contractor Australian Independent Brewers.
What has transpired since has been very different to the stable, long-term investment his family were expected when they embarked on their foray into brewing, Anton Szpitalak said.
“This industry is growing so fast and we had a realisation 18 months ago that we need to go out there and work harder and be aggressive,” he said.
“We just sat down as a family and said, ‘it’s time for us to bring partners into the business to help us achieve our dreams sooner’.”
Tribe Breweries appointed corporate advisory firm Record Point to assist in raising $35 million last year to fund the Goulburn brewery, according to media reports.
Potential investors were told Tribe had 35 external clients plus its own brands, comprising current annual capacity of one million cartons of beer. It reportedly aims to increase production to three million cartons and onward to eight million in the future.
Szpitalak said the Tribe name better represents the companies’ collaborations “with a variety of artisans in both partner and proprietary labels”.
“When I first started this journey, it happened pretty quick and when we named the company Brewpack to begin with, it’s kind of what the business was doing, right? It was contract brewing and contract packing – it’s simple,” he said.
“[Now] it’s not really who we are. We’re a company who’s out there providing a collective home for so many brands. We need to do a better job of telling our story.”
Szpitalak said the existing brewery at Smeaton Grange will likely continue as normal once the new Goulburn facility, which has a 115-hectolitre brewhouse, becomes operational.
“Smeaton Grange has a great capability set for people who are looking for their first 50-hectolitre brew… their first beers to kind of kick them off,” he said.
“The Goulburn facility doesn’t have the same super small batch flexibility, so they’ll probably always start at Smeaton Grange and then make their way over to Goulburn when things get bigger.
“In the past, we cultivated these great brands and they got to a point where they would be big and then it would be challenging for us to keep up with them as they peered their heads above the crowd in the craft sphere,” he said.
Export and barrel room
Szpitalak said Tribe has quickly grown its international division to comprise ten per cent of volume in the space of 18 months.
This division comprises exports of Stockade beers and others made under contract for partners in South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand and mainland China.
And the Stockade brand is closing in on an opening date for its barrel room in Sydney’s craft beer heartland of Marrickville, which will have 300 barrels of beer in place when it opens to the public in the coming months.