Former working racehorse training facility and home to multiple Melbourne Cup winners, St Andrews Beach Brewery is coming up on its first year on the Mornington Peninsula.
With summer and the busy season fast approaching, the brewery, restaurant and farming business is abuzz with activity.
St Andrews Business Development Manager Tim Purchase said that “it’s been a big big first year”.
The biggest surprise for the St Andrews team has been the sheer amount of people that are visiting the brewery.
“Basically from day one, just the numbers have been off the charts, especially during the peak times and weekends,” Tim explained.
“We had no idea it was going to be this busy.
“You can do all the planning in the world but until you’re open you don’t really know how it’s going to go.”
The other surprise for the brewery has been how diverse the spectrum of visitors has been.
“The other day, we had a booking for a first birthday, we had a couple of twenty firsts, a fiftieth birthday and a fortieth wedding anniversary.
“The amount of people and the diversity of people has been cool to see as well.”
Tim described the growing popularity of the Mornington Peninsula and how it has become a massive tourist attraction.
“The Peninsula is in a really really good place at the moment, visitation has never been higher.
“So, I think we’ve fitted into that mould.
“Also, we like to hope that the space is a nice inviting space for people with their friends and family to come and relax, because it is quite a unique venue.
“And then obviously, we’d like to think and we hope that people are attracted here because of the beer.”
Since St Andrews opened on December 20 last year, the space the brewery and restaurant occupies hasn’t changed too much. The beer garden is still flanked by converted horse stables that act as the dining area, together with an indoor outdoor pavilion-style bar area that’s backed by the brewhouse.
When it comes to the farming side of the business, things are starting to grow.
The fruit trees are starting to thrive just as St Andrews becomes home to 25 piglets, 10 lambs and a brood of more chickens. The hops are just starting to grow as well, which Tim said will play a small role in all of St Andrews beers.
The brewery, led by quality brewer Dermot O’Donnell, head brewer Matt Stitt and assistant brewer Louie Purchase, started off producing four core range beers, including a pale ale, an Australian lager, a pilsner and a golden ale.
Tim said that it wasn’t long before the brewery team realised that they were missing out on sales because they didn’t have a mid or light-strength beer offering. So, after just two months, St Andrews starting brewing a mid-strength session ale that Tim said went really well and is now included in the core range.
St Andrews has also produced several specialty beers in its first year, including a west coast IPA and Baltic porter. It will be releasing a couple more beers for summer, the first in a couple weeks time and the second over the New Year.
The FB*PROPAK brewhouse has been in operation non-stop since the start of November last year.
Tim said that St Andrews is currently looking at plans to increase capacity with additional fermenters and brite tanks.
St Andrews Beach Brewery is located in Fingal on the Mornington Peninsula.