Brisbane’s Sea Legs Brewing Co opened quietly to the public just a few days shy of Christmas late last year after a building process fraught with delays.
Since locking in a lease in late February 2017, Sea Legs founders Tim Wyatt, Chris Davies, Dave Machin, Harvey McKibbon and Jon Fuchs have had to navigate an arduous process in opening their brewpub to the public.
Brewing veterans may be familiar with the administrative challenges associated with opening a brewery, but for the novice Sea Legs team the journey has been a learning experience.
Having secured development approval for the site in October 2017, it wasn’t until June 2018 that Sea Legs was able to break ground, hindered by an extensive appeal process by local residents.
“We didn’t intend on having such a along appeal,” Fuchs explained.
“We wound up putting in an equipment order that arrived in November 2017.
“We probably jumped the gun on that, we had the equipment sitting there from November till June collecting dust.
“It was painful to look at.”
More recently delays have come from utilities, especially having to wait a prolonged period for a gas connection.
“We weren’t able to brew until just the other day, specifically because we were waiting on a gas connection.
“So, there were a lot of things like that dragging us along.
“It got to the point where we were ready to open the venue without gas but that just meant we wouldn’t have our own beer brewed on site.”
Fuchs contract brewed at Yeerongpilly’s Slipstream Brewing where he brewed four of Sea Legs’ five core range beers, a golden ale, pale ale, lager and IPA.
The taproom opened with a golden ale and pale ale being served along with a limited food menu.
“We decided that it was a good time to open even with a lot to do still and so we opened with those two beers and filled the rest of our taps with beers from other local breweries that had helped us out a little bit.”
As a newcomer to the Australian beer industry, American Fuchs said that it was awesome to see just how tight knit the brewing community really is.
Sea Legs 15hL Tiantai brewhouse was finally commissioned last week with Fuchs’ first beer brewed on the new kit on Monday this week. A milk stout, this will make up the fifth and final beer in Sea Legs’ core range.
“We chose the milk stout specifically for dialling in the brewhouse.
“It went better than we expected, we hit all of our target numbers, our efficiency was pretty close and there were a few areas we could improve on in terms of functionality but that kind of thing comes with time.”
Fuchs told Brews News that after a huge clean, he would be brewing twice more this week.
The greatest lesson he’s learnt has been to never over or underestimate time.
“We always thought it was best to remain optimistic but we learned that we were way too optimistic in terms of timing and how things would pan out and what we might have been missing.
“But if I was going to do it again, and would absolutely do it again, I’d try to preempt quite a few things, be proactive, a little more conservative and also increase my budget.
“We always knew that our budget wasn’t right and that we were going to need more money, we just never knew exactly.
“It increased substantially but a big part of that was time.
“You start incurring costs at one point or another you know so I’d probably say that time was the biggest driving factor for us needing more money at any point in time,” Fuchs said.
The next few months will be a period for Sea Legs to iron out the kinks in the business.
“I think as we get to the point when we’re making consistent quality beer, from there we will probably look at packaging and those types of things,” he explained.
“But we absolutely won’t do that until we’ve got a consistent quality product.”
Sea Legs Brewing Co is located under the Story Bridge at 89 Main Street, Kangaroo Point Queensland 4169.