The Brisbane bayside suburb of Sandgate is going to get another new brewery that promises to be a little different.
Co-founder Russell ‘Rusty’ Gee started his career in the beer industry in the engineering department at Brisbane’s XXXX brewery but currently runs his own engineering business in Sandgate, working predominantly with clients in the food industry.
A family visit to the United States in 2016 left Gee with the idea that he could start a brewing business in Australia.
“In 2016 I went to the US because I was looking at expand some of our engineering work over in the USA,” Gee said.
“I took my family with me and we did a tour down the west coast and spent a bit of time in Chicago and LA and the craft beer scene over there was quite prominent and I thought, ‘well, we love a beer here in Australia’.”
As he waits for approvals to come through, Gee told Brews News that he is in the process of designing and building every piece of equipment from brewhouse to canning line at the Sandgate site.
To begin with, Gee is building a pilot system, which he said will have a starting capacity of about 80,000-litres per annum. When the system is running optimally, he said that it will be able to produce about 200,000-litres.
“The pilot brewhouse is designed by me and is being built out of equipment from the food industry,” he explained.
“It’s been cobbled together with equipment from customers from my engineering business – surplus equipment and that sort of thing.
“It’s certainly going to be the ugly duckling of the brewing industry.
Because of its design, Gee doesn’t refer to the size of the brewhouse, more the total throughput.
“The pilot brewhouse is designed as a batch for continuous… so smaller batches faster,” he explained.
“It’s designed to run for about 14 hours, after which it should produce about 1,600 litres of beer.
Once the first brewhouse is complete, Gee said that he would begin working on his main, much larger brewhouse, set to have an annual capacity of up to two million litres.
Gee has positioned his brewery to operate with a clear focus on production of scale, as well as offering brewery products and services through his engineering operation.
He explained that while brewpubs are a big growth market, “my engineering business side is developing an eternity system to supply into that brewpub market”.
“That’s the idea behind building the pilot system, so we’re looking at that as a capital equipment type business model and then as a production model to sell more beer.”
A small tasting room will be set up to run two sessions per week initially.
“Then if the demand is there, we will do more, but the focus is on… the race is on to get to two million litres.”
Rusty’s Brewing Company is located at 118 Connaught Street, Sandgate, Queensland, Australia 4017.
Brewery openings are presented by Spark Breweries and Distilleries.
Read more: How to start a brewing company : Part One.