After a series of frustrating delays, Melbourne’s Deeds Brewing can now see light at the end of the tunnel.
With construction nearly complete, the 2,200-square-metre production facility is well on its way to looking like a fully-fledged brewery.
Located in the quiet suburb of Glen Iris, Deeds Brewing is the brainchild of engineering graduates Patrick Alé and David Milstein.
During their time together at Melbourne University, Alé and Milstein decided that they wanted to own their own brewery. But with a large amount of capital not yet within their grasp, they opted to start with a drinks distribution business instead. Red Island Pty Ltd was established in 2003 as an Australian-owned premium beverage company first located in Port Melbourne.
Red Island’s first brand was Bolivian beer Pacena, which was followed by Argentinian beer Quilmes. From 2003 to 2012, Red Island had become successful enough for Alé and Milstein to establish their own beer brand, which was first established by contract brewing.
“Initially, because there was such a big outlay, we decided to start off contract brewing,” Alé explained.
“We had some success there but there were a lot of difficulties with contract brewing.
“We could never get consistency, initially especially, it was really hard to get brew slots, we couldn’t really do a lot of different styles, we were quite limited in terms of doing small batch it was pretty large batch.”
The right brewery site took a few years to find, with proximity to public transport, character and space to grow into, three major considerations.
For Alé, it was about isolating a site that would serve Deeds Brewing for the long term.
“It was really hard to find a site that ticked all the boxes,” he told Brews News.
The pair finally secured a former car workshop with an asbestos roof in Glen Iris in 2015 and purchased their brewery equipment in 2016, with an expectation to begin brewing in 2017.
But the brewery and proposed taproom were knocked back by council and VCAT.
Then, in January 2018, Deeds Brewing was finally given permission to start its brewery build with its first own-premise beers brewed in February 2019.
In addition to council complications, Deeds Brewing also struggled with its 25hL DME brewhouse. The brewery equipment manufacturer went into receivership late last year.
Fortunately for Alé and Milstein, they received their equipment and so there were no delays there. However, the pair were still left out of pocket.
“We had paid for commissioning our brewhouse by the DME consultant, which did not happen as the DME consultant was not paid by DME and therefore was not able to commission our brewhouse,” Alé explained.
“We also had a bunch of modifications that we had to make and certain parts that DME did not supply us.
“All these items were supposed to be covered by DME, however, as a result of them going under we ended up having to pay for it ourselves and being out of pocket by quite a lot as a result.”
While Deeds Brewing has not yet been granted a taproom licence, Alé and Milstein are determined to convince their local council and its constituents that a taproom will be good for the area.
Being a relatively conservative area of Melbourne, Alé said that gaining council approval for a taproom has been challenging.
“We had a lot of push back from local residents around the taproom side of it,” he explained.
“It’s been a really hard, slow slog.”
Alé said it was difficult to get across to the council and its residents what a taproom really is.
Because of the number of objections surrounding the proposed taproom, the duo decided to withdraw their application and continue with the brewery. Alé said that he has started a taproom petition, which has already been signed by more than 600 people.
The Glen Iris facility is a loud, busy construction hub, with brewing, packaging and building all underway at once. The now saw-tooth roof has been fabricated with just one more area to complete. There is also an underground waste-management facility onsite.
Up until just last week, Deeds Brewing has relied entirely on a generator for its power but Alé says that the power has now been upgraded, along with water and gas.
Deeds Brewing can produce just over one million litres per year with plenty of space to grow into the warehouse.
Deeds Brewing is located at 4 Paran Place, Glen Iris Victoria 3146.
Brewery openings are presented by Spark Breweries and Distilleries.
Read more: How to start a brewing company: Part One.