Gulf Brewery founder Peter Fitzsimons is looking to sell the pioneering South Australian craft business after 14 years at the helm.
The sale of Hahndorf-based Gulf Brewery includes all brewery equipment, as well as its Cellar Door, a 125-seat bar in the Adelaide Hills. Speaking to Brews News, Peter said he was about to celebrate a milestone birthday and it was time to think about retirement.
“I’m getting old – it’s a physically demanding job and there’s a lot of weekend work – my wife’s had enough of it,” he said.
Peter is looking to do more international travel following the sale of the brewery, after more than a decade developing the brand.
Gulf Brewery started as a dream in 2003, and by 2005 Peter had launched and registered the business on the back of one of the first waves of Australia’s craft beer revolution.
Peter said some of the biggest industry changes have happened in the past few years, with growing consumer awareness of the craft beer industry.
“When we started it was very boutique industry. Very few outlets knew what craft beer was, and getting people in hotels and bars to understand that this was something different was a challenge.”
He said that in the early days Gulf had a relatively simple beer menu, including IPA and English pale ale styles.
“Now we’ve got nine beers which vary widely from the generic to the purely craft-only market, so we’ve moved on from that simpler offering.
“A lot more people have entered the market and there’s a lot more understanding of the beers on the market too.”
The trend towards a better-educated consumer and the growing demand for different, increasingly diverse beers has almost gone from one extreme to the other, according to Peter.
“People are now asking for specific things or flavours, and one-offs, but it’s hard to produce one-offs and it’s hard to do it and make money.
“One-off beers are never a perfect product, whereas our regular beers are the same good quality all the time.
“You do tweak them over the years – if a new hop variety comes out we can tweak it and make it better.”
Peter said there’s been increased demand for different products, and crazes come and go over time.
“At one point cider became a major trend and that has sort of peaked, but now we see a lot of boutique gins.
“The market has changed a lot but there’s also a lot of choices out there which is good.”
Peter said that they can make the transition painless for anyone thinking of buying the brewery, with training on all of the processes, equipment and recipes.
He also gave some advice to anyone thinking about starting a brewing business.
“Brewing is easy, but sales are hard work. Find someone who enjoys selling to work for you. There are people out there who love selling beer, wine and spirits – there are people that live and breathe it,” he explained.
“But it’s not all hard graft.
“Brewing is a lifestyle. I’ve really loved it. The people you meet are awesome, and I’ve loved that – it’s definitely something I’ll miss.”
Email Gulf Brewery for more information.