Experienced Victorian brewer Ryan Fullerton is helping to launch a new brewpub, Bobs Beers, in Surfers Paradise.
Bobs Beers is set to open in the Queensland tourist hotspot on the Gold Coast. The site, on Elkhorn Avenue, is a three-storey commercial building previously home to fashion label Louis Vuitton.
According to development applications submitted to the Gold Coast Council, it has indoor seating for 52 patrons, and an outdoor area which has a capacity of 68. The basement function area will fit 50.
The project is being launched by Melbourne-based property developer Manjit Singh Uppal whose family-run business owns hospitality venues. The beer offering is being led by Fullerton, who worked at Red Duck Brewery in Ballarat before a stint at Bad Shepherd and then the Clifton Hill Brewpub in Melbourne.
Headhunted by the founders of Bob’s Beers Pty, who finally managed to pry him away from Victoria, he now has plans to move his wife and four kids up to the Gold Coast.
“Basically I got a message from a bloke who I’d never heard of asking me to do some consulting for him because he was wanting to build a new brewery, and I went sure, that sounds interesting. Halfway through the conversation I realised it was a job interview,” Fullerton said.
“It sounded really good. The only downside is you’ll have to move house [he says]. I’ve done long commutes before, but then he said it was Surfers Paradise.
“Half of me is quietly confident but the other half is absolutely terrified, until I had this interview I’d never set foot in Queensland in my life!”
The new brewery will be located in the old Louis Vuitton building on Orchid Avenue, a hub for the city’s nightlife which consists of backpackers and other tourists.
“They already had the brewery specced and ordered before I came on board, but the venue is still completely empty, so I’ve been able to have a say in certain architectural things and the layout of the brewhouse which arrives in a week or so, so it’s been great.”
Bobs Beer’s brewhouse itself is 12hL with four 12hL tanks and four 24hL tanks, he said, and has already started his research into local beer tastes.
“I’ve had a look at what people drink the most there, especially in Surfers Paradise, and honestly if I can do a good lager and a good XPA, that’ll be what pays the bills, and then I get six taps to have fun with.
“Red Duck releases 20 or 30 new releases every year and I was there for five years at least, and Clifton Hill was the same – they had six core range beers and 13 taps – so I’m used to throwing together interesting beers and most of them work out pretty well! At this stage I’ve probably put 400 or 500 recipes together…it can be nerve wracking.”
He said that his beers would be adapted to the heavily-tourist-focused demographic in Surfers, as well as the Queensland weather.
“I’ve been given some guidelines and done a few styles of beer.
“At the end of the day the vast majority will want something fairly easy drinking and for our own sake we don’t want anything too strong. At most we might have an IPA floating around the 6 per cent mark.”
There are no immediate plans to wholesale or go into packaged beer, but Fullerton is not ruling it out.
“I think down the track if the beer does particularly well then we might move to packaging some but at this stage it’s all going to be in kegs.
“We might ship to their other venues but for the most part it will be in-house,” he said.
Fullerton is a veteran of the industry, having started out at the Red Duck Brewery in Ballarat eight years ago, firstly in the warehouse before making his way to the packing line.
With only homebrewing experience in his garage behind him, he worked his way up to the brewery and learnt on the job.
After his time there, he did a stint at Bad Shepherd, but a five-hour commute there and back took its toll, and he found his last position at Clifton Hill.
Fullerton plans to bring his experience in Victorian breweries to the new Queensland site, especially his ability to operate different brewkits.
“Every brewhouse is different and some are closer than others but Red Duck to Bad Shepherd was world’s apart, and Bad Shepherd to Clifton Hill was the same again. You know all the processes but it’s like learning to drive a left-hand drive car. It’s subtly different in many, many ways.
“You learn something new in every job you do and you’d be an idiot not to carry that on. I’d really like to get a barrel programme going [at Bobs], but let’s get the core range beers going first.
“At the end of the day the main thing I’ve taken from all my roles is how to brew consistently good beer, and that’s priority number one.”
Bobs Beers will be located at 10/2 Elkhorn Avenue in Surfers Paradise, and it is set to be open before Christmas. Operating hours will be between 9am and 3am Monday to Sunday.
Brewery openings are presented by Spark Breweries and Distilleries, the finest in-venue and production brewing systems available, with local design and support.