A Dan Murphy’s manager and 3 Ravens brewery assistant have teamed up to launch Melbourne’s latest brewpub – Braeside Brewing Co.
Rame Abdallah was a manager at a Dan Murphy’s store, where he met head brewer Charlie Tompson who was also working at the liquor store chain. Most recently, Tompson spent three years as a brewery assistant at 3 Ravens in Melbourne, learning the trade after previously homebrewing.
“I’ve been in the liquor game since I was 18, I started in hotels and worked my way to owning my own bottleshop, as well as working at First Choice and Dan Murphy’s,” explained Abdallah.
“It definitely helped us [having experience in the liquor industry] as we had a huge range of beers to try ourselves, so we know what beer we wanted to make, and we could visit breweries and speak to reps to get a feel for the market.”
He said the pair had decided to open the brewery three years ago when they were both working a night shift together. It was a 30-second conversation which started the ball rolling for the Braeside project. A trio of investors including Abdallah, his wife Anni and his brother raised the capital for the brewery.
“Market research was our first step [after that]. Researching what our point of difference would be, and finding the location, but most of the time was spent researching the costs involved in setting up the brewery,” said Abdallah.
“Our family and friends have been super supportive in all decision making – no one tried to talk me out of it!
“It was very difficult finding the location, it took just under two years to find. We viewed many venues but they just weren’t the right fit or in the right area.”
They settled on the current site on Governor Road because of their love of the suburb.
“Mordialloc was my number one choice, as I’d spent so many years here as a kid. But we also wanted at least 400 square metres of space and some sort of beer garden.”
Braeside is taking a family-friendly approach with a children’s area, which is currently being road tested by Abdallah’s two-year-old Apollo and Tompson’s one-year-old Millie.
Meanwhile Braeside’s brewkit is one of the venue’s major features according to Abdallah, and they have commissioned a K5 Direct electric brewhouse from Spark Breweries and Distilleries.
“We’re not going into the packaging side of the business, it will be strictly kegs only, because we wanted to have full control of quality and also the flexibility to trial different batches.
“We can get weird and wonderful at the drop of the hat.”
For now though, Tompson is focusing on Braeside’s core range, including a midstrength, XPA, pale ale, lager, IPA, and red IPA.
The wider Kingston area, which includes the Mordialloc suburb, already has a proliferation of breweries nearby, including Bad Shepherd, Wolf of the Willows, which has just launched plans for its own brewery, 2 Brothers and Boatrockers.
With so many brewpubs in Melbourne, it’s hard for new entrants to stand out.
“We don’t want to be the same as everyone else. We went and visited a large number of breweries and spoke to brewery owners and we found our little niche in our area,” explained Abdallah.
“Everything from our signwriters to our plumbers, and our butcher is around the corner and our grocer is a couple of kilometres away from us. We’re focused on keeping everything as local as possible.”
So far, the response from the council and local people has been encouraging.
“It’s overwhelming the amount of support we’ve had from the locals, they’re popping in and checking the progress, we’re giving them the sample beers and they love them so far.
“In these areas they’re really receptive to craft beer. Customers are intelligent when it comes to craft – they know what they like and what they don’t, and we’re all about listening to what the customer wants.”
The venue, which has a capacity of around 80 people, will also have a full commercial kitchen including a wood fire pizza oven which will produce the brewery’s “drawcard” menu item, as well as offering sharing platters.
The brewery is only weeks away from opening, with plans to launch in November this year, just in time for Christmas. Final touches are being completed and once it gets an the OK from the building inspector, it will be full steam ahead.
It’s been a hard road to get to this point, but worth it, said Abdallah.
“I just love the industry and I wanted to get into manufacturing side of it. It’s a fun industry, I want my workplace to be a good place to work and you’ve got to take a risk to get a reward.”
Braeside will be open before the end of the year at 43 Governor Road in Mordialloc.
Brewery openings are presented by Spark Breweries and Distilleries, the finest in-venue and production brewing systems available, with local design and support.