Mornington Peninsula’s St Andrews Beach Brewery has invested in the upgrade of its brewing capacity and packaging capabilities.
After two years in business the brewery and venue has invested in a new canning line, four fermenters and two brite tanks.
The investment has boosted tank capacity by 22,500 litres, and is aiding St Andrews’ plans to increase annual production to 500,000 litres a year. It currently brews in a 25hL Italian brewhouse, commissioned through FB*Propak.
Tim Purchase, marketing manager at St Andrews Beach and son of part-owners Andrew and Jane Purchase, said that the brewer plans to grow even further, following two years of major growth in which the young brewery won a Victorian tourism award and expanded past capacity.
“Our first year we brewed close to 250,000 litres which was a nice start.
“This year we’re aiming for half a million and have the ability to get up to 750,000 litres [that way], we can grow into it.”
The brewery decided to move to canning from bottles as consumer trends develop – with Beer Cartel’s latest Craft Beer Survey results launched last week indicating that cans have now surpassed bottles in popularity.
The brewery’s old bottling line could fill 500 bottles an hour, whilst their new canning machinery can produce 6,000 cans per hour.
“A couple of months in we outgrew that bottling line. We did some research and decided to invest in a new canning line,” explained Purchase.
“The reason why we bought one of that size and that speed is so that we can grow into it. In two or three years time, if we’d bought a smaller one, we’d be looking for a new one already.”
While financial considerations definitely informed the decision to move to cans, there were other reasons as well, he said.
“The other reason is that the market is more geared towards cans at the moment.
“There’s lots of benefits [to cans]. They’re more practical, lighter, more durable, cool the beer down quicker and they’re a lot more environmental.
“They’re easier to recycle and they don’t require as much packaging which is why I think brewers are going towards cans rather than bottles. There’s also a lot more real estate to work with from a branding point of view.”
The business was able to invest in the equipment by reinvesting profits from the business, as well as attracting another private investor, bringing numbers of investors in the business to seven.
St Andrews Beach opened in December 2017 on the site of a former horse trading stable.
It has been converted into a brewery with extensive room to expand. The stables are now dining areas, and the 1,200-metre training racetrack on the 92-acre estate is now home to a pear and apple orchard (consisting of English heritage apple varieties Michelin, Dabinett, Round Snout & Bulmers Norman) in preparation for the launch of craft cidermaking on site, which Purchase said was a “growth area” for the business.
“We’re hoping that by year four, which is two years away now, we’ll be able to produce cider on a commercial level,” he said.
“We’re on 92 acres so it was a good opportunity to use the land, and there are a couple of craft cider distributors on the Peninsula who have done a really good job.
“Out head brewer Matt Stitt (formerly of the Hope Brewhouse in the Hunter Valley) has a Masters in winemaking so he’s pretty confident he’ll be able to produce cider to a really good level.”
Purchase said that the success of the brewery since its launch had allowed it to invest in new equipment and diversifying the business.
“It’s very competitive for tap space and fridge space. We’re really fortunate that we have a venue that has been super popular both with locals and with visitors to the Peninsula.
“We’re lucky to have sold quite a lot of beer through our own venue, we’ve got really good distribution here and we haven’t even tapped into the Melbourne market yet, and we see that as a massive opportunity for us.”