There is increasing pressure on breweries to become multi-talented when it comes to their marketing and social media, but the owners of one-year-old Dandenong-based brewpub Bojak Brewing, Dale and Sue Messina, explained that it takes much more to be successful.
“Becoming known has been an ongoing challenge. Every weekend we still have such a large number of new people which is fantastic and as much as social media helps, it’s not everything. Word of mouth, and our wholesale distribution to a number of different craft bottle shops has made a huge impact in that aspect,” Sue Messina said.
As the popularity of craft beer continues to show a steady increase, the brewing industry is becoming increasingly saturated. This results in shelf space becoming increasingly limited in independent bottle shops, making it harder for craft breweries to get their brews into stockists.
“Getting beers in independent bottle shops is an ongoing challenge we face and many want to have their beers refrigerated which means even less space available,” explained Messina.
“We are currently stocked at around 40 bottle shops around Victoria including a large variety of IGA Liquor stores.”
Hospitality is an unpredictable industry and Sue explained it is difficult to know exactly what they will be in for on a given day.
“There is very little ability to be able to plan and have an idea who and how many will walk through the door, which can cause days to be a little slower than we would hope, but that’s all part of it, everything takes time. We have also had a juggle of late in balancing wholesale sales and ensuring our taproom is also fully stocked with beer.
“We pride ourselves not only on the product but also the variety we offer so accepting that we currently can only can two to three beers at time and still meeting demand for our popular beers like Legal Mess XPA and Calypso Hazy IPA has been an ongoing discussion for us.
“As many first-time business owners would know it’s an eight day a week job. With our little family, finding a balance has been tough too. We have incredible family support who have been there 100 per cent to help us when we needed it. From having the kids for an extended period, to coming late at night to help in the bar we couldn’t have done it without them.”
Sue and Dale have been brewing on a German single vessel 500-litre brewery with 3000-litre fermentation capacity and haven’t made any changes to the brewery set up since opening.
Sue said they did however add a cask canning machine in May, which allowed them to target the wholesale market.
“It hit autumn and we knew that we were going to need to reach our brews past Dandenong and having cans circulating with our packaging to see encourages more people to visit.
“Before we had the canning machine we offered take away growlers which we still offer for our speciality beers.
“[We have] future plans for an upgraded can machine and another fermentation tank to give us more flexibility and larger capacity brews of our more popular beers that we currently struggle to keep up with.”
Despite any challenges, Sue says Dandenong has been a very supportive community to be a part of which is why their brewery has a large community focus.
“A lot of our locals have been waiting for a place to enjoy craft beer, fresh dough pizzas and relax. Our space is also a great function space which has been evident from the number of functions we have done in the past year. ”
“We have worked with Kaiju and a number of other breweries at particular events over the past year. We were also lucky enough to work closely with Bad Shepherd and the girls from each brewery created a collab beer ‘BoPeep’ for ‘The Great Beer Heist’ which will hopefully become an annual event.
“The industry as a whole have been supportive and so encouraging with a number of other breweries reaching out and offering advice which is great.”
Bojak have 10 taps on constant rotation with new brews as well as seasonal rotations, with plans for future releases in the pipeline.
“We have our Fruits of Summer Sours coming out which will be a limited single keg for each month of summer. We also have our taproom series which we will launch at our first birthday weekend on Saturday 30th of November and Sunday 1st December.
“Following that weekend, there will be seven exclusive stores we will be releasing a small amount of the taproom cans to. They are stores who have continuously supported us over the past year and in areas our beer is popular and it really is a thank you to them.”
The first birthday weekend will also see VIP discounts, merch giveaways and a mystery happy hour.
“We are just looking forward to seeing new and familiar faces and having a beer with them!” Messina finished.