Frankston Brewhouse, which has been under development for two years, is set to open its doors this month.
Founded by Michaela Boucher, Travis Sannen, Jaime Longhurst and Stephen Murtagh, the team initially launched plans for the venue in 2019. It will now contribute to the strong brewing culture of the suburb, which already counts Mr Banks and Dainton among its ranks.
It has been a relatively long development process, faced with the challenges of COVID-19, and working full-time while setting up the site.
“We have mixed emotions [about opening]; excited, nervous, stressed!” said Boucher.
With just a few more boxes to tick, including food business permit grants and occupancy permits, there is light at the end of the tunnel for the development process.
But as many small business and brewery founders will know, setting up a new venture can be fraught and put pressure on relationships. The Frankston Brewhouse team dealt with this pragmatically.
“We set up a shareholder’s agreement early on,” explained Boucher. “This made sure we were clear on voting, decision making and our roles and responsibilities.
“We also held weekly meetings to ensure we stayed on track with tasks and were held accountable, and we played to one another’s strengths.
“We also made sure to laugh and we have a bunch of inside jokes now.”
Dealing with building a brewery from scratch during COVID was no mean feat, but Frankston Brewhouse was in certain ways protected by the harsh lockdown restrictions in Melbourne.
“It wasn’t too bad for us. The biggest impact was managing the trades and the number of people on-site to ensure we were meeting the restrictions on capacity whilst Victoria was in lockdown. It was good to have a project to focus on and keep us busy whilst we were in lockdown too,” she said.
But there were certain challenges.
“How long things take [was a surprise]. We did most of the work ourselves, all while managing our regular full-time jobs,” said Boucher.
“It’s terrifying and challenging but looking back it’s been an amazing experience.”
For anyone thinking of setting up their own brewery though, she had some sage advice.
“Spend time upfront on the details and in particular the brewery layout” Boucher explained. “This will pay off when you finally start to use the equipment.”
Murtagh and Sannen will be the brewpubs brewing operations team, and their opening lineup, being brewed on its 10hL, three-vessel kit.
They include its Long Island Lager, Sunnyside Session Ale, Harold Hop IPA, Ambassador Pale Ale and Pope’s Eye Porter.
“We have our five core beers, so we’ll also be looking into brewing seasonal and speciality beers, and collaborating with other breweries.
“Our first brew was in November 2020 and it’s been surprisingly smooth, aside from one stuck mash we haven’t had any equipment or process issues,” they said.
As they prepare for their opening, last-minute details are front and foremost, but future plans will be geared towards distribution.
“For now we’ll just be serving at the taproom and will use the venue to establish the brand,” Boucher said.
“We have already started the initial steps to kick off the canning process. We also have kegged beer so will focus on sales and distribution to other venues.”
But despite the time and effort put into the new venue, the Frankston Brewhouse team have learnt a lot.
“The biggest learning for me is that if you set your mind to it you can actually do anything,” Bouncer said. “When I reflect on where we started what we have achieved is pretty impressive.”
Frankston Brewhouse will be open at 10 New Street before the end of the month.
Brewery openings are presented by Spark Breweries and Distilleries, the finest in-venue and production brewing systems available, with local design and support.