White Lies Brewing Co. is joining the ranks of expanding breweries and opening its second brewpub in Brisbane.
The Sumner-based brewery, founded in 2015, is growing with a new site down the road at Seventeen Mile Rocks.
Founder Lee McAlister-Smiley said that having recently added a distillery producing vodka and gin, they did not have any room to expand at the current site.
“We’ve probably been out of room for two years now realistically. We started looking seriously in June or July last year, when we sort of reached capacity and started the distillery in the same complex. We lost three tanks to spirits, and just couldn’t produce enough beer.
“We hit that stage where we would have to grow or start to shrink,” he said.
White Lies found the site for the brewery relatively quickly, and chose the location strategically.
“It wasn’t a long search, it was in January we found the site, and we were meant to be in 1st March but there was a few hiccups with tenants and notice periods and stuff.
“[The new site] is about 50m from the largest park in the western suburbs, it has really good traffic and exposure on the weekends, and it’s a large site, 1,000sqm in total with the building about 560sqm.”
White Lies is allocating 300 sqm for the brewery and the rest will be the venue with an outdoor beer garden.
“We’re keeping the original site, probably going to have some fun with some more barrel aging and sour beers over there,” McAlister-Smiley explained.
White Lies is about to submit its development application, and the team’s previous experience and being a ‘known quantity’ to the council has helped so far.
“We’re hoping to have more of an emphasis on live music but it’s all beholden to the DA process what we can do, but we’ll be remaining family-friendly, putting in a kids room, for instance, to cater to the families.
“Before we signed for this site we made the effort of going to see our local members and politicians, federal and state, to ensure we would get support for the venture here.
“It’s been amazing the local support we have received, so we’re not anticipating any real issues from a local pushback point of view.”
The new brewkit has been acquired from the former Brisbane Brew Partners, which closed in December having never brewed a beer, with additional fermenters ordered and set for delivery from China.
One of the questions that the new site posed was that of packaging, which was brought to the forefront of the minds of brewers during COVID-19. White Lies relied on growlers and had to get innovative when the Queensland government banned reusable growlers.
“We did quite a lot of canning at the start [of the pandemic] and it was really labour intensive for us, but it was all we could sell was growlers and squealers, now there’s more of a demand but it’s equalising now that people can come out and drink again.
“We are planning for canning facilities here as well, hopefully making that purchase mid-year after production gets up and running. Packaging is something we need to focus on more.”
White Lies are not distributing beer off-premise at the moment, McAlister-Smiley said, but they are distributing their gin and vodka products distilled at Sumner.
“That’s in its infancy, it’s been going on 12 months, not even, that we’ve been doing that, and we’re still hustling to get that out there.
“The plan is to do ‘strategic distribution’ – it’s a wanky term, but we’re not interested in competing with the Newsteads and Ballistics out there, we’d rather brew less and sell at our own venue than pushing our stock elsewhere.”
As for their immediate future plans, White Lies is planning for a mid-June start to production.
“And our audacious goal is to be open by November, but it is all dependent on how we go with the DA process.
“As it’s five times the size and should future proof it for the next five years.
“The general feeling is scared optimism! After going through it once before I know there will be plenty of hiccups that will cost more money, but we’re making sure that we can achieve what we want with the budget we have.
“We’ve only been on site for a few days, but we’re excited for it and that the community support has been so amazing.”