St Andrews Beach Brewery has completed an expansion of its brewery after it reached “critical mass” late last year.
National sales and marketing manager at the Mornington Peninsula-based brewery, Matt Grix, said their growth last year meant they needed to accelerate plans, joining the ranks of breweries like Kaiju and Moffat Beach who used the downtime during COVID to forge ahead with expansions.
“Expansion of our brewery was always in planning but had to be fast-tracked given the growth we experienced during 2020 with the critical mass coming over Q4 2020,” Grix explained.
Unlike other breweries, particularly those in urban areas, St Andrews Beach – founded in 2017 on a former horse racing track – benefits from a huge amount of land, with 92 acres to expand on.
“Out behind our current brewhouse we have a large number of the original Freedmans horse stables that are yet to be refurbished,” Grix explained.
“We have used some of the original stables to house our new tank farm and have it linked up to our original infrastructure all surrounding our new outdoor bar offering, The Birdcage.”
An additional vessel has been added to the 25hL brewhouse and the team will install a new tank farm which adds 500hL of capacity and a new 300-litre pilot brewery.
St Andrews Beach already added a canning line back in late 2019, which has the ability to can up to sixty cans per minute. Following the capacity expansion, its aim is to be able to brew 2 million litres of beer annually.
The pilot brewery in particular is part of the brewery’s future plans, and also give them an edge over other employers.
“The pilot brewery is a key part of our plan moving forward,” Grix said. “It is a wonderful European designed system with its own fermenters and bright tanks.
“Great brewers are in demand and we are really fortunate that our head brewer, Matt Stitt, is also a wonderful teacher so we have embarked on a program to find, train and accredit the brewers for tomorrow.”
With that in mind, St Andrews Beach brought on two new brewers; Rob Partridge, formerly of All Inn Brewing in Brisbane and Sheldon Bloss, as a new trainee.
“The pilot system is a key part of that, where our brewers can take control of a beer of their own design on a rotation basis and assist in fast-tracking their development,” Grix explained.
The limited edition beers are poured at the venue with takeaway growlers available once its cellar door expansion ‘The Barn’ is complete.
Growing St Andrews Beach in a challenging year
Grix explained that it hasn’t been an easy road to growth.
“When the COVID lockdowns hit it affected us greatly as we have such a large volume venue and coupled with the closure of the total Melbourne on-premise, our keg sales effectively ceased,” he said.
Like other breweries, St Andrews Beach moved fast to support on-premise partners with keg refunds and returns, growing its online presence and takeaway and delivery functionality.
“Lockdown was a really tough period for everyone in many different ways so we did what we could to try and keep everyone engaged and involved by providing opportunities to take on new tasks that we could do during this time.
“Building a plan and moving quickly saw us achieve really strong growth through the tough COVID lockdowns and built a really strong base for a big summer. We’re really grateful for the support we received from our retail partners and the loyalty shown to us from our on-premise pourers once they re-opened.”
The brewery also has plans for growth, not only in new categories such as Tidal Artesian Seltzer which they launched in 2020, but also in export.
“We’re really excited about what the future holds for us. We’re well planned and ready to expand into new categories and markets off the back of our structured growth.
“We have just got the first yield off our 8,500 apple trees (comprising 10 English cider varieties) and will soon have our own cider ready to pour.
“Anything is possible, but we’ll continue to stick to what we do best, serving customers and consumers respectfully and ensuring that they have great experiences with our brands and in our venues.
“We’ll continue to be authentic with who we are, be driven with an entrepreneurial spirit and strive to be a sustainable citizen,” Grix said.