Brouhaha Brewery is joining the ranks of expanding Sunshine Coast breweries following the announcement of a new venue and production brewery this week.
The new site will be located at the Aura Business Park at Bells Creek, inland from Caloundra, and will enable Brouhaha to quadruple production with a new 35hL kit.
Brouhaha opened its first site in Maleny in 2016 and since then has grown its range and popularity, and the new site will have a focus on sour beers which have proven to be a hit with consumers, said co-founder Matt Jancauskas.
“We wanted to make more kettle sours, we just can’t make enough. We leave it in kettle for two days and that ties up the whole brewkit, and inhibits the stuff we can make as well,” Jancauskas said.
“It’s just nowhere near enough, the new brewery is custom-designed around the ability to double batch kettle sours, and we’ll have a second, double-sized kettle in addition to the rest of the brewery,” he explained.
Brouhaha is joining fellow Sunshine Coast breweries Moffat Beach Brewing Co. which opened its new production house in Caloundra earlier this year, as well as Your Mates Brewing Co., which announced its own expansion plans this year.
But Brouhaha won’t be leaving its Maleny homebase behind.
“Absolutely this place will stay the same,” said Jancauskas.
“We’ve never had a pilot kit, everything we do is full batch. But we want to do keg-only releases out of [Maleny] and we’ve earmarked the site for barrel ageing, we want to do different beer styles and look at gluten-free now we have that space to experiment.”
Brouhaha did not just choose a suitable site to expand, but also to position it for distribution growth.
“We were looking for a few criteria,” said Jancauskas, “and one of the major ones was proximity to the Bruce [Highway]. We have a huge difficulty and expense in getting trucks up the range to Maleny. We have to send beer to another depot and then offload onto a smaller truck and then offload again at the other end – getting raw materials is difficult too and we wanted that proximity and ability to utilise that framework.
“We also wanted access to the same water supply, so we had geographical restrictions around that,” he said.
These logistical concerns were supplemented by the need to access a greater market.
“We also wanted to tap into a bigger population density. Maleny has been incredible and the people here are fiercely loyal to us, but in Maleny and the surrounding towns there’s only about 5,000 people and basically no public transport so it’s a difficult area to rely on drinking trade.
“And the Sunshine Coast has one of the top five growth rates in Australia, which is pretty amazing.”
The site is under the jurisdiction of Queensland’s State Development department rather than the local council, and this proved to work in Brouhaha’s favour.
“The timing was incredible, it had already been approved, construction started at the site and they offered us a couple of tenancies.
“But we needed more, so we’ve taken this whole building which was originally earmarked for eight tenants. They literally stopped construction on site, took out internal walls, opened up spaces for us so we can get forklifts in, it’s completely re-engineered for the needs we identified.”
It also proved the right time for Brouhaha financially.
“Our business was in the right stage to get the finance rather than going through additional funding campaigns or selling shares and taking on other investors. We still have the same four people involved as when we started.
“There has been growth in the industry and everyone hopes that continues, but banks are cautious and a huge part of our business is hospitality. To have the year we’ve had and still look good on paper is incredible.”
This time round, Brouhaha are going for a 35hL brewkit from Alpha Brewing Operations, via FB*PROPAK.
“We’ve purchased a canning line from them before and we were impressed with their tech. This brewhouse has a high level of automation, it’s 35hL, all steam fired, it’s the full Rolls Royce for us.
“It’s got a separate kettle, separate whirlpool and an additional kettle for souring.”
The brewkit suits its needs as a much bigger brewery, he said.
“A lot has changed, when we bought the brewkit here in Maleny, we bought a Spark kit, a 12hL and it’s a testament to that kit that we still loving brewing on it, it’s just too small for what we want to do.
“We did look at Spark again but that level of automation we needed something else.
“The expense of breweries is in the control and design, and the new one is good value for money too, we looked long and hard at different models, and ours is versatile and big enough to be efficient.
The kit is ordered and under construction and should arrive in September.
“We get the building from 1st September, we’ve already identified where floor drains will go and they’re putting in main utilities, so when we get it September it will be ready to plug and play. We’ve allocated the whole of September to installing and brewing and our first beers will be rolling out in November.”
Off and on-premise
When it opens, the two-story taproom will be able to fit around 100 people, depending on COVID restrictions.
But while the venue will be a large part of revenues going forward, Brouhaha has plans to expand outward as well.
“We have a hope that on-premise consumption will be substantial. We’re optimistic about what on-premise consumption will be there, but our model will be geared towards distribution.
“We are taking on distribution interstate, we’ve never done anything outside Queensland, so it will be our first time going into additional states and we want to invest heavily in quality and quality control.”
In part, Brouhaha’s experiences during COVID-19 helped them shape their plans.
“COVID, as much as it was really scary and changed a lot, it was helpful to us to identify the areas of the business we need to focus on. We had half a chance to catch our breach and refine things. It was helpful to us to focus on other areas,” Jancauskas said.
“Public opinion changed and there was a big focus on buying local and the support on the back of that was incredible.
“It laid the foundations so we could take this next step.”