Good Land Brewing Co. has opened in Traralgon in Gippsland, after a year of delays caused by COVID-19.
Good Land opened its doors last Friday after a soft launch the previous week.
“We’re pretty stoked!” said founder Jimmy Krekelberg.
“We have 10 taps but we’ve only done 5 beers and we wanted to showcase a bit of Gippsland.
“We reached out to Ocean Reach, Sailors Grave, we’ve done a keg swap with the guys at Bandolier, and Burra Brewing dropped off a keg, the guys from Gurneys Cider provided mead and hopped cider and we’ve partnered with a few local wineries as well.
“We have the venue there as a little experience, it’s a pub in an industrial estate and if we can bring something different to the area and showcase the beers, that’s great.
“[The other breweries] were cool as. They’re all pumped for it. I think we’ve had a pretty good reception and we’ll just see what happens, we’ll have a lot more of our own beers on tap and around the place in future.”
Good Land beers are in fact already being sold in bottleshops including Carwyn Cellars, but like other breweries which have launched since the start of COVID-19, the Victorian brewery has faced some major challenges.
Good Land initially planned to open last year, but opening a venue in the middle of a global pandemic and subsequent lockdowns didn’t sound like the best idea, said Krekelberg.
“I had budgeted pretty bloody well and if we were to open in August as we’d planned, we wouldn’t have needed any extra.
“But we’re nearly 12 months out of the original planned opening date, so the outgoings I hadn’t budgeted for – paying rent and bills – that’s what stung us on the money side. But people have acclimatised to COVID pretty quickly and all the hospitality trades slowly opening up again.
“I don’t know what the future might bring but people are getting more confident to go out and spend money.”
Good Land also faced some unexpected challenges, including some IP difficulties that led them to change their name and brand twice, and Krekelberg explained that these business-focused activities were the hardest part of the job.
“I’ve learnt a hell of a lot in a short time. I’m not a businessman so the accounting side of things and how companies are set up, trademarking, how permits work – there’s a lot of little things you learn along the way, you ask someone or you read – if someone can else do it you can do it.
“Everything is hard at the time but once you’ve done it you look back and think it wasn’t that bad!”
One thing that he didn’t have a shortage of was brewing experience, which he recommended for all new brewers.
“I would say get experience first. I’m an engineer and fitter by trade, and a brewer as well so that side is easy for me, it’s more so the business side.
“You can always learn stuff [about business] but we put quality control stuff in from the start. We have a lab testing for wild yeast and bacteria, and we’ve put a lot of stuff in place to put that quality bit right, rather than putting out shit beer and having customers come in and putting them off wanting craft beer ever again.
“In the craft beer industry you need to respect that. You can’t go out and respect that people will buy it cause you’ve made it, you need consistent quality product and branding, or you can tarnish the industry very easily.”
Some issues Good Land faced however will be familiar to brewers old and new.
“The council was a bit of a struggle, but we ended up going through a company to do our permits, it was long and drawn out, there was stuff I wanted and stuff the council wanted,” Krekelberg explained.
“The big thing was capacity and extend licensing hours, and they wanted a 28-car carpark.
“But our council has never had a brewery either. They didn’t know what to base it off – the closest thing they could relate it to is an abattoir – with product coming in and out, similar EPA laws, smells, and zoning.
“That was the closest thing and they moved it from there.”
Once the council understood the concept, Krekelberg planned for the brewery, and having experienced breweries in places like Melbourne, they got on board.
“They’re now asking about beer gardens!”
As it is, the venue will be able to fit 50 people with COVID restrictions, and will be a true family affair.
“We’re only small, so my wife Layla is going to manage the bar, with help from my sister Lucy and my brother Jessie and a mate will be on as well to help with the brewery and cellar.”
Good Land’s starting lineup of beers is an interesting one.
“We’ve got our good lager, which is a German pilsner. We did a few little test batches and decided to go with the lager as it turned out much better than expected – it was the first brew we put through the system and it was awesome. It turned out exactly what I envisaged, we hopped it with HPA’s Enigma, so we have a little ‘New World’ nuance to it.
“Then we have our Golden Beach pale ale, and we double dry-hopped it with Vic Secret and Eclipse, with all Voyager malts in that as well. So that’s a nice drop too.
“We haven’t made the last one yet, but everything else is one off. One’s called Teenie Tiny, which is a 2.8 per cent table beer – it’s in a 440ml can and it’s one standard drink.
“That one we have dry-hopped it with Eclipse and Topaz and mashed in really high so plenty of body behind it, and heap of hops which is really nice as well.
“But I’ve got a recipe list as long as forever,” admitted Krekelberg.
Getting the balance right
Starting your own business will always bring added pressures, but it also allows the flexibility other jobs can’t provide.
“More towards the end run as well, we’ve been doing a lot and feel bad being away from the kids, once were open it will be a bit smoother, we’ll still have lots of work but I want to make it work for us as a family as well – I don’t want to miss the kids growing up.”
This is also the reason Krekelberg is keeping his options open when it comes to the future of Good Land.
“We’ll see how much pressure it puts on us – I want to focus on being a production brewery anyway, the cellar door is an outlet to sell and bring something diff to Traralgon,” he said.
“That’s where we’re aiming to get to, if we’re making money I want to employ people as well.
“I’ve always said that from the start, people tell you, you have to stick to a business plan and 5-year goals, but it’s more important that you have a vision and know where it goes, but also for growth and direction to be organic.
“If the beer is good with a good brand behind it, let it do its thing, if people like it and the beer we will grow with it as it grows.”
Like other breweries such as Slow Lane Brewing and Bucketty’s which have also opened this year in a post-COVID world, Good Land is keeping its forecasts conservative.
“Our first-year forecast is very lean, our forecasts are based on one brew a week so anything more than that is gold.
“We’ll stick with that and we’ve had a lot of bars, restaurants, local pubs that want a Traralgon-made beer – they want something from Gippsland – because so many people are looking for local with a story behind it.
“There’s nothing in the area and we’re fortunate in that but we’re disadvantaged by population, we’re not Melbourne, we don’t have 7 million people on our doorstep.”
“Between us we will see what works. We’re all really tired, but excited!”
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