Woolstore Brewery has opened in South Australia’s Mount Gambier.
After a long planning and building journey, the brewery opened its doors on Saturday, 10th July.
“We held a Tradie’s night on Friday to thank everyone who had worked to make our dream a reality and then, with no prior promotion and our fingers crossed, we opened our doors,” said co-founder Kylie Ind.
Woolstore Brewery was founded by Kylie and her husband Chris Ind, who have been heavily involved in the Mount Gambier community for over 20 years.
Chris owns and operates a consumer electronics and power tool repair store, Anvil Electronics, while Kylie is a theatre nurse.
The idea for opening a brewery was sparked when a historic wool storage depot building came up for sale in their town.
“We noticed the for sale sign and the general state of neglect that the poor old building was in and I said to Chris ‘I want that building … but I don’t know what for.’
“Nothing happened for a long time until a family trip away saw us sitting at a picnic table at a brewery, sipping a tasting paddle and watching our kids play. At the same moment we turned to one another and said ‘I know what that building is for!’”
Once the pair settled on buying the wool storage depot building, Kylie decided to undertake a brewing course while the initial planning stage was taking place.
“I went and studied brewing at Regency TAFE in Adelaide under Stephen Nelsen and bought myself a Braumeister and began pilot brewing and planning our initial recipes,” Ind explained.
As Woolstore Brewery was the first brewery to open in the local council of Mount Gambier, development applications were uncharted territory for the brewery founders, and the council.
“We worked hard and always with the community at front of mind to get through but it took a while.
“The new liquor licencing system in SA made things quite simple. [Our] excise licence also went through without a hitch,” explained Ind.
After 18 months of planning, the process to build the brewery started with demolition work on the original wool storage depot building.
“All the demolition work to convert the building from a gravel floored warehouse was done on Sundays when the electronics shop was closed.
“Many friends have answered the text message and come and spent their Sunday morning helping us pull up old floors, shift gravel or remove walls.”
The actual brewery build began in November 2020 and the 10hL gas-fired brewhouse, fermenters and brite tanks arrived at the beginning of January, earlier this year.
“With COVID preventing anyone from coming to help us, I rang Brewtique to find out if there were installation instructions, apparently not, you just look at the photos and match the numbers.
“It took Chris and I three weeks to put the stainless steel jigsaw puzzle together but it was worth it in the end as we now know exactly where every pipe and fitting goes and what it does,” she said.
Ind also suggested that other aspiring breweries ensure enough time and planning goes into the building process.
“Do your homework, talk to your council and local tourism people, talk to other breweries in your area, there is some really good information out there to help you if you are not afraid to ask.”
Once the brewkit was built, Ind took up the mantle of head brewer and began experimenting with various batches.
“I got to start the fun stuff in March, brewing some test batches and dialling in the equipment, while Chris continued the renovations.
“This is my first gig as a brewer but I love it,” Ind said.
After a couple of months of experimenting, Woolstore opened with four brews on tap including a Tradies Ale, Pale Ale, Smash Ale and Cocky Stout.
“The response from our community has been fantastic. They have embraced our space and our concept and already asked for more.”
With the pair primarily focused on the brewery’s taproom for the moment, they hope to expand to a brewpub early next year and eventually, incorporate distribution to bottle shops.
“We have ordered a canning line, which should arrive mid-August, as Mt Gambier is too far from a city for mobile canning to be feasible. We will be canning for people to take away and online sales.
“We have been approached by some local businesses interested in stocking our product and will explore this further as we grow,” Ind explained.
In terms of the future, the pair are confident and see potential for Woolstore to cement its place in the craft beer industry.
“There are big and small breweries totally kicking goals everywhere. A local Limestone Coast brewery (Loophole) just won Champion SA Brewery at the Indies – this from a brewery in a tiny town of 54 people.
“I feel like there are still so many opportunities for local breweries. Whether it is in a small town or a suburb people are seeking something they can call their own.”
Woolstore Brewery is open Thursday to Sunday at 36 Margaret Street, Mount Gambier, SA 5290.
Brewery openings are presented by Spark Breweries and Distilleries, the finest in-venue and production brewing systems available, with local design and support.