Two Mates Brewing Co. is set to start brewing in South Lismore early next month.
Founded by Grant Smith and Andrew Newton, the pair have been working towards opening the brewery for over a year.
“For 18 months we’ve been heavily involved in it outside of running our lives and careers, and ultimately it’s taken over, so now we find ourselves full time in the business and we’re at the point of opening the doors,” Smith explained.
The idea for opening a brewery first stemmed from a trip the pair took to Margaret River in 2019.
“We wanted to create a community hub, this region really struggles for places to take your family. I was finding I was taking mine out of the region, there’s loads to enjoy outside from bushwalks and waterholes to beaches and trail rides but no facilities, no place to take your family somewhere after where the kids could enjoy the space,” he said.
Providing a family friendly space for the local community is the ultimate goal for Two Mates, according to Smith.
“Our vision is to let the community determine what they want it to be, not just driven by what Andrew and I (or our wives) want, but people can be a part of the business and its direction,” he said.
Once the pair decided to open a brewery, the next step was to find a suitable venue.
“The building is 150 years old, it’s an old railway shed, and it fits into that ethos of craft beer, so a bit industrial, but it enables the community to be able to feed into what we’ve been doing,” Smith said.
Renovating can be difficult in itself, but dealing with an older building comes with its own challenges, according to Smith, as other brewers including NSW’s Resin Brewing have found out.
“It’s been a big list, and we’ve had some of the items still sticking around at the backend, but in terms of power and infrastructure, what we’re putting into the building, we made a concerted effort to not touch the building.
“Everything we’ve done, maintained all those aspects aesthetically within the building,” he explained.
With the brewery itself set to be up and running early next month, the team also aims to open its taphouse to the public before the end of the year.
While Newton and Smith will handle the operational aspects of the brewery, brewing will be undertaken by Chris Smith, formerly the head brewer of Lost Palms Brewing Co. on the Gold Coast.
“He jumped on board just after Easter and has been instrumental in getting through the building phase. He’s built a brewhouse and understands every part of that system and how it comes together and its flexibility,” Newton explained.
In terms of the brewkit, the team settled on a four-vessel, 15hL Tiantai system.
“Everyone we spoke to gave us the advice, to enable us to scale down the track, and not have to, in 12 months, go back and revisit it.
“We initially have gone a bit heavy but we’re happy we’ve done that now,” Newton said.
While the team plans to launch with a strong range of core beers in house, they also aim to expand their customer base with their online store.
“We have two arms to the business model, Two Mates and a line called Railyard Produce, which is where we get to engage the community with local produce within the building, honey, jam preserves, beef jerky, things like that.
“Encompassing that, we’ve got a kombucha range and gone to market with cider and alcoholic ginger beer, which sits under the Railyard label.
“We will go out with core range beers in cans, and our online presence will allow us to shift nationwide across the core and Railyard range,” Newton explained.
A competitive market
Whether in a regional or metropolitan area, opening a brewery is a difficult process and even more so in a competitive market.
In an interview with the ABC, Independent Brewers Association (IBA) chair chairperson Peter Philip acknowledged how competitive the market is becoming, with it becoming increasingly difficult to set yourself apart, but also highlighted the potential role that regional areas could play in the growth of craft brewing.
For the team at Two Mates, being in a competitive region is an opportunity to grow.
“The Northern Rivers is growing, Stone & Wood are close and they have been fantastic to us through this process, the craft beer community has been fantastic in general as well,” Smith said.
“In this area you don’t see them as a competitor, more as someone to help improve and increase awareness in this region.”
As a self-funded business, the team at Two Mates appreciate the community for rallying behind them.
“For the financial commitment to this and what we’ve had to endure to now, we’ve been buoyed on by community support and belief in what we’re doing,” Newton said.
“Sometimes it’s been difficult, you get knocked down so many times but the families have been there for each other, we made a pact that we’re mates before anything else and at the end of the day, that is first at hand.”
Two Mates Brewing Co. is set to open at 7 Engine Street, South Lismore, NSW.
Brewery openings are presented by Spark Breweries and Distilleries, the finest in-venue and production brewing systems available, with local design and support.