Busselton’s Shelter Brewing Co. is set to celebrate one year in business.
Since opening just before Christmas last year, Shelter has seen over half a million customers through the door and served over 300,000 beers.
The brewery can attribute its growth and success to Western Australia’s lack of lockdowns, according to Shelter general manager Paul Maley.
“We’ve been very lucky,” he said. “When you look around the country and see New South Wales and Victoria in lockdown for the last little while, WA has fared really well over the last few months and we directly benefited from that.
“It’s been a great year for the business and obviously the brewery has produced enough beer to quench everyone’s thirst.”
The work of Shelter’s brewers hasn’t gone unnoticed, and the company has won various accolades during the year including the Perth Royal Beer awards, the Australian Institute of Architects’ WA Architecture Awards and most recently, the AHA-Aon Hospitality Awards for Excellence.
“We wouldn’t have gotten this far without our staff. We have over 140 staff across all areas of the business and we’re super proud of them.
“So all the people who have contributed to this come with great skill and they’ve executed everything really well,” Maley said.
Even though the state hasn’t seen the worst of the pandemic, Shelter has experienced the ripple effect of limited travel and delayed logistical deliveries, similar to Alice Springs Brewing Co. and its staff shortages.
“We’ve been incredibly busy and we’ve had to deal with staff shortages and sometimes supply issues.
“Normally WA sees about 10,000 holiday workers each year on working visas and this year, there’s been around 300.
“So there’s been a huge skill shortage from a seasonal working capacity which has a knock on effect in all industries but hospitality certainly feels a bit of that brunt,” Maley explained.
Having a contingency plan in place for when things go south is key, according to Maley.
“We’re slightly more cautious in our approach and that would be indicative of pretty much any business of our size in any industry.
“We make sure we can react quickly and check the brewery team has enough materials on hand to ensure that if we do go into lockdown, we can still produce beer and food,” he said.
When it came to offering words of wisdom for other brewers, Maley suggested building a bigger brewery than plans initially anticipated for.
“We reached capacity on day one and had new equipment on the way, the day after we opened.
“Everyone has a budget but if you can build the largest capacity you can for your beer, that would be one of our words of warning.”
Prioritising the Busselton community has been at the forefront of Shelter’s focus since its inception, with the three owning families having a history of over 100 years in the region.
However, providing a safe and fun space for the locals is an ongoing responsibility and shouldn’t be underestimated, according to Maley.
“Having that family legacy is helpful. But you have to walk the walk as well.
“That challenge never stops. We have a lot of visitors from the Perth area and outside. But first and foremost, we want to be a venue for locals.”
Through sponsoring local sport competitions, fundraising and supporting events such as the annual Busselton Jetty Swim, Shelter has found a sweet spot in engaging the community.
“We’re a big town hall at times and we make sure the locals can enjoy the venue as much as possible. And while that’s been our focus over the last 12 months, it will be a big part of our focus going forward.”
In terms of its future plans, the brewery may look toward expanding distribution of its beers.
“We’re obviously focused on the South West and Perth but we would love to see Shelter beers on the east coast,” he said.
To commemorate its first birthday, Shelter is holding two free events on Saturday, 6th November. The business also has a new Pale Ale aiming to release in early November to coincide with the milestone.
Ultimately, Shetler’s main focus will be on continuing the relationship between the venue and the local community, according to Maley.
“For us, half a million people have been through the door and we know there’s plenty of people out there that haven’t tried a Shelter beer and we want to get to those [people] in WA over the next 12 months.”