West End’s latest craft brewery Parched Brewery has officially opened on Montague Road.
The idea for building a brewery first sparked after head brewer and owner, Carl Hallion, who spent over 25 years in the mining industry, decided to build upon his homebrewing hobby.
“I had done some home brewing with the old Coopers brew in a bag kit growing up in Adelaide. That passion reignited and grew over the last few years until it collided with another dream of mine, to own a little bar of my own,” he explained.
“Having a beer at Green Beacon one day I thought, ‘well these two loves have to come together’ and the idea of Parched was born.”
For Parched, the purpose of building a brewery was to create a place where people could connect and converse in a safe space, according to Hallion.
“In the post-pandemic world, I think it’s been really important to provide somewhere where everyone can come and enjoy something and relax, breathe and let the weight of the world fall off their shoulders,” he said.
“Parched is the place I want to come to and be happy so that is why I built it.”
The journey to building Parched first started in early 2020 when Carl and his wife Pauline started to look for a venue. After looking at various spots in Brisbane, the team landed on a building on Montague Road in West End.
“Pauline and I took a drive and hadn’t realised how much the area had grown and then we saw this warehouse building being converted into retail and hospitality venues.
“We bumped into a bloke who was sweeping and cleaning up and invited us to look around. It turned out he was the owner and shared our vision for a brewery with an industrial feel so in the end it all sort of fell into place.”
Hallion decided to take on completing the application process himself due to his prior experience from working within the mining industry. While he said this was the right choice for Parched, he also offered some advice for aspiring brewers.
“If you build a relationship with the council planner and you keep an eye on what’s being proposed in your reports then it will help cut off misunderstandings and challenges before they become insurmountable,” he explained.
“I think there is still a lot of confusion over what a craft brewery is and how to assess it for most councils and that leads to issues that don’t really need to exist. We were ultimately pretty lucky that we had a close relationship and could work with the council on this one to resolve any concerns.”
In terms of the venue itself, Parched has a brewery along with a brewpub licensed for 200 patrons and includes a kitchen as well. The beers will be sold on-site or through online sales and takeaway orders which is a key model for breweries just starting out, as Hallion explained.
“To be honest I think this is the only model to pursue for small crafties. If you want to do wholesale and sell through a middleman, then you need a pretty big working capital injection and at least a million litres a year production.
“You also get more flexibility and control over your lineup when you control your sales channels.”
“Unfortunately COVID meant they couldn’t come and do the build and commissioning which left Clemy (who consults to Brewtique as well) to help us build and commission. It’s a bit unusual but a credit to all of us that we could get it done and smash out eight great beers in the first round.”
Amongst those eight beers includes a traditional English IPA, a Mexican lager, an Irish Red Ale and an Australian Pale Ale. To follow this lineup, the team are also looking to release a pomegranate Sour, a California Common and an XPA.
“We’ve got a few more underway too. Our aim is to keep them at or below 5% abv too. We’ll occasionally push that a bit higher but we’re aiming to have a range so there is something for everyone without knocking you off after two or three.”
While building a brewery in the midst of a pandemic can raise various issues, a major one that has caused a ripple effect is the global freight crisis. From pallet shortages to shipping delays, the freight supply chain has halted progress on new breweries, like Parched, being built.
“We saw escalating prices weekly during the build, supply delays and at times we just couldn’t get supplies of some materials. Even now our external deck is missing in action as we can’t even get the Fabricators to quote on it let alone supply it. That’s hopefully coming early in 2022,” Hallion explained.
Running over budget is common, however for Parched most of this was due to inflation caused by the crisis, as Hallion explained.
“An example was pre-pandemic, we had a quoted freight on the brewery for 4 x 40ft containers of $15,000. By the time we got the gear, it cost us $49,000 and we were told if it hit the water a week later it would have been $59,000. I hear now it’s close to $20,000 per container.
“I’ve heard the freight is now so expensive it’s holding back some breweries from ordering. Hopefully that will settle down soon.”
In addition to the challenges surrounding COVID, the team also faced issues with the development application process, which surprised Hallion, coming from a mining background.
“I’ve built a mining company and pound for pound, small business is more heavily regulated with less clarity and understanding relative to its size than mining.
“There needs to be a rethink for small business in general but specifically for craft breweries, there needs to be a major reset to how they are approved, built and regulated,” he said.
Launch & Future
After having a soft launch on the 15th of December, Parched officially opened to the public on Thursday, 16th December.
With the aim of building a deck soon, the team aims to enhance the space and attract all kinds of customers from around the area.
“It’s a real mixed bag around West End and the crowd will be pretty eclectic but we are aiming to appeal to a broad range of people. We’d be a great choice for everyone from families, locals, couples, and crafties to come and enjoy the space.”
Hallion hopes Parched will be stable not only for West End but for Brisbane as well.
“We’ve combined the warehouse-style brewery with a high-quality fit-out to give you all the best aspects of quality crafted beers and artisan wines with food made with love.
“We had a philosophy that if we aim to do the beer to a high standard then let’s do everything to a high standard, so even if your partner or mate isn’t a crafty, they’ll still love coming here and who knows, maybe we’ll win them over.”
Parched Brewing is open Wednesday to Sunday at 391 Montague Road West End, QLD 4101.
Brewery openings are presented by Spark Breweries and Distilleries, the finest in-venue and production brewing systems available, with local design and support.