After 12 months of adaptation and evolution, Melbourne brewpub the Frankston Brewhouse is set to reach its one-year milestone.
“When we’ve had the opportunity to be open, it’s been really good,” explained Frankston founder and marketing manager Michaela Boucher.
“Having a few stops and starts probably hindered the process a little bit. But now that we’re open in a permanent capacity, it’s been really good.”
The brewhouse was founded by Boucher along with Travis Sannen, Jaime Longhurst and Stephen Murtagh. The team initially wanted to launch the brewery in 2019 but endured a long development process to eventually open last February.
A challenging first year
Much like other businesses that opened during the peak of the pandemic, Frankston Brewhouse felt the brunt of restrictions.
“So we would open and we’d get that sort of traction and get into a good rhythm and then restrictions would change and we would close again,” Boucher said.
“We found that challenging to stay as a new business without a big following or regular customers to stay relevant and in the forefront of people’s minds.”
Restrictions made it difficult for the venue to open and impacted the team’s ability to promote and define the brand from their homebase, leaving them reliant solely on social media to spread the word.
“It was kind of hard to get the name out there. We were doing social posts, but it was hard with what we had to offer. It was a couple of varieties of takeaway beer. It might have been different if we had our whole range available.”
While the team faced these challenges, a silver lining soon presented itself with canning, Boucher explained.
“So that [canning] was sort of on our business plan as maybe a year, two year or three activity. So we brought that forward, and canned our Long Island Lager and our Sunnyside Session Ale.”
Choosing to focus on packaged beer and takeaway food allowed the Frankston Brewhouse team to continue business while the venue was closed and to introduce growlers and improve merchandise.
“It was definitely a positive. And since then, we’ve actually canned two other varieties: our Porter and our IPA. So I think bringing it forward was actually good in hindsight. Definitely a silver lining.”
With an array of challenges threatening the business and packaging thrown into the mix, the team were left to adapt when it came to the brewery’s plans, and versatility is a highly recommended trait for new breweries, explained Boucher.
“We had a business plan and we had hope and direction of where we would be going. We really had to be agile and just be flexible enough to pivot with that,” she explained.
“I would actually recommend embracing that. Even if you’re not opening in the middle of a global pandemic, because I think that has helped us,” she said.
Staying true to your values as a business is another piece of advice Boucher offered for aspiring breweries.
“I think we kind of knew what we want our venue to be about, what we want the brand and what we wanted the beers to be about, because our tagline is ‘socially approachable’.
“So we just made sure that we have that ethos in the back of our mind when making decisions as well about the business but more generally.”
The hard work has paid off for Frankston Brewhouse it seems with the reception from locals positively praising the brewery for enhancing the Frankston area.
“We’ve got a really great handful of regulars that come in. I think a lot of the feedback that we’ve received too, is what’s been missing in the area.
“It is, first and foremost, a brewery. But we also have the restaurant attached to the tap house. So we’ve been getting lots of positive feedback about that. We really embrace the Frankston name and being part of that.”
In terms of the future, the brewery has plans to build upon its seasonal range of beers with the team currently working on a new Sour. The focus will also shift to expanding the brewery’s brand by participating in more events and beer tastings.
“We want to get involved in the craft beer festival scene. You know, how can we get involved in getting our beers judged and involved in more beer themed events as well,” Boucher explained.
“So our focus in the first instance has primarily been the venue and getting people into the site, but now it’s about pushing the brand and pushing the beers out there.”
Frankston Brewhouse will officially celebrate its first birthday later this month with an event to celebrate the milestone.