Major flooding stripped people of their homes and businesses and caused untold damage in Queensland and New South Wales last week, and one of those businesses is Two Mates Brewing Co.
After flood waters rose far higher than expected in the Lismore region last week, damages will cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, might mean the community brewery never reopens, and founders Andrew Newton and Grant Smith have launched a GoFundMe fundraising campaign to help rebuild.
“The whole town was ready for water, just not at that level,” explained co-founder Andrew Newton.
“We’re in a relatively high area, but we had 3m of water in the brewery. Grant got caught in the brewery on Sunday night, and once we got him out we had to jump in a kayak and paddle back there on Tuesday to assess the damage.
“We’re looking at a bill of hundreds of thousands of dollars, and weren’t able to get anything insured, because Lismore CBD is in a flood zone. Plenty of businesses will not come back from this.”
The brewery only opened in September 2021.
“As individuals we have thrown everything into this, we’ve gone through hell to get ourselves open before Christmas after drama with council,” Newton said.
“We had unbelievable support from the community, our taproom was flying, we’re starting maximising wholesale opportunities, and then boom, a hand of God came down to slap us.
“You’ve got two families grieving effectively, we’re working 15 hour days to clean up this mess because we’re determined to make it.
“We’re doing it for the community and for our own families, we haven’t got a choice, we’re all in.”
The brewery took a major hit which means Two Mates will be unable to brew at their homebase for the foreseeable future.
“Our tanks are salvageable but they got spun on their heads so we had to stand them back up, and realign our brew deck.
“We’ll salvage it, but we haven’t had a chance to get the glycol system and boiler looked at, we expect the electrics to be fried.
“The main focus is getting mud out, and getting our cold room containers stood back up – two of them were full of beer.”
But the founders are hopeful after seeing the huge outpouring from the community and the brewing industry itself.
“The industry has been so supportive and many have offered to help us at many levels. We just need to sit down and work through what needs to happen and how we can make it happen.”
Despite being in business for just over six months, the brewery gained a loyal community following and the Two Mates founders are hopeful they will be able to make it through.
“There’s a question if we’ll be able to come back. We need funding to come back but we have a plan.
“We’re trying to get our car park open, we’ve got two kegerators and we’re trying to clean all our cans and protect our kegs and focus on wholesale as much help as possible,” said Newton.
The Two Mates founders are determined to keep working, but said they were relatively lucky.
“It’s been unbelievable, we’re only one small part of this community, but you’ve got people who have lost houses and belongings. In all the mess in our place there are photos of families and that brings it back to reality.”
“We’re determined to get our beers our there and get as much support as we can and show people we’re still here,” said Newton.
Two Mates was not the only brewery impacted in the flooding. Out in Toowoomba, 4 Brothers Brewery encouraged people to get back out to their local and CBD breweries, and there is a is a fundraiser this Saturday (12th March) – The Great Brown LemonAID – for Brisbane breweries impacted by the flooding.