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There’s no shortage of breweries in Australia these days. Or indeed brewing companies. Or people in the process of setting up a brewery. Or, at the very least, those talking excitedly about a future in which they would own one. But what’s it like to actually do it – to take the step from talking about brewing to putting your beers into the hands of the Australian public?
One man who has put his beers into the hands of the punters and, with the likes of the Alpha Queen and Hoppbier, found them to be to the punters’ liking is Matt Houghton. Along with wife Andrea, he formed Boatrocker a few years ago, a brewing company that had its beers brewed at Southern Bay in Geelong. The intention was always to use the contract brewing route as a means towards taking the final step of becoming the owner of a Boatrocker brewery. And, of this month, they are the owners of a brewhouse, have tanks en route to Victoria and are on the verge of sealing a venue.
As someone who has moved over time from kit brewer to all grain home brewer to contract brewer and soon-to-be brewery owner, he’s well versed in what it takes to turn a dream into reality. And, as such, we thought his journey would be a good one to tell to Crafty Pint readers. So, starting today, Matt will be recalling his journey from Cooper’s kit to what promises to include some pretty experimental brewing (but that’s for another day) when Boatrocker Brewery is up and running, hopefully before the end of this year.
“It’s an insight into the trials and tribulations of taking that leap of faith into the unknown,” says Matt. “There’s not much written about how to set up a brewery, nothing that will give you firsthand experience of what you have to go through: dealing with the council; turning your ideas into fruition.
“Aside from that, people can potentially learn from my mistakes, from what works and what doesn’t.”
All being well, Matt hopes to be brewing by November. In the meantime, he’s on the lookout for a brewer and says there are two key lessons he’s learned already.
“The biggest thing is ‘Believe nothing of what you hear and only half of what you see’,” he says. “It’s a very good adage, especially when it comes to dealing with second hand equipment or what the council says on the one hand and does on the other. The second is that everything takes longer than you think it’s going to take.”
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