When the news first broke that Burra Brewing Co was going to be opening in Korumburra I was excited, I have been closely following their progress on their facebook page ever since I saw an article about the opening earlier in the year.
I grew up in East Gippsland where I spent the first 26 years of my life before moving to the South Eastern suburbs of Melbourne. I’m a country boy at heart so the one thing I really miss the most is rural Victoria in all its glory. The absence of living in an area I love has given me a soft spot for small independent breweries in regional Victoria where their focus is to support local communities and using local produce wherever possible.
This week I contacted Burra Brewing Co and this is some of what they had to say.
The Idea of Opening a Brewery
On a blokes golf weekend, 2 brothers and a mate come up with an idea of opening a brewery. How many of you could honestly say this same conversation has happened with your mates whether it be on the golf course, at the pub or anywhere beer is involved, I know this has happened with me many times. Over many beers, on this weekend Phill Dempster, Anthony Dempster and Luke Jones come up with a very rough plan to which Phill said: “It all seemed like a pipe dream”. After this weekend the guys started meeting up to discuss ideas on a venue, style, beers and how they would pull investments together to make the brewery dream a reality.
Burra Brewing Co consists of 3 owners.
Phill is the head brewer and has been crafting beers for well over 20 years, he brewed his first batch of beer when he was only 17. Phills brewing journey has been pretty typical as far as the homebrewing world goes. Starting out with a Coopers homebrew kit extract brewing, then moving on to adding addition hops, before moving on to all grain brewing 50-litre batches from scratch. He refined his skills by focusing largely on the water chemistry and temperatures before completing a Master Brewers Course with Vince Costanzo.
Phill is perfectly complemented by his business partners. Both Anthony and Luke have lived and travelled all through Europe discovering a vast array of the different beers that are on offer. Anthony owns an engineering and sheet metal business but also has worked in the hospitality industry. Luke is a financial planner who has a background of being a financial controller of some large hotel groups.
Through drive, resilience and mateship these three guys pulled off every bloke’s dream, to own a brewery. Their backgrounds combined should mean promising things to come from this brewery and I’m really looking forward to sampling some of their beers. Phill mentioned to me that, “we needed to get our wives involved and they’re all on board just as much as us”. They are definitely living the dream.
A word from the Owners
Tell me a little bit about the venue?
At one stage we were looking to build in the 100 year heritage-listed train station, this wasn’t going to work with too many hoops to jump through. We found a few other buildings in town but nothing suits us better than what we’re in now. We started some small works on the building back in mid-2017 but the real construction didn’t start until Feb 2018. We had a big vision for the building and its all come together now but it hasn’t been light work. We’ve pulled about 180T of rock, concrete and dirt from the site, and poured countless loads of rock and concrete back in. We’ve worked with all local trades to make this old building we all know come back into life.
Why in Korumburra?
It was always intended for Korumburra, we are passionate about all things South Gippsland and the ever-growing list of producers of fine foods and wines/beverages. Korumburra is right in the sweet spot, its 1 1/2 from Melbourne CBD (45min from the outskirts) and its only 30min from the bass coast. (Inverloch).
What beer will be the inaugural brew?
Our Golden Ale for sure, it’s an easy drinking 3.4% lightly hopped beer. People are always asking if I am going to make a mid-strength beer and its something you don’t have to be a massive craft fan to enjoy.
What sort of beer do we expect to see first up?
Ales are what we will open with, and nothing over the top. We’ve plenty of time to present the “out there” beers to the public. I expect to open with our Golden, Dark, IPA, Pale and Summer Ales. We’ve some cool beers to follow them up with, and some we’ll use local produce to bring the extra pop to the beer.
Explain a bit about your equipment, capacities of new technologies etc.
Our equipment has been supplied by Spark Breweries and Distilleries. We looked at many options when it came to equipment. Very early in the process, we decided to brew on quality gear and not build a system. Sourcing a supplier is a process in itself, and Spark became a real standout with quality gear and friendly service. Our system is a 15hL 3 vessel brewhouse, with 90hL of fermentation space (2x 15hL and 2x 30hL) The fermentation tanks and brewhouse will allow for double batching larger volumes when the demand is right.
How has the experience been so far setting up the brewery?
The experience has been demanding but worth every moment, getting out of bed in the morning is much easier when its all about your own dreams. The industry is open and transparent when it comes to help and ideas. Suppliers are always happy to help and work with you when they know its a brewery.
When do we expect to see the brewery open and what have you got planned for when you do?
Not a day goes by without me being asked this very question “When are you opening….Have you got a date yet”
Many plans have gone into our opening, it’s a staggered opening with us bringing the beer to the public first. The second stage we will open our kitchen up and over a period of time this will increase on what its got to offer. Our opening date hasn’t been set yet, we’ve made that mistake way too many times. It’s about making sure everything is right for when we open. That being said we tell people mid-year, this gives us a couple of months from now to make it happen.
Where Can I Find Burra Brewing Co
12 Commercial St Korumburra
I can’t wait until Burra Brewing Co opens thier doors so I can take the drive down to foothills of the Strzelecki Ranges and see what they have to offer.
The brewery will be open to the public on 11th August. If you get down there I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.