Connections on tap: How Brisbane EDA delivered a warm welcome for BrewDog
Updated: 14 July 2021
Company information: BrewDog
- BrewDog’s 1st Australian location
- $10M invested
- 60 jobs created
When Scottish craft beer giant BrewDog were choosing their Australian headquarters, the deciding factors that got Brisbane over the line included connections, climate and community.
Brisbane, the beer city
Could Brisbane be Australia’s best city for beer? BrewDog’s head of Australian operations Calvin McDonald argues it is, and has been overwhelmed by the city’s support of the Scottish-based brewery since it set up shop in Brisbane in 2019.
“Brisbane really is an absolutely amazing beer city, it's an amazing brewing scene, and it's only getting better,” McDonald says.
“When we were looking at our entry into Australia, we wanted to be part of a community that was growing, that was enthusiastic about the future of the industry. Everything that we hoped for has come true here.”
The Scottish company was driven to open a brewery in Australia in order to get their beer here faster and fresher.
“We’d sold our beer in Australia since 2010 and it had always gone relatively well for us as an export market,” McDonald says, “but we were never happy with the amount of time it took to get from Scotland to Australia. So we thought the best thing to do was to build a brewery here and distribute it ourselves.
“Opening in Brisbane gave us an amazing opportunity to do that, not just across Australia, but in New Zealand, the Pacific, and Southeast Asia as well going forward.”
Connecting the dots
The business set up shop on the banks of the Brisbane river in Murarrie, an industrial but accessible suburb on the city’s south side. For trade, McDonald says, location was everything.
“The fact that Brisbane is such a well connected city and the site we have here is right next to the Gateway Motorway gives us amazing road links,” he says.
“Even though we're in a relatively inner-city site, you can be in the Gold Coast in 45 minutes and the Sunshine Coast in 45 minutes. It's really well located.”
Finding the site was a task in itself, and BrewDog was grateful for the support of the state and local government in securing the spot they now call home.
“Brisbane EDA were very helpful in facilitating the move,” Mcdonald says.
“I think we found about 30 different potential sites for us. We shortlisted them and went around to look at them and eventually identified the preferred site in Murarrie.
“Brisbane EDA then introduced me to lots of different organisations that helped us to facilitate what we wanted to do. They were absolutely instrumental in getting our planning approval, building approvals, liquor licencing, all those sorts of things.”
Once the location was secured and the build was complete, BrewDog’s much anticipated first Aussie tap room opened to the public in November 2019.
While the tap room was always going to be an important part of the BrewDog business in Australia, McDonald says they never expected it to be the success that it is.
“The hospitality part of the business is generally a ‘nice to have’, but the tap room has actually performed revenue wise more than double than what he hoped it would,” he says. “You have to book two weeks in advance if you want a table here on a Saturday. We have been absolutely blown away by the support here.
“That support has allowed us to be close to the point of announcing our second Brisbane location, and it's allowed me to be out pounding the streets of Perth and Sydney and Newcastle trying to look for more BrewDog sites. We've had so much support in Brisbane that we have real confidence to expand right across Australia using Brisbane as our HQ.
“From a personal perspective, I absolutely love living and operating in Brisbane. It's always interesting when we have potential clients or customers coming up from Melbourne and Sydney who haven’t been to Brisbane for a little while, because they're always blown away by what a stunning city it is, how welcoming it is, and just how vibrant the scene is here.
“There's something cool happening every single week, something new happening, and it's just a really nice place to live and work.”
BrewDog’s business success is based on the brand and product it built prior to its arrival in Brisbane, but McDonald says you can’t underestimate the power of a good location and good connections.
“When you couple those connections with the support of Brisbane EDA, who are genuinely interested in attracting businesses and supporting them, and celebrating the successes that Brisbane has facilitated for them, it's a really welcoming environment,” he says.
“I genuinely feel like if I need anything and don’t have a contact yet, I could pick up the phone to numerous people across the city and within 10 minutes I'll have three different people to speak to who can help me out.
“A problem never stays a problem for long in Brisbane.”
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