Australian Economy

Maverick brewers coast to Brisbane success

Riverside taphouse

DogTap, their lantern-festooned flagship taphouse is one of the few boozers in the world accessible by jet ski.

DogTap is one of the few taphouses in the world accessible by jet ski. Pandora Photography

So what motivated the brewers to begin their world domination of the amber fluid market from Brisbane?

“Brisbane was a great fit for us as its geographical location makes it easy to make our product available right down the Australian East Coast, and with future export to Asia in mind it was a case of futureproofing ourselves,” says McDonald, whose brewery has been operating in Scotland since 2007 and has since grown to over 100 hospitality venues globally, brewed over 500 different beers and opened four breweries, most recently in Brisbane in 2019.

“The tremendous craft beer scene in Brisbane was also something that we were excited to become a part of.

“Setting up a business from scratch in any new market is always going to be extremely challenging. Absolutely everything from finding the right location to meeting new suppliers requires much more work than in your home market; so all the introductions that Brisbane Economic Development Agency and the Queensland Government were able to make for us certainly helped immensely.”

BrewDog’s head of Australian operations, Calvin McDonald. 

The rewards from their three-year Australian journey have been immense, says McDonald.

“We’re now in a situation where we are part of an amazing community, with great contacts who are genuinely happy to help out. The taproom has performed beyond our wildest expectations thanks to the support of our amazing locals; and now we’re seeing our Brisbane-brewed beers out and about all across Australia. It’s the fruition of a lot of hard work.”

One of the key drivers for any manufacturing business is availability of ingredients, he says.

“In fact, one of the key reasons we decided to open a brewery in Australia is so that we could have super fresh beer available in Australia.

“This means that we can have the very best examples of our product available across the country, something that we were just unable to do previously.”

Having established that serving fresh beer to thirsty customers in a convivial riverside beer garden atmosphere is a winning formula, is this something the firm can cash in on when it comes to exporting to Asia?

“We have bars in Shanghai, Seoul and Tokyo; so while the brewery is currently in its infancy and export is not yet practical for us; when we finally do start to export we are in the perfect place to connect fresh beer to those markets. Opening in Brisbane was about future proofing.”

The team will also be opening a second Brisbane taproom this Friday 11 November, as well their first Melbourne pub.

“We are also doubling the capacity of our brewery; and have achieved our first national listings. Thereafter, it’s about continuing to add venues for us nationally and internationally, and increasing sales across Australia. This is an ongoing process and the incremental growth of both the brewery and hospitality sides of the business is imperative.”

Unstoppable momentum

The lifestyle opportunities that Brisbane offers McDonald and his team “are second to none”.

“The fact that you can have city centre living with all of the amazing sports, live music and restaurants that Brisbane boasts; yet be 20 minutes to the airport, half an hour to world class beaches and not much further to the Scenic Rim is a real selling point when attracting talent.

“The climate also does us no harm.”

McDonald heaped praise on Brisbane Economic Development Agency (BEDA), a wholly owned subsidiary of Brisbane City Council, which plays a vital role in growing Brisbane’s economy, driving demand for Brisbane, and creating growth and trade opportunities for local Brisbane businesses.

BrewDog is one of many businesses to expand in Brisbane in recent years. Pandora Photography

“BEDA were instrumental in allowing us to make connections locally; whether that be with potential landlords and developers or with local suppliers. Connecting us with local government has also been extremely useful in allowing us to advance projects.”

Asked his advice for other businesses considering setting up in the region, McDonald says: “Brisbane is an extremely supportive city at all levels. Genuinely, just reach out and ask – a problem is never a problem for long in Brisbane.”

BEDA CEO Anthony Ryan says the agency’s goal is to support businesses like BrewDog as well as investors looking to expand or relocate to Brisbane or Australia.

“We help build a connected, collaborative and commercially-focused business community, we fill gaps in local knowledge and leverage our extensive network to support growth and trade opportunities locally and globally.

“Success stories like global expanders BrewDog should excite businesses and investors about the opportunities for growth and investment here in Brisbane,” says Ryan.

When it comes to BrewDog’s export ambitions, they could not have picked a better place from which to spring into Asia, says Ryan.

“One of Brisbane’s biggest strengths is our proximity to key export markets. We’re the closest eastern seaboard capital city to Australia’s three largest export markets – China, Japan and South Korea – enabling Brisbane as a thriving logistics hub that connects local business and industry to the world,” says Ryan.

“We are perfectly positioned to connect and support businesses ready to expand or export.”

Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner says Brisbane’s lifestyle, affordability and climate are attracting a wave of interstate migration, bringing new talent, new customers and new opportunities to the city, with a flow on effect to local businesses.

“The commercial opportunities are exciting, but beyond this, Brisbane offers an incredible lifestyle and liveability.

“We’ve got a unique mix of riverside hubs, laneways and neighbourhoods, luxury hotels, world-class dining and art galleries, music venues and rooftop bars. We’re Australia’s nature capital, home to some of the world’s largest sand islands and heritage-listed rainforests.

“More than 20 new luxury hotels have opened in the city in recent years and precincts like Howard Smith Wharves, Fish Lane and James Street, have established themselves as must-visit destinations for five-star dining, fashion and entertainment.”

In addition, Schrinner says, “the green and gold runway to 2032 is a huge opportunity.”

“As host of the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Brisbane’s economic development is going to accelerate even faster.

“The next 10 to 20 years are a once in a lifetime opportunity for business, investors and innovators to capitalise on the growth of Brisbane.”

“Brisbane is rapidly evolving, undergoing major transformation and revival – from our precincts and public transport to infrastructure and new asset development, galvanising the city’s potential to further accelerate our economy.

To learn more visit Choose Brisbane.

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