Connections on tap: How Brisbane delivered a warm welcome for Scottish craft beer business BrewDog
Updated: 24 May 2022
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 became home to BrewDog’s state-of-the-art brewery and first Australian tap room in November 2019, with the $10 million investment creating 60 jobs for the city.
Faster and fresher
The Scottish company identified a need to open a brewery in Australia to get their beer here faster and fresher.
BrewDog’s head of Australian operations Calvin McDonald said Brisbane’s ability to service the Australian market, as well as its proximity to the Pacific and Southeast Asia, made it a clear winner.
“When we were looking at our entry into Australia, we wanted to be part of a community that was growing and that was enthusiastic about the future of the industry – everything we hoped for has come true here,” McDonald says.
“We’d sold our beer in Australia since 2010 and it had always gone relatively well for us as an export market. 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.”
Brisbane is the closest seaboard capital city to Australia’s three largest export markets – China, Japan and Republic of Korea and is positioned to support local businesses as a thriving logistics centre.
BrewDog is set up 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.
“Brisbane is such a well-connected city and the site we have right next to the Gateway Motorway and M1 gives us amazing road links,” McDonald 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 location.
“Brisbane Economic Development Agency (BEDA) are genuinely interested in attracting and supporting businesses and were instrumental in facilitating the move,” McDonald says.
“I think we found about 30 different potential sites. We shortlisted them and went around to look at them and eventually identified the preferred site in Murarrie.
“Brisbane Economic Development Agency then introduced us 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.”
“Brisbane is a really welcoming environment. 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.
As the fastest growing capital city in Australia, with a thriving $229 billion economy anticipated by 2031, Brisbane is attracting a wave of interstate migration with a flow-on effect to local businesses.
McDonald said BrewDog’s Brisbane-based Tap Room had become a popular location that had exceeded revenue expectations.
“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 we 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.
“That support has given us the confidence to expand right across Australia.”
Unique Brisbane lifestyle
With its subtropical climate, unrivalled natural experiences and thriving dining, shopping and culture scene, in Brisbane, opportunity and liveability go hand in hand, something McDonald attests to.
“From a personal perspective, I absolutely love living and operating in Brisbane,” McDonald says.
“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 and new happening every single week and it’s just a really nice place to live and work.”
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