Twenty years ago, six brothers from Sydney with a passion for craft beer and hospitality began taking small steps towards creating a range of signature Australian craft brews.
Along the way, these steps have become giant leaps.
From a small brewery in the Hunter Valley to a state-of-the art microbrewery in northwest Sydney, the company’s mission has been based around three words: fresh, pure, Australian.
The Australian Brewery, opened in the western Sydney suburb of Rouse Hill just five years ago, produces craft beers now selling all over the country and, since last year, around the world.
While the same can be said of other operations in the Australian craft beer scene, what sets these brothers apart is what might seem at first glance like a small packaging differentiator: they put the beer in cans, for the benefit of the product backed by scientific reasoning.
Canning conventional methods
“We are the first craft brewers to can,” Marcello Colosimo, founder and CEO of The Australian Brewery, told Business Insider.
“We’ve always aimed to be at the top of innovation when it comes to craft brewing in Australia, especially on an environmental and consumer beneficial level.
“Beer is a delicate product, easily affected by light, oxygen and heat. Through the use of cans, we are able to completely eliminate light from affecting our product and get it to the consumers in the best condition possible.”
Colosimo says canning beers also allows for huge savings in weight and materials.
“It takes 92% less material to make a can rather than a bottle and needs around 40% less volume once cased-up and ready to be sent out,” he said.
“Aluminium is also vastly more recyclable than glass.”
Considering the growing greener attitudes of consumers, The Australian Brewery dedicates a bunch of resources towards sustainable and eco-efficient operations.
“Almost three quarters of our heating requirements are powered from green solar energy, including the use of solar hot water. In line with this, we also recycle impressively large majorities of the glass, cardboard and oil that’s used,” Colosimo said.
“We donate all of our spent grains to a local farmer whose cows are said to wait by the gate as he arrives with, on average, 2-3 tonnes of beer infused grain every week.”
Beyond western Sydney
From the outset the brothers wanted a brand that went beyond Sydney’s West.
“This is why from the beginning we started with the development of our name, The Australian Brewery, portraying signs of our intention to go national and international,” Colosimo said.
“Our first purpose was to get the beer right.”
They came up with four brews — a pale ale, pilsner, dark larger and an “extra happy ale”.
With branding and packaging to follow the business was quickly ready to launch domestically and nationally, both on and off premises.
“Having the experience of building and running a small brewery in the Hunter Valley gave us the insights of successful expansion methods into larger markets.”
This prior know-how also allowed the brothers to maintain all the brewing in-house, eliminating the margin for compromise.
“Our brand and culture is key,” Colosimo said.
“As any growing business we are constantly innovating to better administer production and distribution, especially with our consistent growth, however our ethos remains the same – that every beer leaving our brewery is in perfect condition.”
The range now includes a Saison D’ Heretique, a fresh press cider and a Mexican lager.
Colosimo says the most visible sign of success is how quickly beers and cider leave the brewery.
Only fools rush in
International launches followed in 2014, starting with Japan.
The Abbott government’s landmark free trade agreement last year paved the way for the beer producers to secure lucrative distribution contracts in the land of the rising sun.
“We’re very careful on selecting the right partnerships in each location,” Colosimo said.
“It’s not something we rush into lightly. Ensuring our partners all have the same business and brand philosophy and passion as we do enables us to ensure our business ethos is consistent throughout.”
The Australian Brewery distributes Australia-wide in the majority of major players’ outlets and is increasing exports to Japan, while bringing on distribution in Singapore and Hong Kong.
“We’ve been constantly seeing our sales increase to over 100%. As far as manufacturing expansion, we are now double the size we were when launching,” Colosimo said.
“The next phase is to solidify business in the USA, Canada, India and China – all of which are in progress. If these all pan-off as we anticipate we definitely will be looking at new challenges for further expansion.
“We even had an enquiry on shipping our beer to Kazakhstan recently. Anything’s possible.”
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