21/08/2007 - 22:00

Albany brewery toasts to its success

21/08/2007 - 22:00
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Albany’s Tanglehead Brewing Company has experienced such strong interest in its boutique beers that its owners are considering buying a bottling plant and finding some storage space to tap the demand.

Albany’s Tanglehead Brewing Company has experienced such strong interest in its boutique beers that its owners are considering buying a bottling plant and finding some storage space to tap the demand.

The thinking behind the expansion is very much in the early stages, however Tanglehead managing director and brewer, Allan Kelly, says it is something that will be discussed by the brewery’s shareholders in the next few weeks.

Since opening a little more than a year ago, the boutique brewer has won a bag of medals from various beer shows, and Mr Kelly says the business has performed significantly better than he had originally expected.

He said revenue had soared 50 per cent higher than his target through strong sales at the brewer’s pub restaurant and over the bar.

There had also been sale through a liquor store in Denmark and Leederville’s The International Beer Shop, while Tanglehead’s stout beer is on tap at Clancy’s Fish Pub in Fremantle.

Mr Kelly told WA Business News there had been strong interest from bottle shops in Western Australia and the east coast wanting to stock his beers.

Tanglehead brewed 60,000 litres last year, but its tanks have capacity for up to 200,000 litres per year.

Yet increasing the amount of beer Tanglehead brews will require the business to buy a bottling plant and find additional storage space.

“We are working out how we will do it and how we will cope,” Mr Kelly said.

“We would need to spend money to get more kegs, a bottling plant, and I don’t want to do too much too soon.”

“And there are also no guarantees that we will sell all the beer.”

Mr Kelly said it was a nice problem to have and he has been pleasantly surprised by the success of his beers to date.

Clancy’s initially took on two kegs of his stout ahead of the Foundation Day long weekend in June.

By the end of the weekend, the beer had sold out and Mr Kelly had to send up another four kegs.

The past year has been a huge sea change for Mr Kelly, who is a geologist by trade but got out of the mining game to relocate to the town where he spent his childhood.

Mr Kelly first thought about building his own brewing business while working in the United States and seeing the growth of the micro brewing sector.

Some time after returning to Australia, he took the plunge and completed a brewing course with Edith Cowan University part-time while continuing his geology career.

He found an old pub on Albany’s waterfront that would provide the suitable site, and after three shareholders in the brewing venture bought the premises he set about a massive renovation.

Mr Kelly said the intention from the outset was to establish a venue that would be a local crowd pleaser as well as attract the tourist trade.

“We didn’t want to rely on tourists, we wanted to be the local hang-out place because it does get quiet in winter and we thought there was a market for a nice pub with a restaurant in the middle of town,” he said.

Mr Kelly said the restaurant regularly books out at the latter end of the week, while also picking up a healthy trade earlier in the week when many other restaurants in town are closed.

Tanglehead, named after the very first beer brewed in Albany more than 100 years ago, brews seven beers including a German-style wheat beer called Southern White Ale, as well as a pale ale and a mid-strength.

Mr Kelly said more people are enjoying locally brewed products because they appreciated the difference in flavour.

“Imported beers are often two to three months old, or there are beers brewed by big breweries that don’t use fresh ingredients and there is a different taste altogether,” Mr Kelly said.

“It is starting to go back to the good old days where people bought local.”

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