11/01/2005 - 21:00

Colonial takes brewing back to centuries past

11/01/2005 - 21:00


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MARGARET River’s newest boutique brewery, Colonial Brewing Co, has travelled a steep learning curve in recent months.

Colonial takes brewing back to centuries past

MARGARET River’s newest boutique brewery, Colonial Brewing Co, has travelled a steep learning curve in recent months.

The brewery opened in late September 2004, on the first weekend of the school holidays, and has been busy ever since, according to managing director and founder Ross Smith.

“It was the first long weekend of the school holidays and we got swamped,” he says.

“When I wrote the business plan I wanted the focus to be on families and a place for the locals in the area.

“You can order things for $14.50 on our lunch menu and we figure that if you look after the locals they will underwrite the business during the slow season and it will also be a pleasant surprise for tourists.”

Mr Smith says he hopes to replicate the business in other parts of Australia and anticipates opening five Colonial Brewing Co sites in the next five years.

“We don’t have Margaret River in our name for that reason,” he says.

“I spent a lot of time and money on brand development with a view to franchise the business.

“I can see one in Mandurah and you could retro fit-out a Perth hotel. We’ve had inquiries from Noosa and people living in Sydney wanting to build something like Little Creatures there.”

Mr Smith, who moved to Margaret River to retire three years ago, also had ambitious plans for the DaytraderHQ business, which later became Halcyon and of which he was a director.

DaytraderHQ focused on sharemarket software and data recovery centre Perth iX but failed to reach the tech goals established and eventually went into the mining sector.

Launched in 2001, Perth iX cost an estimated $3.6 million to build and was sold three years later for $1 million to E-Span.

Mr Smith remains upbeat about his past business experience, citing the business he helped develop, Request DSL, which was sold for $56 million,

And he believes the beer business is sound.  

“Everyone who has been here can’t believe what we’ve done and they want to have one from where they’ve come from.”

Colonial Brewing Co, and its irreverent branding, certainly won favour with the Christmas crowds this year.

More than 300 people visited the property for lunch each day.

Colonial Brewing sits on 20 hectares of land, which includes vines contracted to Redgate Wines.

“We grow wine for Redgate and we have their bottled wine, it’s a great deal because I had no interest in building a winery here,” Mr Smith says.

“There’s 116 cellar doors down here and I thought ‘all Margaret River needs is another cellar door’, so I looked at alternatives.”

Colonial Brewing Co has eight beers, with four sold all year round and another four seasonal varieties.

Steve Ploughman is the head brewer in charge of the 600-litre Brew House, 6,000L litre fermen-tation tank and the 8,500L serving tank.

“Most new micro breweries copy American beer, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but what we’ve done is go back to European recipes from 200 to 300 years ago,” Mr Smith says. 

“They’re really nice and full-flavoured ales.”

Colonial Brewing Co is situated about nine kilometres north of the Margaret River townsite and is open daily from 10am until 6pm.


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