Capital invests $1.1m in brewery expansion

Canberran brewers Capital Brewing Co have broken ground on a $1.1 million expansion of their production and packaging facilities, just weeks after announcing a venue at the city’s airport.

The fast-growing brewery has started work on a new packaging hall adjacent to their existing site in Fyshwick, freeing up room to increase their cellar capacity to 160,000 litres.

The site will hold a new packaging hall complete with state-of-the-art canning line, centrifuge, conditioning tanks and speciality grain store.

The team is bringing in an additional 40,000 litres of tanks in time for summer 2019, as they look to keep up with growing demand just 21 months after opening their doors, explained co-managing director Laurence Kain.

“We had capacity issues for the past nine months and we had to pull the trigger to put in more tanks to meet that demand.

“It’s a project that secures our future. We’re planning five years ahead to be able to meet demand over the next five years, and meet demand this summer.

“We couldn’t meet demand last summer, we were short on stock and that was problematic.

“So with this project we’re freeing up space for more tanks as well as a microbiology lab and centrifuge, so we can get more consistency and focus on the quality of our products.”

The expansion allows Capital to grow from its current production rates of 1.2 million litres per year to 4.5 million litres annually, so maintaining consistency of quality as they grow is a major area of focus, Kain explained.

“I think quality can be a problem in our industry. There are lots of long-dated stock on shelves for example, and there’s a piece going on about educating retailers.

“If craft beer is being sold at a premium price range, then it needs to be a premium, high quality product when a customer opens it – as close as you can get to it being fresh from the brewery.”

The microbiology lab is a major part of helping to maintain Capital’s beer quality.

“The lab will be geared towards quality assurance on our products, so we can replicate the worst possible conditions in the supply chain and do micro testing at different stages,” Kain explained.

“We want to know that the Best Before on this product is appropriate. We cold store everything on site so it’s as fresh as possible, and we store in cold store warehouses where possible, minimising ambient storage. We’re working hard to prove freshness and quality as much as is possible.”

Capital’s expansion has been funded purely out of its own profits, said Kain.

“It’s all through trading, we haven’t had to raise any capital. We’re still the same company and under the same ownership, we’ve just saved our money in the piggy bank.

“We’re really careful with reinvesting what were making back into the business, we don’t want to over complicate our business with something like crowdfunding. We also want to be making decisions that are right for the beer rather than the bank.”

The brewery is also creating six local jobs with the expansion, and being part of the community and focusing on diversity are key for Capital, Kain said.

“We’re really stoked we’ve created 46 jobs that didn’t exist two years ago, and we’re really big on developing staff within our organisation, and focusing on having a gender balance in our operation will be next.

“We’ve taken people on board, put them through an Institute of Brewing & Distilling course and given them hands-on training, and that’s within 12 months of them starting.

“We’ve done similar things with hospitality staff and were very focused on growing our staff and training them and being an employer of choice.”

The new tanks will be arriving imminently with packaging in the additional site set to start at the beginning of September.

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