Currumbin Valley set to expand after state grant

Currumbin Valley Brewing is set to grow with the help of a Business Boost grant from the Queensland Government.

The Gold Coast brewery, founded by Pete “Smokey” Wheldon and Luke Ronalds in 2016, applied for the $15,000 grant earlier this year to help with development costs for a new site.

It will help Currumbin Valley develop its first customer-facing venue, with future plans to develop a bigger brewery at a later date.

“Me and Pete are both excited, it’s been a long time coming for the taproom,” said Ronalds.

Member for Gaven, Meaghan Scanlon, said the Business Boost program will help businesses like Currumbin Valley grow.

“These Business Boost grants are all about helping businesses improve their efficiency and productivity and can be used for things like website upgrades, strategic marketing, training and coaching and advisory services,” Scanlon said.

Currumbin Valley currently operates from an 18-acre farm owned by Wheldon which it launched in 2018, but the current rural zoning only allows the brewery to produce 40,000 litres of beer a year.

“We can’t have a taproom up here, so we knew we’d have to look at another site,” Ronalds explained.

“We will obviously need to expand production, but the goal is to open the taproom first, as we have a brewery already.”

Now that the grant has been secured, the team can get to work on the development approvals for a new site.

The new Currumbin Valley site

Since its inception, award-winning Currumbin Valley has been predominantly a wholesale business, but it has reached the stage where the business needed the revenue margins and customer contact a taproom can provide.

“We’re excited to get the taproom open, it’s just me and Pete running everything and we want to have a place where our fans can come in and enjoy the beer and have that face-to-face contact, start employing staff and giving back like that,” Ronalds explained.

“We’ve always wanted to have the taproom because without it, it’s made the business difficult to operate – we don’t have that nice retail margin coming in.

“We’ve done well selling online and I attribute that to us winning the GABS Peoples Choice Award [for Best Festival Beer, which it won in 2019], but the taproom is crucial for a little craft brewery to survive and there aren’t many that operate without one.”

The expansion is fully self funded with the exception of the state government grant.

“It’s something we wanted to do, to try to organically grow the business without bringing investors on. I’ve never accepted investors’ money, but it’s a slow process growing the business like that,” Ronalds admitted.

Applying for a grant

Brewers are increasingly looking out for federal and state grants as governments look to support growing and recovering industries post-COVID-19.

Ronalds said that the application process was fairly straightforward.

“It’s more just knowing about it in advance. I did have to have all the documents ready which really helped. Submitting it online nearly 400 applications went through and they close it off when the funding is potentially fully taken up, I believe it was closed within the hour.

“There was obviously a lot of demand, but I had our application all ready to go when it opened. That would be my tip, have that info ready.”

Having its own taproom will be a huge milestone for Currumbin Valley Brewing, but it won’t come without a balancing act.

“I’ve worked really hard over the years to build a supportive network of wholesale customers. Luke and I understand there’ll be some limitations with our current production capacity,” said Wheldon.

“We’re working on a strategy to successfully service a taproom, online store and our wholesale customers. The guys who have helped make this dream of ours a reality.”

However, by not running the taproom build to coincide with a new brewery build, Currumbin Valley has eased some pressure on the team, and should mean the venue opening can be expedited.

“We’ll see how the taproom goes, but we’re hoping it will have to be fairly quick after that – we might be ordering equipment before the taproom opens as there’s such long lead times now.”

The team are planning to open the taproom, location currently under wraps, in 2022.

Follow Currumbin Valley Brewing’s progress with their new taproom in the next edition of the Bintani Brewery Radar.

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