Influencers: Paul Holgate

Influencer is such a trite phrase these days, but brewing at its heart is a creative discipline and so many brewers are inspired to take up the career by others. Be it an industry legend or the brewer at their local brewpubs, Brews News is delving into the influential people behind Australia’s brewing talent.

Matt & Sharynne Wilson in their new brewery space

Moffat Beach Brewing Co is set to open a second venue on the Sunshine Coast after outgrowing its current 300L brewkit and beach café venue.

The expansion tops off a remarkable journey so far by owners Matt and Sharynne Wilson, who were working in finance in Sydney when they decided to uproot their family and buy a café in the coastal town of Caloundra more than five years ago.

When buying the café the couple had no intention of serving beer, let alone opening a brewery but brewer Matt Wilson was inspired turn the it into a craft beer venue and then fully-fledged microbrewery following a demonstration from Paul Holgate of Holgate Brewhouse in Victoria.

He and Sharynne have come a long way since they first picked up sticks and moved their lives to Queensland. After taking over the small Caloundra cafe, then called Blackwater Trading Co, the Wilsons invested in craft beer, bringing in a range of taps from the likes of 4 Pines, Stone & Wood and Holgate.

“The light bulb moment for us was when we were painting the walls [of the café], and we still had no idea what to do with it,” Matt Wilson told the Beer is a Conversation podcast.

“We got a six pack of 4 Pines Pale Ale and sat out on the benches on a Sunday afternoon. We watched the cafés on either side of us pack up at 2pm and it was teaming with people. I said to Shaz, why is no one doing beer here?

“It took a bit of vision to see what it could be… [Craft beer] was probably pretty radical for this area at that time.”

Listen to the story behind Moffat Beach Brewing Co and its plans for the future on the Beer is a Conversation podcast with Brews News editor Matt Kirkegaard.

It was after the success of the craft beer brands they put on at the café, the lineup of which included Stone & Wood’s Pacific Ale, 4 Pines’ Kolsh and Pale Ale, a Moo Brew Pilsner, Holgate’s Mount Macedon Pale and Murray’s Whale Ale, that Wilson’s interest in beer grew.

“I started brewing at home to educate myself on what it was that we were selling, and how I got into that was [through] Dan Rawlings and I’ll always be thankful for him, he was repping for Holgate at the time.

“I was a fan of 4 Pines’ beers and had [a thought] in the back of my mind putting a little microbrewery in here, but I had no idea how to do it.”

It was at an event at Brisbane’s Brewsvegas beer festival when he was truly inspired to start brewing his own.

“There was an event on…at Archive and Paul Holgate came up. He was brewing his Road Trip IPA on a brew-in-a-bag system and Dan just said, ‘why don’t you and Shaz come down and have a look at this, it’ll be a good day.’

Paul Holgate and his wife Natasha

Paul Holgate (pictured with his wife and co-founder Natasha) influenced Moffat Beach Brewery’s Matt Wilson

“So we drove down, and it was awesome. I looked over and I saw Paul had brewed his beer on a 40L urn and I went, I can fuckin’ do that!”

Decisive and determined, Matt went home, got his tools out and started building.

“I bought an urn from Craft Brewer [a brewing equipment store in Capalaba] and away I went. I overtook the garage,” Wilson said.

“Every Tuesday was my day off and I would brew every Tuesday and I’d just treat it like a job. Sometimes I’d brew twice a day.

“One day Shaz said the beers at home were tasting just as good, if not better, than the stuff that we’re buying in, and maybe we could put a little brewery in. I had this vision, I said we can do this. ”

Paul Holgate, who has seen a series of well-known brewers start out and work at the Holgate Brewhouse, told Brews News that he remembered the event Matty described, which was organised by his then-Queensland sales rep Dan Rawlings.

“I did a 50 litre or so home brew inside the back bar of Archive,” he said.

“I had about 30-50 people or so…. everyone watching me pump out the wort, and hit the target specs on gravity – it was a bit like an open kitchen and customers watching the cook. But for a few hours. In between during the quiet time I presented on each step and hops and brewing all kinds of stuff and general Q&A.

“At a Stone & Wood event in Burleigh last year [Matty] had a stand and told me the story. It was very, very humbling!”

While inspired to learn to brew by Paul Holgate, another brewing luminary gave Wilson the confidence to open his brewery.

“What really sort of made me think I can do it is when Hugh Doyle came up. He was our sales rep for Stone & Wood at the time and he brought Brad Rogers up,” Wilson told the Beer is a Conversation podcast.

“We sat here at this table and had a coffee with Brad and Hugh, and I told him I was homebrewing. He asked if my aim was to put a little microbrewery in here and I said I don’t know, I don’t really know how to go about it, but I’d love to.

“He said ‘just do it mate’.

“He probably doesn’t remember the conversation but it stuck with me.”

They then installed a 300L system, started brewing, and the rest is history.

Since then they have gone on to win Champion Small Brewery at the 2018 Indies,as well as Grand Champion Beer at the Royal Queensland Food and Wine Show earlier this year.

Has someone inspired your career in beer? Email us your Inflluence story at

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