New Beachport brewery to focus on local

Beachport Brewing Co. has opened on the Limestone Coast in South Australia, with a very different development trajectory than most.

The idea for a brewery stemmed from co-founders Kate and Mark Wheal, who first wanted to open a meat processing facility for their pork brand, Beachport Berkshires.

“We were looking for a site in town that we could use as a processing facility to breakdown carcasses and pack them into boxes, so it’s easier to freight and allow us to grow our marketing options,” explained Kate Wheal.

“We heard on the local grapevine that the old Fish Factory in Beachport was for sale. We’d driven past this site for many years without paying much attention, so we organised a visit with the owners and were hooked.”

Once planning began, the pair decided that the large site would also be an ideal set up for a brewery, as Wheal explained.

“Two months into planning, we decided that the huge long room at the front, that still had crayfish holding tanks in it, would be a great site for a brewery with loads of outside area for seating with great views and we could put the meat setup down the back, attached to the newest cool room,” she said.

“Suddenly, we were planning two new businesses on top of the farm.”

The Wheals are still finalising the meat facility, which they thought would be finished first. However, as Wheal explained and many brewers will know, the planning process isn’t a linear journey.

“Admittedly we thought we’d start this first and the brewery later, but it’s happened in reverse – the anticipation of everyone around us to have a brewery on the site has certainly helped build momentum,” Wheal said.

Growing barley on their farm, Beachport Brewing Co’s founders wanted to utilise this opportunity, in addition to their own homebrewing experience, to develop the recipes.

“Mark has been a keen homebrewer for many years, and built a 200L brewhouse to make the beer for our wedding seven years ago,” Wheal explained.

“We grow Planet barley already so [we] plan to get that malted, and the cows have been enjoying the spent grains from the mash.”

The journey to opening

In addition to the meat processing facility, the Beachport brewery also has a taproom licensed for 100 patrons and 65 metres of beach frontage space.

While the initial planning process for the meat facility started in November 2020, Wheal explained the development journey that followed for the brewery proved to be extensive.

“[It was] incredibly long-winded. It took nearly a year,” she said.

“It was also an old building but everything had to be brought up to modern building codes and there was not a set list of what was expected or how to go about things, it actually felt like constant roadblocks rather than getting help on the best way to do things.”

As detailed in the recent States of Brewing report, many other breweries in South Australia have also found the licensing process difficult with some calling the regime “archaic”.

Waiting for council approvals proved to be the most frustrating aspect, Wheal explained.

“On the farm we just get things done. Here, waiting for answers out of people and the continual phone calls and chasing paperwork has been very frustrating.

“Allow way more time than you think,” she advised. “We are used to working all hours of the week to get a job done, bureaucracy isn’t.”

In terms of the beers, all brewing is done on a Tiantai 1000L mash lauter and kettle whirlpool that has 7000L fermenter space. With Chris Cooley taking on the role as head brewer, the brewery launched with four beers including a Sea Fog Pale Ale, Swell Session Ale, Lipson Lager and Beachport Cream Brown Ale.

As the brewery opened over the Easter long weekend, the team are now focusing on being the go-to spot for locals throughout the entire calendar year.

“Beachport is a seasonal tourist town, usually summer through to Easter school holidays are the busy times, but it has been getting busier all year round over the last few years as people explore their own backyard more.

“We think adding another attraction to the town with a brewery will help encourage that.”

The importance of locality is a concept the Beachport team is invested in through its pork business as well as the brewery, according to Wheal.

“We are also really keen to be bringing another activity option to Beachport, add another drawcard to the area we really love and want to help thrive.

“Our pork is branded Beachport to give it that provenance, and that’s something we are carrying across to our beer too.”

Beachport Brewing Co. is open at 5 Beach Road, Beachport, SA, Australia.

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