New brewery to open at Brisbane marina

After a three-year development process, Scarborough Harbour Brewing Co. is set to open this weekend on Brisbane’s Redcliffe Peninsula.

Founded by husband and wife duo Sonia and Guy Schweitzer, Scarborough Harbour Brewing aims to bolster the hospitality offering in the area.

“We just felt like the area where we’re at definitely needed something for the locals and for people traveling from afar,” Sonia said.

“We fell in love with this site because we didn’t really want to go to a storage shed in an industrial area, we wanted something a bit different.”

Sitting on the Scarborough Harbour marina, the two-storey venue includes a brewery and venue downstairs which can seat 150 patrons, while the taproom upstairs has a capacity of 350.

“We didn’t look at a lot of places. The only issue we were coming up [against, when looking at other sites] was that they were too close to residential, which would be an issue in regards to having our brewery kit onsite.

“[This site] is actually 500 metres from our residence which is super convenient. We’d always walked past it and thought, ‘oh, that’s a really nice place’.”

Navigating development

But it hasn’t all been plain sailing.For many breweries-in-planning, developing a brand and choosing a name can be tricky especially when it comes to registering and protecting trademarks.

Earth Beer Co. in New South Wales and Good Land Brewing Co. in Victoria are two examples of breweries changing names after facing issues with existing trademarks.

Similarly, Scarborough Harbour was prompted to change its name before opening due to an existing trademark of a beer by another brewery.

“We had a week to change it, so we thought of celebrating the area that we’re in. That’s why we just went straight to the destination of our location.”

Once the building development began, the Scarborough Harbour team engaged with various processes through local council and state government entities, as Guy Schweitzer explained.

“Moreton Regional Bay Council was very positive and supportive and to date, we haven’t had any issues with them,” Schweitzer explained.

“On the flip side, marinas in Queensland are a bit tricky because they’re owned by the state government. So the entire marina here is owned by the Queensland government via the Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR).

“I’ll diplomatically say that process was very, very long and painful,” he explained.

While reflecting on this challenge, Schweitzer also acknowledged the difficulty of managing a marina.

“To be fair to them, the marinas used to be owned by the Port of Brisbane and they’ve only taken them over in the last few years.

“So I get the sense that they’re still trying to work out how to manage them because that process felt very disjointed. You would answer some questions, and then some more would come and that would happen constantly.

“We were on the brink of pulling out at some point, but we stuck it out and made it through. It probably cost us 12 months, that whole process.”

Combined with issues from the pandemic, the journey to opening continued to prolong however, Schweitzer explained it was a blessing in disguise.

“If we had opened up in the middle of COVID, or tried to do that, it might have been problematic,” he said.

“The only thing was, when we got to the construction period, which was late last year, outside of the pandemic, we had issues with the contractor market, because it’s really hard to get people to do anything.

“So if we had been ready earlier through TMR, we might have been able to get stuff built in a timely fashion but in some respects, I’m glad we weren’t ready back then.”

These challenges highlighted how expensive opening a brewery really is.

“We’re probably a bit different to many of the breweries in Brisbane where usually there’s a big team that contributes.

“It’s really Sonia and I. We’ve put up all the capital for it with a little bit of assistance from the bank.

“I don’t know if that’s difficult, but it’s been a solid reality check on what it actually costs. We’re lucky enough that we were able to be in a position to be able to do it without having any other third parties.”

The beer

Sam Nunnikhoven, previously with Green Beacon Brewing Co., was recruited in October 2020 as head brewer.

He brews on a Tiantai 12hL kit, and Schweitzer explained this choice was made due to height limitations within the venue.

“The building only has a 3.1-metre height clearance so, we had to fit the biggest kit we could in under that ceiling. We worked with Tiantai and they did a pretty good job of setting up the brewhouse arrangement to make it fit into the space that we have.”

Scarborough Harbour’s beers are currently contract brewed at Ballistic Beer Co. and Slipstream Brewing Co. and will continue to as the brewery build finalises.

“On opening day, we’ll have a Lager, a mid strength, an XPA and a West Coast IPA. Very shortly thereafter, we’ll have a Pale Ale and that’ll be the five that we will run with primarily.

“Then, like a lot of other breweries, every month or so, we’ll throw in something different, like a Belgian or something like that.”

With an opening date set for this weekend, Scarborough Harbour Brewing hopes to be a staple for locals, while also appealing to casual drinkers, as Schweitzer explained.

“I hope it becomes a destination. We’ve done a lot of work in here [the brewery] as it’s pretty fancy. We did that on purpose and we’ve got a really nice outlook over the Glasshouse Mountains,” he said.

“There’s not any breweries anywhere near us up here. Certainly, the nearest real breweries are like Brendale or All Inn Brewing which are about 20kms away so we need to be attractive.

“I’m hoping we’ll get a few people who want to come out here because it is a bit of a different experience to what you might get in most of the other breweries around Brisbane.”

Scarborough Harbour Brewing Co. will open this Saturday 16th April at Bird Opassage Parade, Scarborough QLD 4020.

Brewery openings are presented bySpark Breweries and Distilleries, the finest in-venue and production brewing systems available, with local design and support.

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