Sydney's Sauce Brewing to put beer in Cairns

Sydney’s Sauce Brewing has teamed up with brewery incubator fund Founders First and announced plans to open a brewpub in Cairns, Far North Queensland.

The venue will feature a 10 hL pilot brewery and cater to 400 diners with a strong hospitality focus.

Sauce founder Mike Clarke said he was looking at taking a little bit of Marrickville to the far north.

“I’ve had additional Sauce venues on my radar for a while now. It’s a really exciting way to build our presence beyond Marrickville,” he said.

He said while Sauce Marrickville is first and foremost a production facility, with the taproom being ancillary, Cairns and any future brewpubs will focus primarily on the venue and hospitality experience.

“With this new venture we’ll be bringing the Sauce taproom experience from Marrickville to Cairns – giving customers in Queensland’s north a taste of Inner West Sydney’s craft beer scene, with super-fresh locally brewed beer.

“We’ll focus on hospitality with full lunch and dinner, restaurant style supporting the beer side.”

Clarke said he chose Cairns as he “just liked it up there”.

“It’s nice and warm,” he said.

“I had been looking at extra venues all over the place and just happened to be there for a holiday had a look around. This space was perfect for what we wanted to do.”

Acknowledging the seasonality of the far north, Clarke said he recognised that it has a winter tourism season.

“The good thing is its the opposite to our high season and low season so it spreads things out a little bit.”

“There’s enough people in Cairns to keep things going during the wet season, it’s not a little holiday destination, it’s a good sized town of 150,000 people, so the focus is very much on creating a venue that is going to appeal to the locals just as much as the tourists to keep you alive in that season.”

While not a recognised beer region, Clarke said he saw the huge response that his soon-be-be rival brewery Hemingway’s got to their beer festival earlier this year.

“It’s not what Melbourne and Sydney is [in terms of craft beer] but the reception among the people there has been really good,” he explained.

“Hemingway’s put on a beer festival in July this year and it absolutely went off.

“We find this everywhere we go in regional areas. Even though they’re not booming, the demand is there and they’re really receptive to try new things, it’s just a matter of convincing publicans to move with the times.

“Cairns is a different climate so we’ll need some different beers to what we sell in Marrickville, sessionable easy-drinking crisp kind of beers. We’ll also have the big bold flavours that we have in Sydney.”

A smaller on-site brewhouse will brew the regular Sauce range plus an ever-changing menu of special batches unique to each location.

Sauce joins Victoria’s Jetty Road and Newcastle’s Foghorn Brewhouse in the Founders First stable.

“The team at Founders First bring significant resources and experience in operating world-class venues, some welcome funding, and most importantly they’re just a great bunch of people who’ve been a pleasure to work with,” Clarke said.

He said that in addition to the JV in Cairns, the Sauce sales team will join forces with the Founders First operated “Sales Collective” designed to combine the sales resources of several independent breweries, including Foghorn, Jetty Road and Sauce. More investments from Founders First are expected.

A statement from the brewery said the benefits of this arrangement are expanded reach, economies of scale, and a sales management team who can support and nurture the brewery’s staff.

“The benefit to our trade customers is that they will now see a single sales rep with access to multiple independent brands, which is a huge time saver for retailers and publicans who are being bombarded by dozens of reps a day, each pushing a single product,” the statement read.

“It was really important to me that my guys are well looked after in this arrangement” Clarke says.

“They’ve now had the opportunity to spend some time with the Sales Collective team and their feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, so it’s clear we’ve found a good fit.”

The venue located in prime position on Lake Street in the CBD, is targeted to open mid-2020.

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