Tall Timbers secures WA grant
Tall Timbers Brewing Co. in South West WA has grown capacity with the help of a Regional Economic Development grant.
Mila Holdings, trading as Tall Timbers Brewing Company, received $92,714 in funding in a recent RED round, highlighting Western Australia’s ongoing support for the brewing industry.
According to the States of Brewing Report, WA was one of the most generous states to breweries last year, giving individual breweries $3.18 million in grant and other funding.
Tall Timbers managing director and co-founder Ed Fallens explained that while Tall Timbers was only founded in the town of Manjimup 2020, it quickly outgrew its brewing equipment.
“We got our brewery and we were up and running, but like any brewery [we got to the point where we needed to expand] so we did the grant application for increased fermentation space and production capacity.
“We’d spent the money we had to get where we could, we had everything we needed so there was nothing stopping us from brewing a lot more than we were except, obviously, where you stop is the amount of fermentation space you’ve got.
“[This grant] allowed us to put in additional tank space, and water treatment for the water corporation so we could expand that way.”
It helped during the process that, while only a young brewery, Tall Timbers was already established in that it had invested in a 15bbl (2,000-litre) system, 12 tanks, and a canning line.
“We were up and running and producing so the additional money allowed us to expand which was the objective for the grant – we were set to expand and ready to go,” Fallens explained.
A variation on the grant also allowed Tall Timbers to invest in water treatment.
“We were actually going to do fermentation tanks and some additional cool room capacity,” explained Fallens.
But changes in water company requirements mean that they need to reroute some of the funding to focus on the treatment of the brewery’s wastewater.
“We had to have these flow metres and automatic systems so we put in for a variation of the grant from the cool room….and that went towards upgrading this water treatment plant.
“It would have limited [our brewing], so we had to spend some money on preparing the water for the sewer…we had to do it in order to brew more beer.”
Tall Timbers lauded the South West Development Commission, which helps run the grants program, for their support of local businesses.
“Lots of businesses get really good support from them. My understanding is that [lots of breweries] have received help.”
Despite some apprehension about whether Tall Timbers should spend the time to apply, Fallens explained that it was a worthwhile process.
“It was almost like an undercurrent of, you know, is that even worth applying? How do people get it [before applying]?” he explained. But he did not underplay the challenge of applying for a state government grant.
“It was very difficult, you still don’t think you’re going to get it, and the second thing is the questions…it takes hours and I think you need help with it.”
Tall Timbers secured help from a grant writer who had already worked within government, and Fallens said this service was invaluable.
“[If I was to do it again] I would pay someone to do the grant – if [our grant writer] hadn’t come along I probably would have answered it all wrong!
“In this day and age all councils have obviously got to do their due diligence. So it says at the start what the objectives of the grant are depending on what grant it is, but they want to create jobs and industry and economic benefit to regional towns, in effect.”
But while it had its challenges, Fallens had a positive experience of grant applications.
“It’s really approachable. You can ring them up and explain we’re doing this and that, they send you towards the guidelines and even if you pull up the website, you can find explanations as to why they thought projects were good.”
Fallens explained that given the difficulties WA faced during COVID, the grant provided some welcome support.
“COVID was a nightmare…We took over the tavern and we took over a hotel to do the brewery, we took that over at the end of December , so we got no Jobkeeper, no funding, nothing. But we came back and we did this and it was amazing…it actually is inspirational, it’s more than getting the money, it’s that someone believes in you.”