The upside for Otherside Brewing Co

Western Australia’s Otherside Brewing Co has signalled its upward intentions, recruiting some big-name players to bolster its beer team.

In the space of three weeks, the emerging WA brewery has added a renowned brand specialist to guide the label, a local sales guru to steer distribution and Australia’s only Advanced Cicerone to oversee the group’s expansion.

And more craft beer seekers on the west coast, and maybe a few in the eastern States, will be going to the Otherside over the next 12 months.

Last week the brewery’s parent company, Triple-1-Three, appointed Al Taylor as its first chief executive officer following 12 months of unexpected growth.

Taylor was previously chairman and group managing director of WA advertising agency 303MullenLowe. After joining that firm in 2000 he was instrumental in expanding the company into the eastern states and building it to become Australia’s largest independently owned agency, before its acquisition by US-listed communications group IPG (InterPublic Group).

Since leaving 303MullenLowe two years ago he has been part of the silent investment team that has helped fund Otherside’s rapid transition.

Two weeks before Taylor joined, Steve Finney also joined Otherside as chief sales manager. Finney was at Feral during its glory days when Hop Hog was the favourite craft pale ale in the country. He was also at Gage Roads when it launched the “Return to Craft” program that accelerated the brewery’s brand awareness around the country.

Finney supervises a strong local Otherside team but has just appointed a Melbourne-based sales operative to boost the brewery’s exposure interstate.

Around the same time as Finney’s arrival, Matt Marinich came on board to manage Otherside’s brewhouse in Myaree and guide the opening of Triple-1-Three’s new microbrewery and entertainment facility in the heart of Fremantle.

Marinich worked at Perth’s Print Hall and Fremantle’s The Monk before crossing to Melbourne to be venue manager of the highly-successful Stomping Ground. While working for the popular brewpub he travelled to the US to complete the third level of the Cicerone program.

At this point of Triple-1-Three’s journey, Marinich has the task of guiding the opening of the company’s entertainment base in Fremantle to be called Freo.Social. But he could soon be looking after more venues in the company stable.

It is remarkable that 30 months ago Triple-1-Three hadn’t brewed a beer.

The Otherside brand was the brainchild of founders and directors James Legge and David Chitty, who, through their company Sunset Events, have been involved in some of WA’s leading music fixtures, including West Coast Roots and Blues festival and Southbound.

Legge and Chitty wanted a beer for their events. So they called in Rhys Lopez (ex-Gage Roads and The Monk) who delivered the appropriately titled Festival Session Ale (4.2%).

Its success led to the Harvest Red Ale (5.4%). After it too proved popular, Triple-1-Three determined Lopez could no longer operate on a gypsy brewing basis.

So the Otherside team converted an old panel and paint shop in Myaree into a 1,000-square-metre, 20-hectolitre brewhouse that could pump out 300,000 litres of beer a year. There is room to produce three times that amount by the end of the year.

And with Social Classic Lager (4.7%) and Anthem India Pale Ale (6.2%) finding shelf space in major retailers such as Dan Murphy’s, Lopez might need the extra capacity.

The sale of every one of Lopez’s beers helps fund Triple-1-Three’s Tapped By Otherside program, which provides grants to local artists. A total of $60,000 has been set aside to assist singers, band managers and filmmakers in 2018-19.

Along the journey, the Triple-1-Three team bought a fleet of food trucks under the Nomads banner that would not only service the Myaree operation but also the new Fremantle entertainment hall that can cater for 550 people. The venue will also allow Lopez to do some experimentation on a much smaller kit.

The Freo.Social facility is currently undergoing its final touches. The building is well known in WA as the former Fly By Night club that staged many concerts. Originally, it was an artillery drill hall.

Marinich will oversee both the Myaree and Fremantle facilities.

In an interview with Brews News, Taylor confirmed there could be more Otherside locations for Perth in the near future but kept them under wraps.

While the brewing program has grown faster than anticipated and become the shining light of the Triple-1-Three portfolio, the group’s business ethos is about creating entertainment spaces for the public. It just happens that beer plays a key part in establishing those opportunities.

“There has been this idea about the ‘venue and brewing concept’ – it is a bigger idea than that,” Taylor said.

“The plan has always been to create a really great craft product but to also broaden the delivery of experiences. Triple-1-Three is designed to create experiences that are aligned with who we see as our audience, those in craft beer and music.

“Our founders James and David have a long background in running festivals so it was a natural transition for them to branch into fixed entertainment venues. The idea is to build on that DNA by creating different brands under the banner that connect with the people who want that kind of experience.

“There are lots of people making really great beer and we need to produce a really great product – and Rhys is certainly doing so for us – but these days it needs to be more than that. The brand needs to stand for something more than just being a great beer.

“We have the music, the Tapped by Otherside program, whereby we help fund bands and artists, and the venues. We have to be a social amplifier and a creative amplifier.”

Taylor said he expects Freo.Social to be open within a couple of months. The facility will liven the port, which is in dire need of an entertainment boost.

“Freo.Social will be a tangible example of what we want to do,” Taylor said.

“We have a microbrewery, food trucks and beer gardens but we have a fairly substantial hall that will have a variety of experiences like live music and other shows and it will be a social hub for people to come together.

“There is a collective of people who might be different in age and interests but they’re connected by the want to enjoy different experiences. We want to give them the opportunity to come together.”

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