Once the home of a Holden dealership, the now vacant premises in Kiama will be transformed into a new “brewpub” by next winter, bringing with it about 20 jobs.
Co-owners Neil Menzies and Sam Haldane bought the property two and half years ago and this month (September) finally had a development application with Kiama Council approved to create the brewpub, Black Beach Brewhouse.
“We’re calling it a ‘brewpub’ because of the zoning, we can’t wholesale any beer but there is going to be a brewery on site,” Sam said.
“All of the beer that we make is going to be sold on site, so retail only.
“It’ll be like a pub but with a brewery out the back.”
The premises will also feature a full restaurant, function space, beer garden, kids play area, and large bar with 20 different taps, including housemade beers, seltzers, South Coast brewery beers and soft drinks.
“It’ll be a bit different to your typical local pub – we’re trying to make it a bit more of a community hub,” he said.
“The whole place is split into two levels, so the main bar will be in one level and then down in the next level, near where the actual brewing tanks will be, will be a 100-seat, bookable function space that we’ll be able to split up into smaller sections if need be.
“We’re hoping people think of us for things like wedding receptions and parties.”
Sam said the business would create about 20 jobs for various skill levels, including brewing, packaging, canning, front of house, kitchen staff, chefs and security.
He had been looking for a site to start a brewery in Kiama for five and a half years after moving down from Sydney.
“Neil and I actually met through Andrew Prosser at Stoic Brewery in Gerringong,” he said.
“Neil went in there and said, ‘Hey, would you be interested in opening another venue in Kiama?’ to Andrew and Andrew said, ‘No, but I know someone who is.’”
Originally, the pair were looking at another property in town, off Hindmarsh Park, but the vehicle access meant it wasn’t viable.
That’s when they stumbled upon the current 35 Collins Street location.
“The whole building is an old Holden dealership,” he said.
“So behind the service station, where the convenience store shop is now, there’s about 700 square metres of workshop and warehouse space that’s just not being used at the moment.
“So it’ll be behind that, with a main entrance on Collins Street.”
The entrance and beer garden courtyard, currently part of House 2 Home homewares shop, will lead visitors through to the back, where the main bar, kitchen, brewery and restaurant will be.
While COVID-19 slowed progress on the project, he said now the DA was approved, they were working with an architect and designer to get construction drawings ready.
“We’ve still got a lot of work to do before we even start,” he said.
“We’re aiming for winter next year, so August next year, which I think is achievable.
“It would be great to open in the quieter periods, so by the time summer comes along we’ve got all our systems ready.”
Sam brings with him extensive brewing experience.
“My background is software development, but I’ve been a home brewer for a long time and actually had a beer company in Sydney for seven years,” he said of Shenanigans Brewing Company.
“We wound it up during COVID because it wasn’t feasible anymore. I was doing that on the side while I was doing software development.
“I actually work behind the bar at Stoic Brewery at the moment.”
He said Neil had a property at Jerrara, which they hoped to use to source beef from and possibly barley.
“In general, we really want to champion local produce and get most of our supplies locally, like sourcing some of the beef from Schottlanders Wagyu Farm,” he said.
“We just want to make it seasonal and fresh and changing all the time.
“We figure that’s what people, especially visitors, want – to come here and sample the local produce.
“I’d really like to have some nice seafood offerings as well.
“We’ve been talking about having a mobile oyster bar that we can wheel out on weekends and source some local oysters and seafood.
“There’s really nowhere in Kiama, apart from the fish and chip shops, that does really good seafood.”
The pair will be supported by their partners, Cate Menzies and Britt Jacobsen, who will also be involved in the project.