The CBCo story is one that can be neatly viewed in two parts – parts that are equally neatly centred on each coast of Australia. Part one began in the West, way back in 2004 when "craft beer" wasn't even a phrase used by those brewing it, while part two has at its heart this brewery and venue in Port Melbourne.
Starting at the beginning, it was in 2004 that the brewery opened their sleek brewpub in the heart of the Margaret River region. In those days, it was known as Colonial Brewing - a reference to the beer maker's decision to colonise the well-known wine region. Many have since joined them in the region in which Bootleg first led the way, yet few come close to that brewpub's ambitious scope.
If you're someone who appreciates good beer, you'll likely have called in when touring the region. Yet, aside from tucking into their typically traditionally minded ales at the Margaret River base, you'd have struggled to find their beers anywhere else unless you stumbled across one of a dozen or so venues in Melbourne, Perth or, most recently, Sydney with their beers on tap.
At least, that is, until we hit part two...
This part of the story began in earnest in 2016 after the brewing company took over what had previously been Matilda Bay's brewery in Port Melbourne, walking into a ready made brewery that would allow them to instantly increase production capacity significantly while also having a base to get beer fresher to the East Coast.
The brewery had already installed a canning line at its Margaret River home and started sending Draught (formerly Kolsch) and Small Ale into the world; with this second facility up and running, Colonial tins and tap heads began appearing with greater frequency across the East Coast too. Since taking over the eye-catching old warehouse, new tanks have been added alongside a much larger and faster canning line meaning, well, meaning more of everything beer wise.
They were able to launch their accessible core range that covers a wide mix of modern craft styles, as well as the cold-pressed Apple Cider Bertie, named with a nod to the Bertie Beetle lollies once made under the same roof. Augmenting the lineup are regular one-offs, their impressive Barrel Projects series and their annual Inquest releases which are always 10 percent-plus and dark.
The hospo side of the brewery in Port Melbourne sits toward the front of the building as well as lining the street outside and is a popular local haunt that has hosted live music, major sporting events and even the occasional Daft Punk tribute night.
As time has gone on and the CBCo expansion has continued, with the addition of a de-alc module for producing alcohol-free beers in 2023, the brewery's become one of Australia's largest independent breweries. With more capacity being added in WA too, a story that started out in Margaret River is now not only the tale of one impressive brewery but two, and shows no signs of slowing either.