Six years on from launching in Torquay, Blackman’s Brewery have found a new home, with the family-owned operation opening a brewery in the Geelong suburb of Grovedale next year.
Renn Blackman, who runs the brewery with his wife Jess, says they’ve been searching for a second brewery for some time, having well and truly outgrown their 12 hectolitre brewhouse on Bell Street in Torquay.
“Pre-COVID we were looking at spots and then COVID happened and we went ‘Oh God’ and we pulled our noses in a bit,” he says.
“But then everything levelled out a bit and people kept on drinking lots of beer – which is great – and we managed to keep our heads above water.”
Last year, the brewery was declared Champion Small Brewery at the Australian International Beer Awards and Renn says brewing to keep up with demand while maintaining their busy schedule of limited releases has been a challenge.
“It’s been pretty crazy,” he says. “Ever since then, it’s been a pretty big blur and we’ve been pretty busy since then. It definitely opened us up to a lot of new customers, which is great.”
The Grovedale site is an 800m² warehouse and will include a 25 hectolitre brewhouse and space for a hundred people to enjoy Blackman’s award-winning beers. Renn says the suburb of Grovedale, which is towards the outskirts of Geelong, offered them the right combination of space for production and new neighbours ready to enjoy that beer nice and fresh.
“There’s lots of industry but then lots of people live there too,” he says. “We wanted somewhere that people could have a beer and where there’s still lots of potential; where people can experience craft beer firsthand.”
The new brewhouse will allow Blackman’s to make close to a million litres of beer a year and, while Renn says they could have opted for a larger kit, this expansion is already a substantial step up from their current output.
“We didn’t want to go too big for beer freshness,” he says. “It just means we’re always going to have fresh beer. If we went [50 hectolitre] then that’s a lot more beer coming out than we’re doing at the moment.”
The new Blackman’s arrives as the Surf Coast enjoys a beer boom when it comes to craft beer. Jetty Road are opening a taproom in Lorne next week while Sou’West Brewery is set to open in Torquay, where it will join Bells Beach Brewing and Blackman’s OG home in a beachside town where local breweries seem to be rivalling the number of surfwear stores.
For Blackman’s in Torquay, things are staying more or less the same, with the brewery now able to focus on smaller batch beers. The team also run the Blackman's Burger Bar nearby in Ocean Grove while, earlier in the year, they closed the Good Beer Bar in Geelong’s CBD.
As for the new site, Renn says that if all goes to plan they’ll be brewing there by January and letting people inside by March.
“We’ll be that place where you can come and have a beer and see all the action going on,” he says.
“It’ll be 14 taps and we’ll rotate all the seasonals and we’ll have lots of cool stuff on tap, so it’ll just be a fun place to come have a beer and hang out.”