Great Ocean Road Brewing Expand Into Former Sou'West Site In Torquay

June 19, 2024, by Will Ziebell

Great Ocean Road Brewing Expand Into Former Sou'West Site In Torquay

Great Ocean Road Brewing are taking over the former home of Sou’West Brewery in Torquay, with the intention of making it their flagship site in coming months.

Sou’West Brewery entered administration, closing their doors without warning in the middle of last month. Their administrators immediately began searching for a buyer for the brewery’s equipment as well as the lease on the space, which is when fellow Surf Coast operation Great Ocean Road Brewing stepped in.

The business launched in South Geelong in 2021 after taking over Cockies Beer, whose beers remain part of the brewery’s lineup.

Matt Shortal, who founded the brewery with wife Lesley and close friends Mick and Renae Ranger, says: “For us, it was just a great opportunity.

“It’s a brand new fit-out and quite elaborate, while they’ve also got an almost brand new brewing kit."

The team had always wanted a home closer to the major tourist attraction after which they’re named and Torquay is considered the start of the Great Ocean Road: one of Australia’s most scenic drives and the world’s longest war memorial.

“It was always part of the plan to get ourselves located at a very prominent position on the Great Ocean Road and to pick up a venue at the very start of it is perfect,” Matt says.

“It was just an opportunity we had to take up. It’s not the easiest time in the brewing and hospitality industry but we'll be working pretty hard to engage the local community and travellers to come in and enjoy the Great Ocean Road beers.”

 

The two families behind Great Ocean Road Brewing: Renae Ranger, Lesley Shortal, Matt Shortal and Mick Ranger.

 

Sou’West only opened their doors to the public in 2021; the brewery’s ownership was made up of a large group of investors, including several AFL players. The brewpub is located inside the former headquarters of Quicksilver, and represents a significant step up for the new owners, who plan to continue opening their venue in South Geelong on Fridays.

Their new home can accommodate close to 400 people and has a full commercial kitchen, with this acquisition ensuring Torquay will continue to host three distinct breweries; Bells Beach Brewing is located across the road and Blackman’s Brewery's original home is a short drive away closer to the town centre.

Matt says the town continues to grow quickly, with tourism also attracting a steady stream of people all year round. And, while Sou’West's plans didn’t work out, his understanding is that patronage within the venue was good.

“Getting numbers through the venues is going to be key but that didn’t seem to be Sou'West's biggest challenge,” he adds. “They had quite good revenue on the books; it’s probably the cost that we want to control a bit better to make sure that the business is profitable or sustainable.”

The move also allows Great Ocean Road Brewing to expand their capacity considerably, increasing from around 150,000 litres per year to 500,000 litres. To grow, the founders wanted to build a greater hospitality presence alongside wholesale trade.

“Wholesale is tough and the margins are lean,” Matt says, “but it is an important part of brand development and exposure.

“I think you've got to continue to build your brand and make it as famous as it can be. And I think that starts within the area.”


Great Ocean Road Brewing hope to launch in Torquay in September. Their new home is at 27 Baines Crescent.

If you enjoy The Crafty Pint, you can become a supporter of our independent journalism.

You can make a donation or sign up for our beer club, The Crafty Cabal, and gain access to exclusive events, giveaways and special deals.

WA Beer & Brewing Conference 2024 2
Gypsy Hub
Bintani- Updated Behind The Brew- E
Cryer E