Entrepreneur's beverage dream takes flight

Published 6:00am 2 March 2024

Entrepreneur's beverage dream takes flight
Words by Ashleigh Howarth

A Moreton Bay entrepreneur who left his job in Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic to launch his own brewing company has achieved his dream with help from the team at Innovate Moreton Bay.

With a desire to start his own company, Gary Hagen made the bold move and ventured into the world of twisted sodas and founded Ibis Brewing Company – a name inspired by the noble ibis.

Brewed in Brendale, his signature line of twisted sodas - named Bin Juice - features native Australian flavours, with half the sugar of regular softdrink, and is free from artificial sweeteners – making it a healthy non-alcoholic alternative.

The road to launching Bin Juice, however, was not an easy feat for the 39-year-old from Caboolture.

Amid global challenges caused by the pandemic, hotel quarantine, exploding bottles and the quest for a suitable brewing location, Gary faced numerous setbacks which meant he had to pivot from his original concept of kombucha to the innovative twisted soda he sells today.

Reflecting on his unusual career transition, Gary says his regular work day is vastly different to when he was sitting behind a desk every day.

“My background is in finance; however, I now sell drinks out of a wheelie bin standing next to a three-foot metal ibis at the markets,” Gary says.

“It really is a dream come true.”

The idea for Bin Juice originated during the pandemic in Canada when Gary, exploring non-alcoholic alternatives, dreamt of creating something similar in Australia.

Taking a leap of faith, he quit his job, faced travel challenges, and used the pandemic-induced delays to strike a unique deal with a beverage producer in Calgary, exchanging his financial expertise for brewing knowledge.

Returning to Australia in mid-2021, Gary encountered challenges in purchasing equipment due to pandemic-related disruptions.

Despite the hurdles, by mid-2022, the business was operational, but brewing kombucha wasn't the ultimate direction Gary envisioned.

Faced with costly and time-consuming challenges, he gave himself until the end of June 2022 to find a solution.

The turning point for Ibis Brewing Co came when Gary attended a Techstars Startup Weekend hosted by the supportive team from Innovate Moreton Bay in mid-June, leading to transformative meetings and a complete reformulation of the product with the guidance of industry experts.

Moreton Bay City Council has partnered with Moreton Bay Region Industry and Tourism (MBRIT) to provide specialist innovation and growth services to foster the region’s entrepreneurial spirit, under the Innovate Moreton Bay program.

Supporting the region’s start-ups, scale-ups and providing access to resources enables locals, including our youth, to prosper and build the capability to compete successfully in global markets.

Today, Gary collaborates with the team at Pinnacle Beverages in Brendale to brew Bin Juice.

The journey has resulted in the successful launch of the first flavour, strawberry lemonade and finger lime, in late 2023, with the next flavour - blueberry ginger and strawberry gum – debuting this month. 

Bin Juice is available at various locations across Moreton Bay and the Sunshine Coast, as well as at markets, events, festivals, and online.

Stay up-to-date by following Ibis Brewing Co on Facebook and Instagram

Entrepreneur's beverage dream takes flight

Paying homage to an Aussie icon

When it came to choosing a name for his company, Gary says he wanted something that would stick out in people’s minds.

“The ibis is such an inspirational Aussie icon; the ibis will never give up. No matter what it takes, the ibis will survive and thrive in our modern society while growing in numbers and strength. I think we could all learn a lot from this modern-day warrior,” Gary says.

"The name Bin Juice is designed to stick in your memory, naturally arousing curiosity!"

About Techstars

Techstars Startup Weekend Moreton Bay is proudly brought to you by Moreton Bay City Council and delivered by Innovate Moreton Bay.

The Techstars Startup Weekend is part of a suite of innovative programs being delivered via Innovate Moreton Bay, as part of Council’s commitment to the Regional Economic Development Strategy (REDS) which includes the objective of becoming a top 10 regional innovation hub.

For more information about Council’s innovation programs, visit the website


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