One of Moreton Bay’s first craft breweries has hit the market for only the second time in its 15-year history.
Owner George D’Ath is selling Clontarf’s Horny Wombat Brewery with the goal of taking on new challenges, and says he’s loved being in the business of spreading happiness for the past four years.
“People come in happy and leave happier,” George laughs.
He says he knew he wanted to own Horny Wombat as soon as he discovered it was for sale.
“I was already an owner in a craft beer bar and I wanted to advance that to the next level by brewing my own.
“It was a good price and it seemed like a good lifestyle, which it absolutely has been, but I’ve got other things I want to do now.”
George says the business has evolved since he took over, and he’s enjoyed visiting other independent breweries to learn about their techniques.
“Our range of beer and type of beer we are creating has expanded greatly.
“We experiment quite a lot – it’s definitely an art form.
“The past 12 months I have been travelling and visiting too many breweries to remember and all of them have been quite inspiring.
“I did a hell of a lot of research (when I started) and I am constantly researching and speaking to other brewers. The industry is very open and friendly.
“In Canada they’re doing unbelievable stuff and 25 percent of the brewers are Australian.”
Leading the way
While smaller breweries are now producing lagers, George says that wasn’t the case four years ago.
“In theory we’re limited in what we can produce, but we’re proving that’s not the case, using the ingredients available and making them work extremely well.
“Grumpy’s lager is the reason I bought the business – no other brewers were willing to brew lager at the time because it takes longer and no-one wanted to devote the time, energy and skills to it.
“Now they’re all doing it and we have six or seven in our range.
“One of them’s a rice lager that we’ve managed to get up to 8 percent – it’s so light you don’t think it’s getting you and then it smacks you in the head – but we tone that down for sale,” he explains.
Range of flavours
As well as selling bottled beer, the Horny Wombat sells in bulk for consumption at home and supplies kegs for parties and brews for local businesses to sell on tap.
“We fill kegs for people to have at home, but I don’t want people sitting on a keg for a month ,so that’s why we also have the bottles.
“With our 19-litre kegs, the most expensive is $90, which is very reasonable.”
Along with a range of popular beers, the Horny Wombat produces ciders and other products.
“Drop Bear Lemon is easily my favourite – it was our Christmas beer last year.
“Commercially made hard lemonades are laced with vodka or gin or with flavouring that leaves a dry aftertaste, but ours is brewed naturally so you don’t have that bitter aftertaste.”
Dedication to the craft
So who would the business suit?
George says shooting the breeze with customers – a large percentage of whom are visitors to the region – is great fun, but concedes the real work is behind the scenes producing the brews.
“It’ll suit somebody who’s very particular and into process and accuracy and a little bit OCD – that’s important for consistency.
“Ideally, they’d be like the last owners, who were a husband and wife. Part of the sales contract was that they stay on and teach us for a month – they ended up staying for two.”
George says while he has plans for his future, he understands the life of a brewer is not for everyone and he’s willing to wait for the right people to come along.
“I’m selling through private sale and I have my price, which is very fair and I’m in no hurry.”
The Horny Wombat Brewery is at 1/345 Macdonnell Rd, Clontarf. Click here to find out more.
Find details about buying the brewery, with training included in the sale price, here.
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