August 29 2012 by Crafty Pint
Bright Brewery has always enjoyed one of the most pleasant locations of all breweries in Australia. To one side, the Ovens River flows – perfect for a cooling dip in the hot summer months – while in pretty much every direction there are tree-covered mountains to entertain your gaze. Across the road is Simone’s, one of the High Country’s leading restaurants, while weekends would often find local musicians serenading visitors in the beer garden.
There was a drawback, however: space was not their forte with an indoor seating area little bigger than a matchbox. If the temperature dropped to Alpine lows or the rain came whipping through, there were about eight seats inside for everyone to fight over, while the brewhouse tanks, bar, tiny kitchen and offices were packed in like the proverbial sardines.
So perhaps it’s not surprising that anyone passing through Bright along the Great Alpine Road in recent weeks will have spied lengths of metal rising from the earth as a million dollar-plus expansion gets underway. Aided in part by government grants, the work, which is due for completion by mid-December, will see the brewery’s footprint treble and allow them – and their punters – room to breathe.
“We want to be ready for summer,” says co-owner Scott Brandon. “It’s a pretty tall order, but we’re ahead of schedule. It’s amazing how fast it all happens.
“[The work] is pretty significant – we’re pulling out all the stops. With something like this, you have to bite the bullet and just go, ‘Right, there’s no point delaying – we may as well just get everything done up front’.”
Once the new building is in place, the brewhouse and vessels will be moved and there may be a couple more tanks added. There will be more space for drinking too, both inside and outside under cover, although the main aim is to be able to increase production: they’re investing in a bottling line to improve their bottled product and intend to get more packaged beer out.
“We reached the point where we needed to do this a year or two ago, but it takes a while to get the ball rolling,” says Scott. “It had become so difficult to work in that environment, especially since [head brewer] Jon [Seltin] has been here full time. He spends half his day just moving things around so he can get things done!”
Jon’s reward is some time off while the extension is built. Having filled every container possible with beer to get Bright through the construction period, he’s currently in Mongolia. Whether he’s on the hunt for inspiration to add to the roster of eye-catching beers he’s designed since joining the brewery – the MIA IPA, Stubborn Russian and IRA to name three highlights – is debatable. But with Australian brewers having plundered ideas from Europe and the States, who’s to say there’s no room for a Victorian take on the Chinggis Mongolian Lager, with locally harvested Topaz hops, of course…
Bright’s bar will remain open during the building works.
Image at top is a render of how the new brewery will look from the street.