When Blizzard Brewery celebrates their third birthday over the Easter long weekend – the busiest weekend by a distance for the "highest brewery in Australia" – there are likely to be mixed feelings for founder Mark Hubbard.
After experiencing some serious health issues and approaching retirement age, the 60-year-old says he's decided to sell the business so he can spend more time with his family in Melbourne. It means this birthday is likely to be his last at the helm of the brewery he opened in Dinner Plain, in the Victorian High Country, in 2016, inspired by his experiences growing up in Colorado, where trips to the ski fields would be combined with visiting local breweries.
Although they're heading into their busy winter season, he says the challenges of being the sole owner have also contributed to his decision.
“That’s proven hard for me," he says of building Blizzard's presence outside their local region, "because you can have those relationships in your own area but it’s been difficult for me to keep those up further afield.”
To date, Blizzard has run as a taproom where more than half of their beers are sold, although there is room to install a kitchen and turn it into a fully-fledged brewpub, something Mark had put on the backburner while he focused on developing the venue and getting beers into retailers across the state.
“My learning curve to run a brewery was steep enough to not learn to run a restaurant at the same time,” he says.
As for his hopes for Blizzard's future, he says: “In many industries and with many small businesses, it’s often the second owner that can capitalise on what the first owner's done.
“Take a foundation from where all the hard work's done and they can just tweak things, capitalise on that, and just go.”