Mornington Peninsula-based Jetty Road Brewery are set to welcome punters to another popular tourist spot from next week as the brewery team opens a venue in Lorne. The space was previously home to Cuda Bar and is located on Mountjoy Parade, right in the heart of the town and complete with a beachfront beer garden and space for 150 people.
It gives the brewery, which is backed by the ASX-listed Mighty Craft (previously known as Founders First), a second home. Prior to COVID-19 striking, they had their sights set up an expansive brewpub in South Melbourne, but those plans have been shelves in favour of the Lorne taproom.
Jetty Road’s Blake Bowden says setting up on the Great Ocean Road is the realisation of something of dream for him and co-founder Grant Rogers. The pair have known each other since they were born and often holidayed in Lorne, both as young kids and into adulthood, during which time they got to know Cuda well.
“We’ve always said it would be a great place to have and it’s just serendipitous that the ducks lined up and we were able to snag it,” Blake says.
Compared to Torquay, and a growing number of other parts of the Surf Coast, Lorne’s a little lacking when it comes to breweries or craft beer-focused bars. Blake says opening the taproom in the town ticks a number of boxes for the team, including expanding the reach of their beers on that side of Melbourne, improving the craft beer options for locals and the visitors set to swarm the region over the warmer months, and the ability to create space for their brand without treading on the toes of the area’s other breweries.
“Lorne really plays into what our brand is and currently stands and it’s relatively a new market for us on that side,” he says. “We’ve been really well supported on the Mornington Peninsula but haven’t really had a chance to do that much on the other side.”
Blake says the venue will be recognisably Jetty Road while still retaining points of difference from their Dromana home, and though they are keen to open venues featuring their own brewhouses down the road, Lorne will be a venue only. The site was deemed too small to build a brewery, with the team confident they've got plenty of capacity at their production site to keep the taps filled.
“It’s too small a space for that but it’s right on the beach and was just too good an opportunity to introduce the brand over that side,” Blake says.
As for the decision not to move ahead in South Melbourne, Blake says the impact of COVID gave the team cause to revaluate future plans. The city site was an ambitious one, featuring the conversion of an expansive warehouse close to the South Melbourne Market into a multi-level brewpub and venue.
“[COVID] changed the focus a little bit,” he says. “Lorne was something that just with capital it was far easier to get up and out of the ground, and use it as a base to start building back up from where we’ve been left after COVID.”
Meanwhile, the wider Mighty Craft company has been busy over the last few months. As well as rebranding from Founders First, they opened the doors to The Mighty Moonee Ponds venue at the start of the month while also announcing plans to up investment in Brisbane’s Slipstream Brewery from 45 percent to 61 percent. That increase to a majority stake in the brewery was made through an investment of $1.5 million, which the company said would be used to launch a new brewpub onsite, expand capacity and invest in brand marketing and innovation.
Provided the next week goes according to plan, Jetty Road's new Lorne home will be open full swing from December 4. You can pop in at 82-84 Mountjoy Parade.
You can find also find the bar and hundreds of other good beer venues and breweries in the free Crafty Pint app.