When the doors opened at Jervis Bay Brewing Co’s taphouse on December 20, 2019, excitement was through the roof about the potential of the Sapphire Coast’s newest brewery. Little did anyone know that the upcoming twelve months would bring unprecedented disasters, both locally and globally.
A mere nine days after the venue first welcomed patrons, the entire town was evacuated as bushfires swept much of the country. A few months later, the region was locked down again due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Speaking with co-owner Christian Wood as they celebrate making it through a turbulent first year intact, he says there are positives to be found, including the manner in which they've connected with the community.
“It wasn’t a great start if I’m being honest,” he says. “However, it wasn’t all bad.
"Once we could return, it gave us an opportunity to really connect with our local community. They were the first ones to get in and see what we were doing... I feel as though it gave them a sense of ownership, which is what we wanted.
“When you’re called Jervis Bay Brewing Co, you want the Jervis Bay community to feel at home at your venue.”
As for the brewery's origins, the idea arose innocuously enough: through conversation between four people, standing around watching their kids play soccer. It didn't take long, however, for Christian, along with Paul Walker (pictured at top of article), Ben Hutchings and Oshín Sweeney, to get serious about the idea, with each bringing their own unique experience into the fold.
“The four of us didn’t even really know each other,” Christian says with a laugh, adding he couldn’t have asked for a better team with which to work. “We were sort of just friends of friends, our kids played soccer together so we would chat here and there.
“Once we realised the idea was there, we all jumped at it. I think we were really lucky that our business values were so similar. We are all very aligned in terms of what we want surrounding things like sustainability and community engagement.”
Thus, as well as bringing local beer to their home, they set out to create a family-friendly, community-orientated environment at their venue, one designed to be welcoming for locals and tourists alike. It's one that's hosted regular charity days and fundraising efforts in support of community causes.
“We tried our best to make the taproom as visitor friendly as possible,” he says. “Whether that be by installing a playground for kids or having areas for dogs, we want people to feel comfortable here.”
He adds: “We’re proud of where we come from and the beauty of the area. We know there is a responsibility associated with trading under this name. Not only in terms of producing beer the region can be proud of, but also giving back to a community that has given us so much.”
Looking forward to what's next for the brewery, Christian says that, given everything their first year threw at them, they're going to focus on the here and now.
“With the bushfires last summer and COVID-19 immediately after, we’re doing well to think about next week let alone ten years from now.
“We’re optimistic, though. We’re about to double our production capacity and have just hired another brewer so we can crank out more delicious beer.”