November 21, 2011 by Crafty Pint
Sweetwater is on the move. The microbrewery in the Victorian Alps has been based at the Annapurna Estate winery since opening in 2009, with the brewhouse located in one of the wine sheds and the bar nestled alongside the winery’s cellar door overlooking rows of vines. But now owner Peter Hull is upping sticks and moving a short distance down the hill to open his own venue in Mount Beauty.
“I want to take the brewery to the next step and be able to develop it with total control over the image and placement of the brewery,” he says. “The new site has very high visibility on the main road, directly opposite the Mount Beauty Accommodation Centre and with walking distance of plenty of accommodation and residences.”
Peter moved to the Alps for a tree change and by opening Sweetwater gave beer tourists a third destination in the High Country along with Bridge Road in Beechworth and Bright Brewery. Having established a foothold in the local market, with a presence at seasonal events and festivals, the plan is to open the Sweetwater venue first, then move the brewery onsite and add some new fermenters so he can expand capacity.
“The brand has grown good local traction, particularly with the winter Falls Creek trade,” says Peter. “It needs the increased presence and visibility that the new location will offer to build it further. The biggest thing we’re hoping for is a significant growth in on premise sales. The new venue will be comfortable in all weather conditions, making a year round on premises venue more feasible. The alfresco nature of the Annapurna setup meant that trade really suffered during a wet period like we had last summer.”
He says having his own Alpine beer hall style venue will also allow him to offer a wider range of beer-friendly food. On the beer front, he’s keen to push a new English style IPA and, once the new venture is running smoothly, look at introducing more limited releases.
Mount Beauty is in the Kiewa Valley, a short drive over the stunning Tawonga Gap from Bright (a pretty windy drive so travel sick people go prepared!) and about 40 minutes from the Falls Creek ski resort.