The people of Launceston are set to welcome their first brewpub as Du Cane Brewery & Dining Hall opens its doors tomorrow. The brewery and taproom is located in the centre of the Northern Tasmanian city and features a 12-hectolitre brewhouse, eight taps, a full food offering and space for around 400 people.
“We’ve got a full kitchen and the centrepiece of that is a big woodfired pizza oven that we got in from Italy,” brewery founder Will Horan (above right) says.
He told The Crafty Pint they’ve been working on the space – which formerly housed a camping supply store – for the past year. Its opening comes close to four years after Will launched Du Cane, a brewing company with a focus on exploring the wilderness that's named after the Du Cane mountain range on the Overland trail (you can read more about Will’s background as a guide and brewer at Morrison Brewery here).
Will says the decision to open the brewpub followed a catchup with an old mate who many in the craft beer industry will know already. Sam Reid (above left) co-founded Willie Smith's and has been managing the cidery from Sydney for a number of years, and now joins Will as his business partner.
“Sam had just moved back to Launnie [or Lonnie depending on your preference] with his young family,” Will says. “He went, ‘There are no brewpubs in Launnie and I’m really keen on a new project, so what do you reckon? Why don’t you and I team up?'."
Launceston’s lack of brewery taprooms is somewhat unusual given the city's ties to craft beer runs deep; Morrison have been making beer in the city's north for close to a decade and Van Diemen launched on their farm to the south in 2009. Moreover, Hobart is home to a substantial number of breweries, while beer lovers heading to Launceston can also find much to enjoy at Saint John Craft Beer and Tandy’s Alehouse.
“The northwest has really been kicking off in the last couple of years too,” Will says “So you can’t really say that Launceston is too small and quiet.”
But, as he explains, their journey to find the right space for Du Cane took some time; after a few spots fell through, their prospects weren’t looking great.
“There are only so many places here, so we thought we’d run out of options,” Will says.
But the former home of Allgoods Tent City has turned out to be the perfect location for a brewery and venue, with the substantial old sawtooth building located on Elizabeth Street and overlooking Prince’s Square. The building’s owner also runs the hiking company Will used to work for, and although he was looking to develop the site into apartments, he liked the sound of what Will and Sam had in mind.
“It’s a big build for Launceston," Will says. "We were really lucky – it’s 1,500 square metres in total.”
And while they’re still a few weeks off brewing their first beer on their new kit, they'll continue canning their four core beers (and maybe one more to come) which will pour alongside a rotating roster of limited releases. Willie Smith’s will have a cider on tap, of course.
The suitability of the building’s former life as a camping store goes beyond its size and location; it ties in nicely to the active lifestyle Will has promoted through Du Cane. The connection to the wilderness runs throughout the venue too: there are handpainted maps of local hiking routes on the walls and they'll be selling passes to the state's parks at the brewpub.
As for the ambience, the aim was to make the industrial space feel really bright and airy, using a light colour palette to make the brewpub feel inclusive.
“We’ve really tried to push it as a family space,” he says. “It’s obviously a brewery, but we’ve put a lot of thought into the design of the kid’s corner with a climbing wall, astroturf and more colourful seating.”
So, while Du Cane’s inspiration comes from promoting Tasmania’s wilderness, you can’t help but feel their arrival in Launceston only gives visitors another reason to stay longer in the city too.
The Du Cane Brewery & Dining Hall is open from midday tomorrow (September 22) and is located at 64 Elizabeth Street, Launceston. You can find it and hundreds of other good beer venues in the free Crafty Pint app.