Brisbane’s newest brewery opens its doors today and its origin story is both familiar and unique.
Other than the stainless steel and beer flowing from the taps at Future Magic, that sense of familiarity can be found in story of how the brewery came to be: Sean Astill and Rhys Pike are mates who had long wanted to open a brewery together.
“We got introduced by somebody saying, ‘You guys need to start a brewery together’,” Sean says. “That was our very first meeting and here we are several years later.”
Before becoming Future Magic's head brewer, Sean had been brewing at Ballistic for several years, while Rhys' focus is on the design and brand elements of the business. The new outfit joins the likes of Black Hops Brisbane and Easy Times in the East Brisbane area, with Sean saying they share a close friendship with their neighbours.
“Some of the first people in have been the Easy Times and Black Hops crew,” he says.
The taproom has room for close to 200 guests on the ground level, with further space outside and a mezzanine level on the way. Accompanying the drinks from a dozen taps, punters can choose from a range of woodfired pizzas.
The entire build has taken them a little less than a year, and while any new brewery owner wants to get their doors open as quickly as possible, the pair had more reason than most to ensure they moved fast: the side of their story that is the reason for the "unique" in our opening line.
Future Magic’s arrival in the local beer industry saw them equity crowdfund in August last year. By the time their successful campaign closed, 230 individuals had provided funds to get the brewery up and running, giving them added impetus to get the doors open as quickly as possible.
“It takes a lot of trust to invest in a business” Sean says, “and we owe it to investors to show that we're being responsible with that investment, and doing things as quickly and as efficiently as possible.”
Although some Future Magic beers could be found in Brisbane venues ahead of and during the crowdfunding process, Sean says they’re the first brewery to launch a campaign at such an early stage in the life of a beer business. Their decision to do so was less driven by the capital-raising potential (although the final amount of nearly $300,000 certainly helped) and was more about building a community.
“We did it for cultural reasons, rather than to just get capital,” he says.
“We wanted the brewery to embody a sense of community. For Rhys and myself, that’s something the craft beer has to its absolute core. So we thought, 'What better way to make sure people know you’re part of the community than to give part of yourself to the community?'”
The support they received told the founders they have at least a couple of hundred people who believe in what they're doing. And although the first phase will see them building a local presence through their taproom, they plan to expand their production capacity and ultimately have eyes on national distribution.
"We want to keep growing and getting good Future Magic beer into more people's hands," Sean says. "But we'll only do so when we can do it smartly."
Although not every crowdfunding campaign in the beer industry here or overseas has worked out – Bucket Boys is no longer operational in NSW, for example, after selling to Batch; in the UK, Wild Beer Co's collapse and sale left many crowdfunders disappointed – Sean is bullish about the future of the capital-raising tool.
Given the support provided by Birchal during the campaign, and how much you can learn throughout the process, he thinks other breweries should look to do it as early as they did too.
“I believe that every brewery should go through at least the preparation for a crowdfund,” he says. “Especially new breweries because of the amount of work that you have to do. They're not an easy task: to convince people that your vision is their vision and something worth investing in.
“You get a jumpstart on a really quick crash course in about two or three months.”
Future Magic Brewing Co is open from midday on January 27 at 32 Manilla Street, East Brisbane. You can find it and hundreds of other good beer businesses on the free Crafty Pint app.