More than a century ago, butter factories were built across country Victoria to ensure that milk could be processed as near to the cows as possible. In Alexandra, the town's factory was built on the train line to help get that butter to the wider population and, while neither that factory or the train line are still operational, they've both been put to good use.
The tracks have been pulled out and now form part of the Great Victorian Rail Trail, while the butter factory is now home to On Point Brewery. Founders Chris Turner and James Smith bought the site in 2020 and have been welcoming people inside their historic home since the end of 2022.
“The building is beautiful,” Chris says. “They built them all on the old railways with all the dairy running back to Melbourne.”
It also turned out to be the perfect place to build a brewery, with the expansive footprint – it’s about 30 by 30 metres – and high ceilings giving them room to brew and grow when the time comes.
Given you have to drive past the old butter factory to get to Lake Eildon, Chris says they always knew they could capture the attention of tourists as they opened during summer. Located just two hours from Melbourne, Alexandra is a town that doesn't need a long weekend or school holidays to fill with tourists; according to Chris it's tough get a park most weekends.
Yet it’s the locals who first made a beeline to the new brewery – and it wasn’t just to try the On Point beers or their pizza. After the butter factory ceased production, the building became home to school clothes making as well as Nylex before, more recently, becoming a machinery workshop.
“Everyone in the town has ties to it,” Chris says. “Whether their parents worked there, or they worked here or whatever. And because it was a private business beforehand, they all wanted to come in and see it, which happened as soon as we opened.”
Beyond local drinkers, Chris says nearby pubs and bottleshops have embraced On Point too, with their beers appearing from Kinglake to Mount Buller.
“There’s so much opportunity for us in the local area as a local beer,” he says.
Currently, they have more plans for the space too: a more full-scale kitchen operational by summer and an increased capacity from 50 to 250.
To find out more about On Point, James joined us to tell us about the brewery, their dogs and their town for the latest in our Who Brews...? Series.
On Point Brewery
Who are you?
Chris and James, two best mates since high school. We have always had a pipe dream of starting a brewery and it all of a sudden became a reality!
James, head brewer, has been brewing since his university days and spent three years working at 2 Brothers Brewery in Moorabbin straight out of uni. After that, he spent ten years in the civil construction industry before finally deciding he needed to get out and follow his dream.
Chris, a long-time craft beer fan, jumped at the chance to start a brewery after 15 years in the IT industry. Although Chris doesn’t have any brewing experience, he has plenty of drinking experience which has come in handy for customer relations!
Renee, James' wife, is our current social media guru. Renee has worked tirelessly on our social media presence and has built a strong following, which has really helped to get our name out there.
Where do you brew?
Our brewery and taproom are located in the old butter factory in Alexandra, the gateway to Victoria’s High Country.
A charming but vibrant town nestled between Lake Eildon and the picturesque Goulburn River, Alexandra is just under two hours from Melbourne on the way to Mansfield.
In 2020, we purchased the old butter factory, a beautiful 120-year-old building stacked with history. In April 2022, we installed a ten hectolitre brewhouse and opened the doors to our taproom in December 2022.
Why do you brew?
Because I love it! I started brewing cheap “kit & kilos” to save some money while in uni, where I also managed to get a weekend job at the local homebrew store. From there I fell in love with all aspects of brewing and the craft beer scene.
Was there a beer or a moment that set you on the path to becoming a brewer?
The first partially mashed beer I made, an American brown ale, was the first time I realised I could make beer as good or better than what I could buy at the shops.
What’s the inspiration behind the brewery name?
Myself and Chris both have pointer dogs, I have a Hungarian Vizsla (Victor) and Chris has a German Short-Haired Pointer puppy (Pepper). Our logo was actually created from an image of Victor we gave to our graphic designer.
We also think our beers are pretty On Point as well!
What beer in your lineup best represents you and why?
I would have to go with our Red IPA; its original name was going to be Redgate IPA as a nod to the original name of the town of Alexandra. It was the first beer we brewed, has developed a bit of a cult following in the town, and it also the first keg we sold – to the local pub, who still have it on as a permanent tap today.
If anyone drops in on brew day, what are they most likely to hear blasting from the speakers?
We like to mix it up and play a different genre each time, classic country one day, reggae the next. It all gets a spin here.
What beers are in your fridge right now?
Usually the low-filled bottles from the latest bottling run!
What would be your desert island beer of choice?
Fuller’s London Pride was the first beer I had outside the world of commercial pilsners and opened my eyes to what beer could be. It is still a favourite and always will be.
Which local beers have blown your mind in recent weeks?
I’ve had a few beers from the Strathbogie Brewing Company recently. They not only grow their own hops but barley as well, which is malted on-site.
Some of the malt flavours they have coming through are unlike anything I have tried before.
Is there a particular style, ingredient, or trend in beer you'd like to explore further?
We’ve been looking into craft lagers more recently, particularly some of the Oktoberfest styles.
We hope to be putting a few on soon.
Where can people find your beers?
Outside of the taproom, most of the local pubs and bottleshops around Alexandra stock our beers.
Where do you hope your brewery will be ten years from now?
We hope to eventually be the major tourist attraction in the region. But as long as we’re still enjoying brewing and people are still enjoying our beers we’ll be happy!
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