Nail And Beerfarm Buy Feral And Their Brewery From Coke

May 21, 2024, by Guy Southern

Nail And Beerfarm Buy Feral And Their Brewery From Coke

There's been another big move – or should that be moves? – in WA beer today with the announcement that Feral Brewing and their production facility have been sold by CCEP (Coca-Cola Europacific Partners) to Nail Brewing and Beerfarm.

Beerfarm are taking full ownership of Feral's production setup in Bassendean in what they're describing as "a watershed moment" for the Margaret River-based brewing company that will allow them to triple beer volume. At the same time, Nail and a consortium of investors will become joint partners in Feral Brewing Co, taking ownership of the brand and Feral's employees. 

Feral's brewery will be used to brew Beerfarm and Nail beers as well as maintaining Feral's current production needs. Beerfarm's original brewery in Metricup will continue to produce a core range of products, with the acquisition designed to "enable further innovation to pioneer new craft beer (and beyond beer) products".

The move also sees Feral return to independence almost seven years after the trailblazing brewing company was sold to what was then CCA (Coca-Cola Amatil).

Beerfarm founder and director Ian Atkins told The Crafty Pint: "It's a good fun story, and when you look at the press daily it can be doom and gloom. This is us confirming that the rumours are true, and now the real work begins.

"We’ve been working with the guys for a long time now and this a progression because we haven’t been able to make enough beer in the South West. We need more capacity.

"We’re trying to grow in New South Wales – I’ve got kit lying in a paddock in New South Wales and the red tape and bureaucracy is tying us up. This came up and it allows us all to grow."

 

The bar at Beerfarm's spiritual home in Metricup, in WA's South West.

 

He said the South East Asia market, including Singapore and Malaysia, was also a key growth region for Beerfarm, and described the acquisition as a "full circle moment": Feral's Hop Hog was the beer that first enticed him into the beer game.

"We’ve got a cracking team, we’ve got great beer and we’ve got to be nimble in the market," Ian added. "Putting these two teams together is exciting. And it’s led by passion."

Nail head brewer and owner John Stallwood told The Crafty Pint he had an "exciting challenge ahead", adding that, while he might be biased: "It's the best story we've had in beer in a long time".

"It's tough times in the industry, so it's surprising to get an opportunity like this," John says. "The plan at the moment is to get the production facility up to full steam."

John and Ian met with the Feral team today, outlining their plans and providing clarity on their future after what's been an uncertain time for the brand.

"It's good to be able to say we're working together now. We can talk about getting Feral pumping again," John said of the discussions, adding: "Hop Hog was one of Australia's greatest beers and we want to make it one of the greatest again."

 

Nail founder John Stallwood (left) and Feral co-founder Brendan Varis at BrewCorp's Bassendean brewery for a Crafty Cabal event in 2016.

 

The move by Beerfarm and Nail continues a period of upheaval in the west, coming just days after Bailey Brewing Co confirmed they had acquired Clancy's in Dunsborough and in the same month we revealed FOUND. have taken over the former Golden West brewpub site in Subiaco after the latter entered administration. Late last year, Cheeky Monkey acquired the former site of Sound Brewing in Rockingham from administrators, which followed a merger between Otherside Brewing and Nowhereman in August.

The sale of Feral, meanwhile, is the latest chapter in the story of a brewery that helped change the face of beer in Australia. The first Feral beers appeared in 2002 and, over the ensuing years, the Swan Valley-based operation was turning heads with beers like Hop Hog – for many a first fresh, local taste of an American-style IPA and a multiple winner of the AIBA Champion Australian Beer – as well as Razorback barleywine, War Hog West Coast IPA, Boris imperial stout, and a series of sours, including Watermelon Warhead, which helped popularise such beers in Australia.

In 2012, Feral's then-owner Brendan Varis and long-term mate John launched Brewcorp, opening a 50-hectolitre production facility in Bassendean. They moved to a larger facility nearby in 2016, at which point Feral acquired a larger share of the joint venture that reflected their greater production. 

The following year, around the same time as the beer that would replace Hop Hog as their flagship, Biggie Juice, first started making waves, Nail sold their remaining 25 percent in Brewcorp, which was purchased with Feral by CCA. Despite continuing growth, the soft drink giant announced in late 2021 that it would be exiting the alcohol sector to focus on its core business.  

This coincided with the closure of Feral’s original Baskerville brewpub after 19 years, with the site since relaunched as the Baskerville Tavern and home of Slumdog Brewing by Feral co-founder Al Carragher. Rumours surrounding Feral's sale have persisted since, building to a crescendo ahead of today's sale.

 

Some of the Beerfarm team with their award for WA Good Food Guide Beer Of The Year 2024, with this article's author in the middle.

 

The new owner of the Bassendean facility, Beerfarm, was founded in 2015 in Metricup. The brewery shares a site with one of the country's biggest and most colourful brewpubs, regularly home to large events and gigs, and known to many for the slip and slide that brings joy to kids big and small over the warmer months.

They've collected numerous accolades for their beers over the years, including WA Good Food Guide Beer of the Year 2024 for their IPL and a top ten GABS Hottest 100 placing for Royal Haze. In December last year, they announced a number of senior hires as they eyed up expansion on the east coast, stating that construction of a long-mooted brewery on NSW's Central Coast would commence in 2024.

For keen followers of craft beer in Australia, Nail require little introduction. Founded in 2000, John's story is one of Australia’s most unique and compelling, which we told in detail as the brewing company turned 20, since when Nail have acquired Billabong Brewery in Myaree. 

As John and his partners set out on their mission to return Hop Hop to its former glories, it's fair to say this latest entry into Nail's two-decades-plus, serpentine existence only adds to the brewing company's "triumph over adversity" theme – and association with award-winning beer. Or, as he says of his career in beer to date: "It's a strange loop, isn't it?"

This latest loop has brought him back into contact with Brendan too, although John says the former Feral owner is not part of the new ownership consortium. That said, Brendan has been advising him in recent months – "He's my mentor." – and John hopes to tap into his vast brewing knowledge again as the new team embarks on Feral's rebuild.

Upon announcing the sale, CCEP Australia's managing director, Orlando Rodriguez, said in a statement: We are proud of the performance of the Feral business and the journey we have been on with our brand, customers and suppliers. Our sensational Feral team has been integral to the Feral experience and brand, and a huge contributor to its overall track record of performance. We are proud of everything they have achieved and are excited by what the future holds for Feral under new ownership.”

Completion of the transaction is expected in mid-June, with a full transition over the next three to six months.


NB This is an updated version of the original article after we were able to speak to John Stallwood.


Statement by Beerfarm: West Australian craft beer set to further grow with Beerfarm purchase of Feral Brewing Co. production assets

**Beerfarm to take full ownership of Feral’s production facilities to triple its beer volume as part of national growth strategy**

**Nail Brewing and a consortium of investors to be joint partners in Feral Brewery Co.**

**Beerfarm and Feral Brewing Co. to continue as two independent brewers** 

West Australian independent craft brewery, Beerfarm, today announced it has entered into a Binding Agreement for the purchase of Coca-Cola Europacific Partners’ (CCEP) equity stake in Feral Brewing’s Bassendean production facilities. 

In addition and to support the continuation of the Feral brand, a consortium of investors and Nail Brewing have separately undertaken a joint purchase of Feral Brewing Co. from CCEP. As a result, Feral Brewing will continue to operate as an independent and standalone brand. 

The purchase will see Feral Brewing’s production facilities being used to produce Beerfarm’s current range of products, along with maintaining Feral’s current production needs. 

The acquisition will enable Beerfarm to more than triple its volume in line with its growth ambitions including boosting its national and international presence in the craft brewing industry, through better meeting the supply demands of Australia’s larger liquor distributors. 

Beerfarm’s current Metricup brewing facilities will continue to produce a core range of products but will also enable further innovation to pioneer new craft beer (and beyond beer) products. 

Commenting on the Feral acquisition and growth ambitions for Beerfarm, Founder and Director, Ian Atkins said: “This is a watershed moment for Beerfarm. Feral’s Bassendean production facilities are in fantastic condition which means we will continue to produce the same quality of independent craft beer – just substantially more. This means more Australians can get to enjoy this West Australian export, so there’s a lot to raise a glass to here as we progress taking our beers from our farm to more parts of the country.”

Nail Brewing, Head Brewer and Owner, John Stallwood adds: “Nail Brewing has had close unity with Feral for 12 years, with many of our beers being brewed in their Bassendean facility today. The quality and shelf life of their beer are produced at the highest level and have earned them many well-deserved accolades. We appreciate the opportunity to collaborate with the team and look forward to working on even more unique beers.” 

CCEP purchased the Feral business in 2018. All parties will work closely to ensure a smooth transition for their teams, customers, and suppliers. Completion of the transaction is expected in mid-June with a full transition over the next 3-6 months.


Statement by CCEP: CCEP Australia announces sale of Feral Brewing Company

CCEP Australia has today announced it has entered into a Binding Agreement for the sale of Feral Brewing Company.

The sale will see the ownership of the Feral brand and employees transfer to a joint venture comprising independent Western Australian brewery, Nail Brewing, and a consortium of investors (Joint Venture Partners). It will also involve fellow independent Western Australian brewery, Beerfarm, purchasing all of Feral’s assets to enable continued production of Feral products. 

Following a strategic review, the purchasers represented the right team to take Feral Brewing into its next exciting chapter. 

Coca-Cola Europacific Partners Australia Managing Director, Orlando Rodriguez, said: “As CCEP continues to align as a bottler of our brand partner, The Coca-Cola Company (TCCC), the sale of Feral Brewing Company will ensure Feral is ideally positioned for the next exciting phase of growth, while enabling us to focus on our core NARTD portfolio.

“The purchasers possess the attributes to deliver the necessary scale to achieve long-term sustainable growth for the Feral business, and just as importantly, to continue to invest in the development and growth of the Feral team,” added Mr Rodriguez.

Beerfarm and Nail Brewing are successful Western Australian independent breweries with a strong footprint in the WA brewing industry. Feral currently contract brews for both parties at Feral’s premises and the parties intend to continue to support and grow the Feral brand and production volumes, while maximising beer production at the existing Bassendean site in Western Australia.

CCEP purchased the Feral business in 2018. 

We are proud of the performance of the Feral business and the journey we have been on with our brand, customers and suppliers. Our sensational Feral team has been integral to the Feral experience and brand, and a huge contributor to its overall track record of performance. We are proud of everything they have achieved and are excited by what the future holds for Feral under new ownership,” said Mr Rodriguez.

Completion of the transaction is expected in June. CCEP will work closely with the new owner to ensure a smooth transition process for our people, customers, suppliers and for the Feral brand.

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