Rocky Ridge Buy Thunder Road

May 31, 2024, by Will Ziebell

Rocky Ridge Buy Thunder Road

The good beer news continues to flow from WA with Rocky Ridge Brewing taking ownership of Thunder Road Brewing in Melbourne as of today.

The deal means the Margaret River-based brewery will have a new home in Brunswick East in the coming weeks, while also substantially increasing their production capacity. As well as acquiring the brewery and venue, Rocky Ridge are taking on Thunder Road's brand and identity and will continue to brew some of their best-known beers. 

Rocky Ridge co-founder Hamish Coates told The Crafty Pint the decision comes on the back of continued demand for their beer on the East Coast and was driven by their continued quest to brew more sustainable beer.

“It's part of our ethos to remove that distribution footprint from our supply chain,” he says.

“It has never felt right shipping beers across [the Nullarbor], but we do see that there is a demand here for some of the products we're making, not just sales through Redwood Distribution, but also through online.”

The deal came together quickly too: Thunder Road was only listed for sale in February, with Hamish and his team soon realising it suited their needs regarding both production and hospitality.

“When we came in here to have a look, it was immediately obvious this was a good fit for us," he says. "It’s the right size production facility and it has a venue here as well, so we’ve got the ability to go direct to consumer – and the location is fantastic.”

Indeed, for an inner-city brewery, Thunder Road boasted impressive capacity courtesy of a 30-hectolitre system and significant tank farm, one Hamish says will allow them to brew at least two million litres per year on site.

Having taken over the keys earlier today (May 31), the plan is to start brewing soon, install a canning line, and reimagine the venue that should open to the public in late July.

 

Given Hamish is frequently referred to as Hammer, perhaps today's sale was meant to happen...

 

The sale also means the Thunder Road production team will keep their jobs and continue to brew some of the beers they’ve long been responsible for, including Thunder Road's flagship Brunswick Bitter.

“The plan is to keep a couple of the Thunder Road brands alive and to honour that legacy,” Hamish says.

As for Rocky Ridge’s beer, they’ll be brewing a number of core range beers to remove the need to ship them across the country while also inviting local customers’ palates to help shape the beers coming from Rocky Ridge Brunswick.

“We will be guided by what the East Coast wants, that’s part of our limited release mentality," he says. "We always want to see what works.”

Much like their home in WA's South West, the plan is to brew as sustainably as possible.

“First and foremost, we have to check the footprint and understand exactly what’s happening here in terms of energy usage, raw materials and waste,” Hamish says. “That will be a six to 12-month project, but we’re still aiming to be net zero emissions producers.”

The news is the latest in a run of positive moves in WA. The team behind The Dutch Trading Co open their new venue, Fallow, in Northbridge today. Feral have returned to independence thanks to Beerfarm and Nail. And FOUND. are set to move into the former Golden West brewpub in Subiaco. Rocky Ridge are also working on a new taphouse in Duncraig, in Perth's north, that's set to open this coming summer.

This all comes at a time when the craft beer industry continues to deal with significant challenges which saw Thunder Road's former near-neighbours Temple Brewing close their doors earlier this month. Indeed, not a week has passed in months without a brewing company or beer-friendly hospo venue closing or entering voluntary administration, so Rocky Ridge hope to inject some excitement into the beer world as we enter winter. 

As such, we'd best leave the final word to Hamish, Mel and their team.  

"We recognise that many industries, including ours, have recently faced numerous hardships, from supply chain disruptions to rising costs; however, we hope that this acquisition brings a breath of fresh air and renewed vigour whilst underscoring our commitment to innovation, quality, and sustainability."


All being well, Rocky Ridge Brunswick will open to the public in late July.

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