Melbourne craft beer company Brewmanity will open a South Melbourne brewpub in early 2022 following a four-year search.
The multi-level venue on Tope Street, South Melbourne comprises a 12-hectolitre brewery and taproom on the ground floor, a first floor beer hall and a rooftop terrace with city skyline views.
This particular iteration may not have come about were it not for COVID-19, Brewmanity co-founder David Neitz told Drinks Adventures.
He said Brewmanity had almost committed to a different property in Prahran in early 2020 when the pandemic derailed its plans.
“We had to put everything in reverse and then we couldn’t get that particular property back on track,” he said.
Neitz and co-founder Jamie Fox were subsequently introduced to Sam Tresise of the Bells Hotel in South Melbourne, who also owns a vacant property adjacent to the pub.
Tresise will be Brewmanity’s landlord and has also come on board as a shareholder in the company, with Fox and Neitz maintaining a majority share.
“Part of the allure of joining forces with Sam is that he knows all about food and hospitality,” said Neitz.
“His role takes all that away from us and allows us to focus on what we want to do, which is make and sell really good beer.”
Brewing returns to South Melbourne
Tresise said Brewmanity’s arrival marks the return of brewing to the local precinct.
Prior to his acquisition of the Bells Hotel in 2013, the pub operated as a brewpub for more than 20 years under its previous owner, stalwart publican Billy Bell.
“Billy Bell was brewing beer in-house at Bells Hotel around the time Redback and the Geebung launched their brewpubs, but all of those guys were ahead of their time,” he said.
“While I’m a publican, not a brewer, I’ve always had a dream that one day we could bring brewing back to South Melbourne.”
Brewmanity’s higher cause
Ex-AFL player David Neitz founded Brewmanity with his friend, beer marketer Jamie Fox, in 2015.
“It was always in our mind that we wanted to create a beer company with a social conscience,” said Neitz.
But the idea was crystallised following the diagnosis of Neitz’s former coach at the Demons, Neale Daniher, with motor neurone disease.
“With Neale deciding to do some fundraising, that really expedited things for us,” said Neitz.
“We were not ready to start a beer company at that point in time, but we said, ‘look, let’s just do it’.”
Brewmanity to date has raised a little more than $250,000 for Fight MND through a variety of fundraising events and donating a portion of all revenue to the charity.
“We added a cost item to our P&L. For each litre of beer there’s a certain amount of money that goes across to Fight MND,” said Neitz.
“As we immersed ourselves in MND through Neale, we started to understand the enormity of the task.
“There is no cure, but through the work of Neale and Fight MND, they’re making inroads. They’re now able to do scientific testing that’s actually giving people hope.
“Having seen friends die of MND that I’ve formed relationships with through the foundation, you see the challenges and hardships of the families on that journey. It’s a particularly worthy cause.”
Craft beer a challenging arena for fundraising
Neitz acknowledges it can be hard enough for small brewers to turn a profit without the added pressure of allocating some of their earnings to charity.
“It is a difficult industry to start with,” he said. “You’ve got a couple of the biggest businesses in Australia at the top of the tree, who take out the majority share of the beer market, and then you’ve got 500 craft brewers slugging it out for the six or seven per cent that’s left over.”
But he and Fox are banking on conscious retailers and consumers to support their endeavours.
“We need to onboard ourselves with partners who appreciate what we do,” he says.
“From a price perspective, it makes it a little bit harder. But on the reverse side of that, we hope that people appreciate what we’re trying to do with our company.
“Hopefully they value that and are willing to pay a little bit extra for that, which makes it viable.”
Brewmanity South Melbourne opening 2022
Brewmanity co-founder Jamie Fox says Melbourne’s independent beer scene isn’t as well represented in the city’s south.
“We feel a real sense of excitement that we can play a role in introducing more and more people to independent beer,” he says.
“We have our eyes on a new head brewer that we will announce as we get closer to the launch date.
“We can’t wait to finally start releasing more one off and seasonal beers when the brewery is up and running.”
The Brewmanity team aim to open their doors to the public in February 2022.