Brisbane-based Catchment Brewing Co. has purchased fellow Queenslander, Fortitude Brewing Co., vastly increasing the company’s production capacity.
Intriguingly, with this purchase, the smaller producer Catchment has acquired the larger Fortitude.
The acquisition includes Fortitude’s Mount Tamborine taphouse and brewery, which is capable of producing over 500,000 litres of beer per annum.
The Shout spoke to Matthew Newberry, Catchment Brewing CEO and major shareholder, about the purchase, his company’s motivations and what it means for the future of both brands.
When asked what first attracted Catchment to the purchase, Newberry said: “Most definitely the increase in capacity in the brewkits. It’s probably eight times bigger than our existing brewkit.”
“So it allows us to expand as we get more on-premise venues, that gives the platform to max out the production up at fortitude. It also allows me to stop contract brewing.”
In particular, the canning capabilities of the Fortitude site were highlighted by Newberry.
“Catchment is a fairly small brewkit, and the venue is not totally suitable for canning – we do do it at Catchment, but it’s a matter of packing down our restaurant and moving a mobile canning machine in and packing it all back up again. It’s just not overly practical,” Newberry said.
“Fortitude has a much bigger back of house footprint. So we’ll definitely be moving all of our canning to Fortitude, and concentrating on brewing kegs and mostly seasonal ranges of kegs at Catchment, because the tanks are a fair bit smaller.”
“We’ll concentrate on growing our core range of beers up at Fortitude, where we can do 5000 litre batches, instead of 1000 litre batches,” Newberry continued.
Fortitude Brewing was founded in 2012, and has a deep standard range, including a light beer ‘Fortitude Pacer’, alongside a Pale Ale, a Stout, a Golden Ale, a Lager and a Summer Ale. The brand is also well known for its seasonal beers, released under its ‘Noisy Minor’ Label, which includes Admiral Ackbar Red Ale, Anzus IPA and Bad Wolf, another IPA.
Newberry says there are currently no plans to significantly change the ranges of the breweries.
“The Roots and Leaves alcoholic ginger beer and mid-strength Pacer, we don’t have those in our portfolio so no changes there. [Fortitude have] a very strong seasonal range in Noisy Minor that we love, and it’s got a bit of a cult following – no changes there.”
As for existing ranging options, Newberry believes the deal will be mutually beneficial for both brands.
“We don’t currently have any Catchment brands ranged in Dan Murphy’s, so that gives us a pretty good platform, with [Fortitude’s] Pacer, and Roots and Leaves already in Dan Murphy’s.
“That’s significantly more volumes in the off-premise business, and it’s an attractive factor as part of the acquisition,” Newberry continued.
“We’ve also got a lot of Catchment brands in areas where there’s no Fortitude ranging, so you know, we’ve got ranging in Liquorland and BWS, in the craft bottle shops, that Fortitude doesn’t, so hopefully it allows us to broaden the Fortitude ranging as well.”
The Shout also asked Newberry how this purchase affected the company’s on-premise strategy, with Catchment having purchased Paddington, Brisbane venue Darling & Co, and planning to acquire ‘up to 10 more venues’.
“It essentially gives us more brands to sell into other hotels, so it accelerates our on-premise strategy. It broadens the scope of our brands ability to cut through into the on premise market.
“There are a lot of significantly distressed assets in the industry at the moment, so it just allows us the opportunity pick up pretty good quality assets, for not multimillion dollar purchase prices,” Newberry continues.
“Plus we’ve got a fantastic bunch of investors and shareholders. The on-premise strategy allows us to really accelerate our volume production with buying our own taps. So with Darling & Co, we’ve got 45 taps in that business, and 40 of those are now Catchment taps, and soon to be Fortitude taps. It’s very difficult to pick up 40 taps, so this certainly allows us to have a bigger tap footprint.”
Newberry saved his final word for the Australian on-premise, and highlighted the need for more craft beer on tap at venues, saying: “I encourage everyone to give local craft more space in your business.”