beer business

Joining the club

Former Stone brewer Mitch Steele discusses a planned brew with Club Brewing

Former Stone brewer Mitch Steele discusses a planned brew with Club Brewing – which is a mix of a brewery and a beer club

A new brewery plans to make nothing but collaboration brews – and the only people who will be able to get them are members. Club Brewing Co  plans to send out a case of beer four times a year, each featuring a trio of beers made in collaboration with brewers from all over the world.

Club Brewing’s Chris Thomas explains the idea behind the concept and how it all works.


Where did the idea for Club Brewing Co come from?
Daniel Ryan, one of our founding members, had the idea floating around in his head for a while but it really grew legs when he brought it up with us over a beer tasting at Dennis Nowak’s place in Geelong. We were all sold from the get go and talked more and more as we tasted more and more! I had always sworn I’d never get into the industry but the idea seemed too good to ignore. Once we had a few breweries on board, like Fullers (UK), Beer Here (Denmark), Mitch Steele (US) we were pretty sure we were onto a good idea.

Do you see it as a beer club, a brewery, a subscription service or something else?
All of these things! We’re a club in that only members of Club Brewing Co can buy the beers – they’re not in bottle shops or bars anywhere. We’re a brewery in that we brew our own beer in conjunction with the breweries we collaborate with. We’re different from most other beer subscription or distribution services in that we make our own beer. This said, we are a subscription service in that our Club Brewing Co members subscribe to receive quarterly beer packs delivered to their home.

Was there a reason you chose this approach rather than just brewing beers yourself and selling them?
We just thought it was a different approach in a market where there are already so many other fantastic craft breweries. We have tried to keep our costs as low as possible by cutting out the middle man – the pub or bottle shop – and getting our beers directly to our members. There’s something exclusive about being in a club and given these beers won’t be available elsewhere if people want to taste these beers they’ll need to get on board.

Who does the brewing – is it the guest brewers on their own or do they work in conjunction with Club Brewing’s own brewers?
We will always be on board for brew day and the brewer we are collaborating with will be there wherever possible as well. Generally we’ll collaborate on the recipe via email and then come together on brew day, like we did with Mitch Steele. There will be times when the collaborating brewer is not able to be there on brew day, especially if they are on the other side of the world. That said, we will always try to tie in our brew days for when international brewers are in the country, as we did for our first collaboration with Mitch Steele. The New Zealand brewers we’re going to work with are really keen to come over for the brew day and be a hands-on part of the process and it will be the same with the local breweries.

How hard was it to get other brewers interested in something like this?
There are a lot of people in the brewing community who are pretty like-minded and really like working together to make great beer. Essentially we’ve extended the invite to some breweries and they have been keen to come together and collaborate. It’s been great hearing the enthusiasm from some of the breweries – John Keeling from Fullers (UK) and Andrew Childs from Behemoth (NZ) were both really excited by the concept, while Mitch Steele being the humble gentleman he is thanked us for the opportunity to collaborate and brew together!

Who gets to pick what you make?
It’s all collaborative with the brewer. Right now we’re working on a recipe with a Japanese brewery and we are spending quite a bit of time considering the style and how it will reference Japanese culture or where Japan is at right now in the craft beer scene. From there it’s working out a base recipe and then refining it. With Mitch Steele we had the recipe sorted well beforehand, but on brew day we still made minor changes – he always erred on the side of more hops!

How many beers do members get each quarter?
Twenty-four beers in each case – this is made up eight of each of the three different exclusive beers. So each pack has three different beer styles which are one-off collaborations with different breweries from around the world and at home. We will collaborate with two international breweries and one local brewery each pack.


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