Here’s an inspirational tale of blood sweat and ale. How two Aussie mates, in a little town called Tumut, turned their after work passion of home brewing beer, into Australia’s latest craft beer success story!
Every step of the way their sales efforts were supported by Great Engineering label applicators. When they first started selling beer, Tim and Simon bought a BenchMATE and later graduated to our top of the range BenchMAX.
The idea for the Tumut River Brewing Co first took shape in a corrugated iron shed out the back of an independent tyre shop in a tiny little Australian town called Tumut. The Tumut River Brewing Co slogan is “Because two mates wanted to make great beer…” and you couldn’t meet a more enthusiastic pair of down to earth Aussies than Tim and Simon.
Their tale of blood sweat and ale is an inspirational story of how two mates shared a boutique brewing dream; turned it into a slogan, and made that slogan the fastest growing business in Tumut.
“It all started one weekend back in 2014 after a long meandering motorbike ride through the Snowy River Country, when we stumbled across a small microbrewery”, said Tim. “The beer was great, and I got chatty with the owners, who were happy and seemed to be making a go of it, and at that moment, my ideas about making beer for a living went from being pure fantasy, to a genuine ambition.”
So, one night over a few home brews, in the corrugated iron shed at the back of Simon’s Tyre shop, Tim shared his dream with Simon. Simon was totally inspired, and before he knew it, he’d offered Tim a job at the tyre shop so they could spend more of their down time together, plotting and scheming about how to start their own craft brewing company.
Big dreams in Back Shed + Simon & Tim working in the Tyre Shop
“Looking back, one of the smartest things we did at the start was to start small, said Simon. Tim chimed in with a wry grin, “In those very early days we’d keep saying to ourselves, there must be a way we can make this work… there must be a way we can make this work… and lo and behold, what we found was that once you’ve had enough home brews, there always seemed to be a way!” We all laughed.
The boys legendary Mircro-brewery had a capacity of just 150 litres, i.e. 3 Kegs
The result of these early dreams and the decision to just make a start, was the birth of the smallest Micro Brewery in Australia. The Tumut River Brewing Co’s humble beginning was a roller door in the back of Simon’s tyre shop, that opened to a beer tasting bar, set up in front of their brewing kit.
“When we started, we only had a brewing capacity of 150 litres, that’s 3 kegs of beer, and that brew would take 2-3 weeks, depending on the batch” said Simon. “We’d print our labels in as small a batch as possible and hand crank labels on a little BenchMATE hand label applicator. This small low cost set up meant the boys could experiment with new brews, and serve up their latest creations in ‘back of the tyre shop’ beer tastings they’d advertise locally.
Fast forward 5 years and their humble beer tasting window has grown into a business that’s not only consumed the tyre shop, it’s transformed it into a fully renovated craft brewery bar and restaurant. The Tumut River Brewing Co facility now runs a bar, restaurant, café and music venue, and adds tremendously to the culture and amenity of Tumut, even becoming a tourist destination for keen craft beer fans.
Fast forward 5 yrs – The view through the tyre shop V’s the same view today, through the Bar & Restaurant
The brewery itself is now an innovative backdrop for the a live music stage, & the TRBC now hosts live bands every weekend!
Asking the boys to reflect back on key moments in their journey, they were quick to point out that a big turning point in their business came when they were able to start printing and applying labels for their beers, whenever they wanted to.
How & Why Has The Capacity to Print & Apply Labels Made Such a Huge Difference?
Tim explains “As craft brewers, when you are starting out, a really big impediment to releasing a new brew is having to go through all the rigmarole involved in getting your beer sold. Every new beer needs to be named, bottled, have a label designed, printed, and applied to bottles, so it’s ready to buy. Making the decision to back a new beer always comes with inherent risk, because until you know how the public responds to it, you aren’t sure if you’re going to stick to the name, the label or even the line.
Before we got the capacity to print and apply labels ourselves, we’d have to commit to printing 10,000 labels up front, just to try a beer out, which meant we’d have to be prepared to invest in 10,000 stubbies, before we even knew if the beer was going to be good enough to release.
If for some reason we backed the wrong beer, we’d then have to push through all the stock we’d bottled before we deleted the losing line, or simply write the beer off and lose money on the excess labels.” That tied up a lot of capital and exposed us to potential loss, and it also slowed the business down. Now we just carry 20,000 blank labels and using the Epson printer, we can print any run of any number of labels, for any beer we make, at any time we need them. It’s a total revolution!”
At this point Simon chips in, “Anyone looking to get into the craft beer business needs to realise that the challenge of inventing, labelling, testing and trialling beers never stops. Ultimately your success depends on developing winning lines of beer, that can attract and win loyalty in the wider market. Even today we are inventing at least one new beer a month and it’s why the capacity to print and label stubbies on demand really changed our business. It’s taken the risk out of trialling new beers commercially”
Tim adds “The day I first saw the Great Engineering BenchMax bottle labeller integrated with an Epson Printer, I instantly realised that all the inherent risks associated with trialling and selling a new beer had been eliminated. Suddenly developing new lines was far less risky and far more affordable. We can now make and name a brew, design a label for it and have it ready to sell in just a couple of days.”
“The impact this has made to our research, development and testing is magic. Before it was difficult and risky to start testing and selling new brews, now it’s very easy, with almost zero set up costs for us to brand, market and sell a new beer.
“Trial marketing new beers is cheaper than ever thanks to Great Engineering & Epson”
This capacity has allowed us to identify brews that connect with the public rapidly, and has propelled the business forward faster, because we get to identify winners and losers quickly, before we have to commit to a major production investment.”
The economic short run label development capacity has also helped the boys develop a custom labelling business where they can make short run brews for things like charities, weddings, fundraisers, corporate anniversaries and special events.
“The capacity to be agile and responsive in our production has helped and changed our business in so many ways, and a great example of this happened last Christmas, when the Great Engineering labeller & Epson printer saved our bacon.” said Tim.
“Just before Christmas one of our staff members told me we were down to one roll of labels on our most popular beer – the Ginga Ninga, which meant we only had 500 labels in stock.
Now with a beer as popular as this, we print our labels off site, in runs of 50,000 at a time. So, having only 500 labels just before Christmas was a potential disaster. Can you imagine having an “out of stock” sign on your most popular line in your most lucrative sales period, just because you were out of labels?”
“I immediately got on the phone to my print rep and placed an urgent order, paid the bill up front, and waited for the labels to arrive, post haste…. But the labels did not arrive!
I phoned my rep and said “where are the labels” and his voice went deadly quiet and he said, “I’m sorry mate, but somehow we seem to have lost them.”
“This is when our in-house print and labelling solution really saved the day! I simply set up the system to print and apply 10,000 labels, which meant we could fulfil our Christmas orders. Thanks to Epson and Great Engineering, we averted disaster and enjoyed our best Christmas sales ever.”
Below Simon celebrates their best Christmas sales ever in the Tumut River Brewing Co Bar “That was a close one – thanks Great Engineering & Epson – Cheers”
To find out more about the Tumut River Brewing Co. and their range of great craft beers, visit their website. To find out more about Great Engineering and their range of feature rich bottle labelling machines, which fully integrate with the Epson’s range of colour printers, click here.