Coastal Brewing Co., David & Helen Black

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It doesn’t matter what time of year it is … a great beer is always welcome! David and Helen Black have probably followed the dream many of us have – to turn a passion for a good brew into a profession. Coastal Brewing Co. is the first microbrewery in Forster … the Blacks had a plan, they’ve turned it into a reality – and the proof is in the tasting! See you at Coastal Brewing Co., where the beer is fresh and flavoursome!

Hi Helen. There’s a bit of an interesting story behind your new business, The Coastal Brewing Company! What led to David switching careers from being a chartered accountant to a brewer?

Prior to starting the microbrewery, David and I both enjoyed 20 years plus in the corporate world – so this is a big change for both of us. Essentially, David did what many keen home brewers dream about; he focused on turning his home brewing hobby into a business after completing the Certificate in Brewing from Federation University.

At the brewery, David looks after all things brewing, product development, packaging, cleaning and financial.

My background is in marketing and communications; largely, in the financial services sector. At the brewery I focus on the sales, distribution, marketing, branding and the communications aspects of running the business.

I also look after the Tasting Room, with the aim of making sure customers maximise their experience when they visit the brewery. We both enjoy talking to customers and taking them through the brewing process and talking about the specific ingredients that have gone into each beer.

Whilst our prior careers may seem a long way from what we are doing today at the brewery, we draw heavily on our prior experience all the time. Above all, we are extremely excited about the opportunity to build and grow a strong local business.

Tell us a bit about your set up at the brewery …

Having spent many weekends and holidays in the region, Forster was the location we chose to establish the brewery. As much as David and I wanted to establish a microbrewery, we felt Forster, equally, needed a brewery to complement its excellent bar and restaurant scene, as well as its iconic coastline.

We went into the brewery setup with a clear project plan, as a lot of the specialist equipment had long lead times. After purchasing the building in Dalman Street, Forster, the first thing we did was order the 1,200 litre brewhouse from the US.

We started the renovations of the building in January this year, which included new drainage systems, reinforced concrete flooring to hold the fermenters, extensive pipework and electrical work to manage temperature control, as well as a complete fit out for the brewery Tasting Room. All this took place before the brewhouse arrived in April, and we commenced production in May.

Being as sustainably responsible as we can be is also important to us. In building the brewery, we have invested heavily in technology to support us in this endeavour. For example, we use pH adjustment equipment and above ground growth bioreactors to effectively treat our waste water before it goes back into the local sewer system.

Describe the beers you currently brew – your Pale Ale, Golden Ale, and IPA … What makes them special?

We are all about bringing locally produced, fresh, flavoursome beer to both residents and visitors to the Manning Valley/Great Lakes region.

We brew a range of ales and lagers using natural ingredients. Our customers in the Tasting Room and places where we are “on tap” include long time craft beer devotees, all the way through to those having a first taste of craft beer. With many beer styles and different palate preferences, we want to ensure there is something for everyone.

And we truly believe there is a beer style to suit everyone’s taste – people who “don’t like beer” just haven’t found the right one yet!

We plan to have a core range of beers, as well as seasonal specials to bring variety to customers. The first of our seasonal specials was the milk stout we recently launched.

What types of products/packaging are you able to offer to customers? 

All of our beers are available in our Tasting Room for tasting and for take-away sales. Customers can purchase a reusable “growler” (1.89 litres) or “squealer” (945 ml) from us, which is filled with fresh beer.

When customers bring back their growler or squealer for the next fill (after a thorough wash!) they save, as they aren’t paying for packaging.

Shortly, we will also start canning our beer, and these will be available for take-away from the Tasting Room and at participating bottleshops, bars and restaurants.

We also encourage people to keep an eye on our Facebook (coastalbrewing), Instagram (coastalbrewingco) and website (www.thecoastalbrewingcompany.com) for updates as to where our beers are on available.

What do you see as important to your future success?

It’s all about the customer experience, and at The Coastal Brewing Company we want customers to not only taste great, locally produced craft beer, but we want them to feel proud of their local brewery.

So for us, this means we can’t do enough listening to people’s feedback around our beers, what they would like to see in our future lineup of beers, and suggestions for restaurants and bars where they would like to see our beer on tap.

When is the brewery open to the public?

We currently open the Tasting Room on a Friday (2:30pm – 5:30pm) and Saturday (Noon – 4pm). As we move into spring and summer, we will open more often.

Apart from on site at the brewery, where else can we taste your brews locally?

We have had tremendous support from the Bellevue in Tuncurry and The Recky in Elizabeth Beach, as well as a number of bars in Newcastle and the Roundabout in Gloucester.

The availability of our beers on tap is growing, and it’s best customers check our website (www.thecoastalbrewingcompany.com) on a regular basis for local availability. If we aren’t available at people’s local, we encourage them to contact us – so we can try to remedy it!

Thanks Helen.

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