Dave Macgill, formerly of Tasmania’s Moo Brew, is set to launch his latest venture, Deep South Brewing Co. this month.
Macgill left MooBrew last June after 14 years in the role as general manager and head brewer to commit to his new project.
“A couple of mates who own a venue in Hobart approached me two years ago saying they wanted to do it,” Macgill explained.
“I thought, yeah everyone wants to build a brewery, but they were actually serious about it.
“I felt my time at Moo was definitely done, and either I was out of the industry or into a different arm of the industry if I didn’t have this.”
However, it wasn’t plain sailing and an error on their new venue’s development application meant most of Tasmania knew about Macgill’s plans by the time he left Moo.
“We were doing Taste [of Tasmania] that year and by 30th December everyone knew!” Macgill explained.
Macgill is teaming up with friends Warwick Deveson and Ben de Rue for the venture, two veterans of the Hobart hospitality scene.
“They own the Tasmanian Inn, which is a cool little pub around the corner from where we are, so this is their second venture,” Macgill explained.
“Warwick has a business degree and runs front-of-house, and Ben is a chef. I definitely wouldn’t set up with a business partner that wasn’t a chef – trying to find a head chef is a bloody nightmare!”
The Deep South Brewing Co. venue, which is very near completion, is a 150-seat restaurant with a mezzanine level and a pizza oven shipped from Italy.
“We have a 45-bottle wine list, plus spirits and we’ll probably focus more on the premium gins and whiskeys and tequila and mezcal,” Macgill explained.
“We’ve got the full warehouse environment but the finishes are quite high-endish.
“You’ll look down onto the bar and there will be table service, it’s not quite a typical brewpub model, you can come in here and enjoy food and wine or whatever you might drink.”
The venue itself has a bit of an infamous history.
“It used to be a place called braaap Motorcycles, founded by a young successful entrepreneur, and the police rolled in one day and seized all his information and charged him with fraud.
“So I always knew of this building, it’s one street off the main drag of North Hobart, round the corner from T Bone Brewing and The Winston.
“We’d looked at a few buildings but none really appealed to us before this. We walked into this one and it had to happen, our investor wanted to buy the building anyway, and we wouldn’t have done what we did to it if he didn’t own it.”
Funding has been divided equally between the three founders and one outside investor.
“We’re lucky that we only have one investor and all have an equal share within the business, so we all have skin in the game.”
They secured the building by early 2020. It seemed a perfect fit for Deep South, and the development application proved to be less of challenge than finding the site in the first place.
“The development application was pretty easy, we were lucky that recently the council in Hobart have restricted the brewpub model to fit under the bar and hotel [category] as opposed to manufacturing which would rule you out of a lot of spots.
“We employed an engineering company, did sound audits and parking audits, a couple of RFIs, and it went through unopposed.”
To brew Deep South Brewing Co. beers, Macgill is brewing on a 12hL brewkit, which he hopes will tide them over for the next few years.
The six-vessel, 12hL kit has been built by Zhongru Machinery in China, which built gear for DME before the latter went into receivership in 2018 and were bought out, having worked for the likes of Balter and Mountain Goat.
“Now they’re doing their own thing. and we’ve had heaps of fun working with them to design the brewhouse,
“We haven’t focused heavily on automation side, but I needed it to be a one person show, to be able to do a double brew in a reasonable day myself.
“So that’s all in and commissioned and we have beers in tank right now.”
The opening lineup of beers have been inspired by topographical details of Tasmania: Breaksea Draught Lager, and Sharksjaw IPA, along with the Flat Witch XPA and its Pedra Pale ale.
“I was basically writing recipes while mashing in, I had them in my head, had the hops and rough IBU about how I wanted it to look once the grain was going in the mash, but we had zero pilot batches.
“Those are the four that we will open with and rotate some guest taps. I don’t really buy into just having all your own beers on when you go into a venue like that.”
But the plan at this stage is to remain a local brewery with local distribution.
“I tried to play in that space of sending beer off the island and there’s no serious benefit. People keep asking when we’re going to build a production facility, but we want to sell everything we can on-site and keep it Tassy-focused.”
Despite the experience of the team, building a brewery is hardly a stress-free process.
“There have been days where I feel like it was a selfish decision to make. I have a daughter who’s nearly 2 and obviously there are time constraints spending time here,” Macgill admitted.
“I can’t wait to say I will be home at 6 o’clock on Wednesday night, and make that work.
Macgill explained that despite the big move, he had no regrets and that was down to the Deep South team.
“I’ve been super lucky that the guys I work with have been awesome. I have never gone home and thought shit I’ve done the wrong thing,” he said.
“COVID has caused a lot of stress, though it’s lucky we weren’t open with the six-month restrictions on JobKeeper.
“But every time we get a new person in and they get excited about it, it gives you relief. You get a bit jaded when you sit so close to it for such a long time. Now we’re just super excited to get it open.”
With liquor licences due to come through very soon, Deep South brewing looks set to open before the end of May.
Brewery openings are presented by Spark Breweries and Distilleries, the finest in-venue and production brewing systems available, with local design and support.