LOCO Lager, Switchback Stout and Korumburra Kölsch.
The township of Korumburra could soon be producing its own unique brands of boutique beer if an expansive plan for the redevelopment of the historic local railway station gets the green light.
And it’s no idle concept.
As the would-be developers of a brewery business at the old Korumburra Railway Station explained to the South Gippsland Shire Council last week, the project is already some way down the track.
“We have joined up with this group (Korumburra Station Working Group) because we think South Gippsland has the ability to become the new Daylesford,” said brewery developer, Phil Dempster.
“And we’ve picked South Gippsland as the place to build a brewery.
“We’ve already built a new nano-brewery to trial our beers and we have three recipes that have proved successful. We think Korumburra is the place to be.
“It’s got the history and we think we can leverage off the joyful times in the town in the 1800s and last century with our marketing.”
He said the business would create local jobs and help turn Korumburra into a destination town, not just a transition town.
“We’d be looking to establish a small brewery at first, to start producing our own line of beer and we hope to be able to do this in Korumburra.”
Mr Dempster said that what he was looking for from the council was support in applying for all the relevant permits.
“Getting our licence up, meeting food handling requirements, and planning. It’s a transit zone at the moment so it doesn’t meet planning requirements at this stage.”
The boutique brewery was part of a pitch made by the Korumburra Station Working Group’s chair David Rasmus, for a re-purposing of the railway station as a reception centre and corporate training venue, also incorporating the brewery as its main commercial tenant.
“The Korumburra community wants to use this facility, not lose it and we believe this is the way to go,” Mr Rasmus told the council at a community briefing session last Wednesday morning.
Councillors greeted the idea as an “exciting project” but Cr Jeremy Rich injected a note of reality into the discussion.
“What about the heritage building costs? Do you have a business plan?” he asked.
“I like the idea of a brewery but you need drainage and all the things associated with the process. You’ll need to have it approved by Heritage Victoria but I do wish you success with the project.”
“VicTrack owns the building and we’ll be looking to get funding from VicTrack for major restoration works,” Mr Rasmus said, noting he had heard estimates of $50,000 to repair the magnificent pressed-metal ceiling alone.
“We are completing a nomination form for them (for future use of the railway station) and a complete business plan will be part of that,” he said.
Cr Andrew McEwen was effusive about the idea.
“It’s an exciting, potentially transformative project that would make Korumburra a destination town rather than a passing-through town,” he said, asking later about set up costs and potential employment.
“Craft breweries have about 25 per cent of the market in Australia and there are about 145 boutique breweries in Victoria.
“To give you an indication of how big it is though, there are over 5000 boutique breweries in America,” Mr Dempster said.
“We’d be looking at four jobs to start with and that would grow depending on our success but the brewery itself would have very little impact on the building itself. They’d just give us an area and we’d establish it there.”
Other local organisations have thrown their support behind the community-driven bid for the railway station with Jenni Keerie of Milpara House part of the group which presented at the council meeting.
The Korumburra Round Table and Korumburra Business Association are also supportive.
“It was a great presentation and an exciting project,” said Cr Alyson Skinner.