Auckland brewery Brothers Beer getting out of the bar and restaurant business to focus solely on beer and is selling its six venues.
Brothers has outgrown its production capacity at the Mt Eden venue in Akiraho Street and has already started contract brewing at Steam. It wants to get out of the pub-restaurant game to focus on the expansion of its brewery operations to meet demand in New Zealand and Australia.
There are six Brothers Beer and Juke Joint BBQ venues for sale, although one in New Lynn has yet to be developed. The others are the flagship venue at the City Works Depot, Mt Eden, Ōrākei, Onehunga and Birkenhead.
Founder and major shareholder Anthony Browne said the growth of the brewery side of the business was an unexpected upside from Covid, plus the purchase of a canning machine.
“We went into Covid with our beer largely distributed through our own pubs and some Auckland outfits. When the pubs had to close people said to me, “at least you’ll be selling heaps of beer through grocery’ and I was like ‘we’re not really in grocery’. So, we had to sell beer through new channels.”
Browne said the brewery also planned to phase out bottles while introducing cans, but the can sales took off so quickly it caused a rethink.
Brothers Beer now has a sales team of six throughout the country and Browne said the brand was in “1000 outlets throughout New Zealand and getting some good growth. People seem to be enjoying the beers.”
The growth means the brewery is struggling to keep up with production so selling the restaurants and bars will allow them to invest in the brewery operation.
The brewery is located in the Mt Eden venue and the brewery will remain part of Brothers Beer, with the bar and restaurant to be sold as separate business.
Browne started Brothers Beer with Andrew Larsen but bought him out six years ago and brought in some new shareholders.
Under the direction of brewer Brandon Nash, the beers have improved dramatically in the past few years. “Hand on heart I can say our beers are as good as any others out there,” Browne said.
The Brothers Beer venues are available individually or separately and the new owners can choose to keep the venues as they are —selling Brothers Beer and American BBQ food — or bring their own spin.
“Our primary objective is to find six or fewer passionate people who love beer, love Brothers and love barbecue and want to keep it going the way it is. But we’re not so far up ourselves that we think our model is right for everyone — people will have their own hopes and dreams.
“Of the enquiries we’ve had so far, it’s split 50-50 between people who want the Brothers Beer model and others who love the space and have their own concept.”
Brothers have a distributor in Fremantle, Western Australia, and have just sent their first export order to Better Beer Imports in Melbourne, the distributor that handles Epic, Hallertau, 8 Wired and Duncan’s.
Asked if the sale of the hospitality side meant Browne saw more upside in brewing than bars and restaurants, he said: “For us it was a case that we couldn’t keep doing both and we had choose one or the other. We didn’t want fall into being a jack of all trades and master of none. And personally, after 10 years I won’t be unhappy to just worry about a brewing and distribution business and let someone else do the restaurant side.”
According to Diamond Group Realty who are selling the businesses, the sites’ features include:
- Birkenhead, Rugby Rd, North Shore — once the original Hellaby’s butcher shop dating back to 1912. The 300-square metre venue is licensed to serve up to 110 customers with an impressive glasshouse and outdoor area in a upmarket neighbourhood It has an asking price of $180,000.
- Ōrākei, Ōrākei Bay Village — Once a gin distillery, now a upmarket hospitality hub. The 312-square metre venue has capacity to accommodate 140 customers. The venue features high-stud roof with vintage chandelier, and an impressive outdoor area. The site has both an on-premise, and off licence for alcohol takeaway sales, and is in close proximity to walking and public transport routes. It has an asking price of $500,000.
- Mt Eden, Akiraho St — a character-filled former leatherworking factory with exposed beams and concrete floors. Home to Brothers Brewery (which is not included in the sale), the Akiraho Street premises is a 500-square metre space with seating for up to 180 patrons. As the flagship of the brand, this location has plenty of vintage couches, beer served direct from giant tanks, a covered outdoor area and on-site parking. Right next to the nearly completed railway hub. It has an asking price of $990,000.
- City Works Depot — where it all began 10 years ago as one of the original homes of craft beer in Auckland. Previously council workshops and now a hip office, dining and retail precinct, this Brothers Beer venue is a 195-square metre venue with seating for up to 70 patrons. The business holds an on-premise and off-premise license for alcohol takeaway sales, and is in close proximity to the CBD and public transport. It has an asking price of $450,000.
- Onehunga – located within the suburb’s old post office building built in1902 in Onehunga Mall. The site comprises 340-square metres of food and beverage space capable of serving up to 100 patrons with a huge beer garden and play area. The property’s landlord has committed to developing the outdoor area. The property sits in close proximity to the train station and Auckland Airport. It has an asking price of $190,000.
- New Lynn – a greenfields site. The business has consented plans to develop a new 805-square metre new cidery, bar and restaurant in the West Auckland suburb of New Lynn – within the Portage Licensing Trust catchment area. This venue is set to follow the same layout of brewery and hospitality split as Beer Brother’s Mt Eden entity. It has an asking price: $150,000.
Diamond Group Realty’s Carolyn Hanson said the outlets are free houses with no supply arrangements to any one particular brewery.
“Pourage rights of course could be shared with other New Zealand craft beer brands – in what is the strongest performing segment of the beer market in New Zealand – or alternatively opened up to the mainstream beer brands.
“The range of venues that are home to Brothers Beer and Juke Joint restaurants encompasses the full gamut of styles and locations – from the CBD and the suburbs. From industrial ‘grunge’ through to a heritage character building.”
Hanson said the Brothers Beer and Juke Joint business portfolio for sale offered a ready-made scaled opportunity for an experienced food and beverage operator to increase its presence in the Auckland market — potentially enhancing any geographic spread which it may have in the city.
“The option to buy one or more of the Brothers Beer Juke Joint venues gives the flexibility of complimenting what may already be an existing profile – enabling efficiencies of scale to be brought into play, particularly in the craft brewing sector,” she said.