If you brew it, they will come

Photo of Peta and Brennan Fielding from Burleigh Brewing Company

Case study: Burleigh Brewing Company

With careful business planning, research, and faith in their product, Peta and Brennan Fielding have taken Burleigh Brewing Company from local startup to local icon in just 6 years.

Starting out in 2007 as a husband and wife team - Brennan the brewmaster, and Peta the business operator - they now have a team of 20 employees making multi-award-winning beer.

In July 2013, they collected another accolade, winning the Telstra Queensland Business of the Year award.

They learned the ropes while running a brewery in Hawaii, but, despite this experience, starting a craft brewery in Burleigh Heads still involved significant financial and personal risk.

'It wasn't like one of us was going out and starting a business and we had another salary … our entire family was thrown into it. We've got 2 kids: it was our futures, their futures, everything. But that's a hell of a motivator,' Peta said.

There was no overnight success for Burleigh Brewing Company, with Brennan summing up the early days by saying 'I built it, and they didn't come'.

But his faith in what they were doing paid off after 4 years, when their beer started to gather demand.

'Instead of us going out and talking to people and trying to sell our beer, we - all of a sudden - had people calling us,' Brennan said.

Peta and Brennan attribute a large part of their success to the research and business planning they did prior to starting the business, saying it gave them the confidence to take on the risk of a new business.

As part of this, Brennan mapped out a 5-year production plan, which required a business premises that could grow with the business.

'I'm still so glad that we started out as big as we did, even though it took us a little while to grow into it, because you talk to other breweries around and they are selling their equipment, buying more equipment, going to another location.'

Since winning multiple gold and silver medals at the World Beer Championships and placing their products in restaurant chains such as Grill'd and bottle shops like Dan Murphy's, Burleigh Brewing Company finally got their beer into the very first pub they spoke to 6 years ago: the Burleigh Heads Hotel.

'It's my rock band theory: you have to go away to become famous. And you come back and everyone's like "Oh, you're from here? Yeah, we love you". You can be a bit too local when you first start,' Peta said.

Recently they were described in the local media as Burleigh's 'iconic brewery'.

Peta says when she read this she thought, 'Gosh, can you be iconic after 6 years?'

In the case of Burleigh Brewing Company, it turns out that indeed you can.

Peta and Brennan's business tips

  1. Know WHY you're doing what you're doing.
  2. From day one, respect your business like it's already a success.
  3. Put systems in place early to manage growth.
  4. Nurture your entire business - sales alone are not enough.
  5. Recognise your business' place in your local community.