When Broadsheet visits the under-construction Uraidla Brewery, we follow co-owner Julie Peter through a maze of power tools and drop-sheets to a room full of her antique-shop buys. She’s a self-confessed tinkerer.
With her Swiss-born husband Ed, she’s renovated four houses across four countries. Early last year the Stirling-based couple took ownership of the Uraidla Hotel, giving the “man’s pub” its now-defining eclectic charm. They also have stakes in The Crafers Hotel and the Stanley Bridge Tavern.
The Uraidla came as a package deal with the more than 400-square-metre building next door. It was once a squash centre with two adjoining shops. Now, the walls connecting the three spaces have been demolished to make way for a brewery, bakery and cafe under one roof. It was always part of the plan.
Expected to seat around 50, the space will be decked out with a “’60s retro, eclectic but industrial” feel: a mix of old and new. The squash courts’ parquetry was ripped up to reveal an original concrete floor peppered with stones. Sleek, sky-high windows that face the hotel, work alongside repurposed corrugated-iron sheeting.
The same kind of windows separates the cafe from the brewery. Once the brewing tanks and equipment arrive from China and the US, you’ll be able to watch the brewers at work while sipping one of their beers. The former squash mezzanine will also be a vantage point.
Head brewer Oscar Matthews has previously brewed for Pirate Life. The Crafers Hotel’s venue manager, Greg Ryan, will have a mainly operational role in the brewery.
“We don’t want to polarise people,” Ryan says. The core styles will be an approachable bunch: pale ale, IPA and a dark beer. There’s also talk of a collaborative wine barrel-aged beer.
The hope is to “always have a brewer or someone with knowledge available for a chat,” says Ryan. On top of a strong wholesale focus, the brewery will offer tasting paddles and takeaway growlers.
Its outdoor area will be redone to connect with that of the hotel. “I always wanted to make it a community hotel … with lots of different places to sit,” says Peter. Conceptually, it’s been compared to Sydney’s The Grounds of Alexandria.
Head baker James Katsarelias will “come up the hill” from Malvern’s Nettle & Knead to run the commercial-sized bakery. “It’ll supply at least 10 hotels, as well as be a bakery outlet itself,” Peter says. She promises an assortment of breads, pastries and tarts.
The cafe’s offerings will be mainly “ready to go”: paninis, pies, sausage rolls and sweets from the bakery. “We don’t want to undermine the hotel,” says Peter, which will remain the go-to for a la carte meals.
“We’re very aware [the coffee] needs to be spot on from the outset,” says Peter. She’s hosting a “taste off” before locking in a roaster.
The bakery and cafe is expected to open in late October. It’ll operate from 7am to 4pm. The brewery will start operation by the end of the year.