Victorian craft brewer with 30-year history collapses as COVID-19 takes a toll

Southern Bay Brewing XPA can

Source: Facebook

The liquidator of a Victorian craft brewery that collapsed into liquidation this week says there is already some interest in the business’ assets from potential buyers. 

Southern Bay Brewing had already largely stopped trading when Pitcher Partners director Michael Basedow was appointed as liquidator to the business on October 25. 

Basedow, who is based in Adelaide, tells SmartCompany he is aware of several parties who may be interested in purchasing the brewery’s assets, which have been used for contract brewing as well as making the company’s signature ales. 

Part of the first wave of craft brewers in Australia, Southern Bay Brewing has been operating from the regional city of Geelong for more than 30 years and was previously known as Geelong Brewing Co. 

According to Brew News, the business is solely owned by Nick Warming, who was also previously the company’s chief executive until 2019. 

The business made a range of beers, including a lager, XPA and IPA, as well as seasonal and limited releases.

But the COVID-19 pandemic compounded existing challenges at the business, including staff changes, says Basedow. 

“The reasons given by the directors for the appointment include the significant downturn in sales as a result of COVID-19, the recent loss of key employees, including the head brewer, and the significant unfunded costs to upgrade ageing plant,” he says. 

Basedow says the Pitcher Partner team is still in the process of collecting information about how many creditors the business has and how much they are owed. 

The business had four employees when it entered liquidation; however, Basedow says three of those employees had resigned previously. The Southern Bay Brewing online store is not currently operating. 

According to the Southern Bay Brewing website, the business, and its plant and equipment, have “deep roots” in the history of the Geelong region, and the company was “born out of fierce independence from the brewing big guns”. 

“The original equipment was procured from a large corporate brewer’s redundant equipment and re-purposed to suit,” the website says. 

“The historic Corio Distillery provided the 75-year-old cedar-lined lauter run that still operates today.”

SmartCompany has contacted Southern Bay Brewing Co for further comment.

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