Frustrated with the lack of innovation in the local tourism industry, Tim Martin looked west to the small town of Junee. Despite its small population of 6000, the town attracts crowds to its renowned Chocolate and Licorice Factory.
“I liked the way that the Factory offered visitors an awesome experience of dining, shopping and factory tours… you could go there and make a great day out.”
Tim wanted to bring something similar to Tumut. Nestled in the foothills of the Snowys, the town is a similar size to Junee. Despite the advantage of beautiful natural attractions such as the Tumut River, Tim saw a need: There was no one to service the visitors to these attractions.
It was on a camping trip, over a good home brew, that Tim and his mate Simon decided to make their dream a reality. They decreed that once home, they would use their savings to start a brewery in the back quarter of Simon’s mum’s shed.
Tim laughs as he recalls the time.
“Suddenly the fact that we didn’t have a million bucks, didn’t matter any more.”
As the saying goes, they believed they could, so they did. With their savings, hard work, and a whole lot of passion, they acquired their licence in 2014. They were now officially, the smallest micro-brewery in the Southern Hemisphere.
Fast forward four years to the official opening of the brewery, now housed in what was a local tyre shop. After a string of disappointments, including a leasehold that fell through, the two were finally able to throw open the bar on the weekend of the Ciderfest in May 2018.
The weekend was a big success. “We got absolutely smashed.” Tim said. “That gave us confidence, heading into the winter season.
The first year was not without it’s challenges. The new brewery, still creating its reputation, was hit with a another blow during the 2018 summer heatwave, which wiped out their stock pile of beer.
“And then our delivery van blew up” Tim says, with a rueful smile, Aussie Battler style.
But despite the challenges, the team are using their passion and creativity to take the brewery to the next level. This year, as their reputation starts to widen, Tumut River brews are finding their way in BWS stores across the Riverina. Canberra is also in the brewery’s sights.
Today, their range has over eight signature brews, including the award winning Ginger Ninja. But they aren’t settling down yet. Simon and Tim both use their creativity to design new seasonal brews – a recent project being the Peaches and Cream brew, which Tim engineered the recipe for himself. (It’s a desert brew, he explains.)
The brewery has a two-way relationship with the local community. In fact, with out the help of local tradies, the brewery may not have even managed to open. It was the tradies who agreed to renovate the old tyre shop, so that Simon and Tim could through open the bar for the 2018 Ciderfest.
The brewery makes a point of using local produce as a way of supporting the community. Their brew is made from Riverina grain, and they serve local delicacies in their kitchen. Employing local staff, is another way the brewery gives back. It’s a point that Tim is quietly proud of.
“Every one who works here, just loves their job. It’s a really nice place to be.”
Although the brewery is still young, and faces the battles all small businesses face, the outlook is bright. With a few recently gained awards, a supportive community, and a ton of passion, Simon and Tim aim to take the Tumut River Brewing Co to new heights in 2019!