Council nod helps couple’s dream come true

Trent and Kylie (with an IPA beer and a ginger and apple cider) at their home brewing set up in Botanic Ridge. 252945_03 Photo: STEWART CHAMBERS

By Shelby Brooks

Smiley Brewing Company founders Trent and Kylie Butcher cracked open one of their beers on Monday night to celebrate their successful application to open a micro-brewery in Pakenham.

The husband and wife duo from Botanic Ridge had dreamed of opening a brewery for years and finally after 12 months of waiting, their wish came true at Cardinia Shire Council’s Town Planning Committee meeting.

“It was a feeling of finally things going our way. We’re very relieved,“ Mr Butcher said.

It wasn’t looking hopeful for them after being told in November that officers would recommend councillors vote to reject the application.

“I was surprised at the meeting at all the support we got from the councillors,“ Mr Butcher said.

Since November, Mr Butcher had reached out to councillors to share his vision of the venue and work through the hurdles raised in the original application.

He also presented councillors with evidence of successful breweries in industrial estates across Melbourne.

“Thankfully they’ve listened and took onboard what I’ve said to them. We’re not trying to do anything that hasn’t been done before in other areas,“ Mr Butcher said.

The Butcher’s took over the lease of the factory at 1/9 Southeast Boulevard Pakenham in March 2021 after a few roadblocks in their hunt for a space due to Covid-19.

“My wife grew up around Kooweerup and Pakenham, and I grew up in Langwarrin and we’re in Botanic Ridge now so we wanted somewhere in that area,” Mr Butcher said.

“The closest brewery to Pakenham is either Lang Lang or Warragul.”

Mr Butcher told the Gazette that opening a brewery had been a dream for a while.

“I started brewing in 2014 as a hobby but I’ve done more and more ever since,” he said.

“We thought we’d like to open a small brewery locally.”

The name came from their home street, Smiley Way.

“We live on Smiley Way and as a bit of a gag Christmas gift, my wife ordered Smiley Way Brewery bottle labels so when it came time to choose a name, we just dropped the ‘Way’,” Mr Butcher said.

The application proposes to change the use of the two storey building from an existing warehouse to a brewery and taproom offering food and drink services for up to 90 patrons.

Plans state beer brewing will operate 24 hours per day, seven days per week and is estimated to produce approximately 14,000 litres of beer per month.

During proposed hospitality trading hours, the brewing operation will be largely passive in nature (fermenting rather than bottling beer).

Mr Butcher also sees the possibility of craft beers tours at the venue for brewing lover.

Smiley Brewing will produce all types of beer, with a core range of four or five brews, Mr Butcher explained.

“We’ll have a rotation of beers, maybe half a dozen smaller batches. So locals can get to know our core range and come back for them, but also might want to try the new ones every few weeks,” he said.

“Craft beer drinkers tend to want to try new things all the time. We’ll have ciders and seltzers as well.”

As part of the business model, packaged liquor produced on-site will be sold directly for consumption off premises.

Trent said they plan to have a rotating roster of food trucks, rather than an in-house kitchen at this stage.

“We didn’t want to jump into an onsite kitchen so early on because of the costs associated and the complexity of running a kitchen,” Mr Butcher said.

“A lot of places tend to go for the food truck model. We’ve seen a lot of examples of it in Victoria, interstate and overseas.”

Mr Butcher said he envisions the taproom to be a great place for people of all ages to catch up.

“We want to create a space where people can come and hang out with each other, have a few beers while watching the AFL on a Friday night or a Sunday session with an acoustic artist,” he said.

The brewing duo are hoping the venue will be open within the next six to eight months, in time for Christmas.