John began brewing with his friend Laurie Cahir in 1987. They soon migrated to all grain brewing and in the early days had plans of opening a brewery.
Commonsense prevailed and they pooled funds to open Southern Home Brewing in Edithvale in August 1990. They became, after ESB in Sydney, the second Australian home brewing business specializing in all grain.
The first meeting of Bayside Brewers Club was held in the back of the shop in late 1990.
In 1993, the Maidstone store was opened. John managed this store while Laurie ran Edithvale.
In 2000 a decision was made to split the business. Laurie sold the Edithvale shop while John changed the name of the Maidstone Store and retained the Wyeast distributorship and website (created by Dave Golding of Red Hill Brewery who was a customer at the time). Chris Schaefer was employed and Paul Rigby began running fortnightly all grain brewing demos.
At this time the growth of the hobby in the US made available a large range of new products. The growth of the US and Australian Craft Brewing industries began and this created a growth in interest in quality beer which has continued to this day. John and Chris developed their HERMS system and the range of products available dramatically increased.
In 2005, a move to a larger Warehouse in Yarraville allowed for further expansion. A liquor licence allowed us to sell a great range of quality commercial beers. We began production of our range of Fresh Wort Kits firstly at 3 Ravens then later at Mountain Goat Brewery.
Following 2 trips to the National Homebrewers Conference in the US, John gathered a group of like minded individuals together to organize the inaugural ANHC. Along with Chairman Andy Davison and co directors Mark Johnstone, Phil Yeung and a great team, 5 Conferences and numerous other dinners and events have been held greatly improving the profile and status of the hobby in Australia.
In 2010, Speidel in Germany invited us to distribute their innovative range of Braumeister products and so began a great relationship. We purchased a 500 litre unit and have taken on producing 900 litre fresh wort kits ourselves.
In 2015 we expanded into the warehouse next door. We increased the display area and area under pallet racking, moved the mill room and improved and increased the size of the brewing area adding a hot liquor tank.
Simon Haylock also joined the team in 2015 as Craft Brewing Consultant and layed the groundwork for our expansion into the supply of complete craft brewing systems. Based around the Braumeister 200 and 500 litre units, we can supply heat exchangers, tanks, oxygenation units, glycol systems, carbonation, keg washing and filling and counter pressure bottling systems.
In 2017 we introduced a range of all grain kits. We added a second 900 litre Speidel kettle to the brewery, renovated the lab, purchased a new forklift and increased the height of pallet racking to hold our ever increasing range of stock, updated signage at the front of the building and added a mural and a tap wall to the shop.
After 27 years in the industry we are very proud of the fact that we have put more money back into the hobby in terms of sponsorship of clubs, competitions and events than anyone. We know that we are not the cheapest and that allows us to employ knowledgeable and capable staff and to spend heaps and heaps of time just talking beer and brewing with our customers. We also know that we are far from perfect but to continue try to improve.
We are also proud that many customers, friends and employees have gone on to contribute to the Craft Brewing Industry including Brendan O’Sullivan, Sam Slaney, Dan Dainton, Simon Haylock, Ron Feruglio, Michael Leslie and many others. Other current and past staff Peter Lowndes, Bill Denmead, Rod Patterson, Geoff Hammond, Nik Dontschuck, Dan Walker, Daniel Thaine, Lachlan Wooden, Steve (Hendo) Henderson, Matt Collinson, Ben Soulsby, Joel Ellis, Tom Davis, Sam Poolton, Steve Volkman and Oscar Casley and have all made great contributions to the craft and to the business.
We have become quite a fixture in the Melbourne and Australian brewing scenes and plan to be around for a lot longer.