It’s lucky that Joerris Noll likes beer.
But the operations manager for Tribe Breweries prefers something even more – building the plants to churn out the ‘golden ale.’
Right now he’s doing exactly that at South Goulburn where a quiet transformation is taking place within the former Coles Distribution Centre on the corner of Ducks Lane and Hume Street.
Inside the 20,000 square metre building, floors were cut up ahead of installation of large tanks, filling and packaging lines and all the infrastructure embracing the brewhouse, fermentation and filtration.
Drains have been dug beneath the floors and large water tanks installed outside as a firefighting resource.
More than 50 contractors are buzzing about the place in preparation for start-up early next year.
Handling the logistics is not an easy task but Mr Noll appears to be in his element.
“Every project is challenging,” he told The Post.
“There’s always something that doesn’t work in any project. The weather can be challenging, you find out the roof leaks or there’s a problem with gas supply access, but it’s always interesting.”
Mr Noll has been in the brewing industry for 20 years. He undertook his apprenticeship as a brewer in his native Germany and studied brewing science and beverage technology.
“With that degree I had the world open to me to work as a brewmaster or go into engineering, building and designing brewing plants,” he said.
He chose the latter and worked on projects in New Zealand, Denmark and Australia embracing the beer and dairy sectors.
Coincidentally, he studied brewing science with the brother of Anton Szpitalak, whose family was well known in the industry.
Mr Szpitalak engaged Mr Noll as project manager for the new Goulburn operation some three months ago.
“For me this is going back to my roots – back into the brewing business,” Mr Noll said.
“I’m quite excited because I’ve known the company since 2012 and the family even longer. Bringing my skills to them has been very interesting too.”
Stockade Brewco (now Tribe Breweries) won approval to build the plant from Goulburn Mulwaree Council in 2014. The development then was valued at $15 million. Now it’s estimated to be worth $30m.
The Szpitalak family had been operating their Smeaton Grange operation since 2012, after taking over an old brewery.
“Four years ago they could see the current site wasn’t large enough to cater for future growth so they purchased the building in Goulburn,” Mr Noll said.
But what started out as a relocation has turned into an expansion.
Design and processing of the necessary equipment started about 18 months ago and installation began in August. This will continue until December when the first part of commissioning will occur.
Mr Noll said this would be a “dry test,” followed by water testing early next year to flush out lines.
“We’ve had some delays but now we have a fixed timeline that we’re working to,” he said.
“In February we will probably brew our first saleable beer, which takes two weeks to get into cans or bottles. We feel safer every week (with the timeframe).”
The brewery is approved to churn out up to 30 million litres annually.
About 90 per cent of this will be beer, including Tribe’s own brands - Stockade, Mornington Peninsula and Wilde, which is gluten free. The company also has several joint venture arrangements. One is with Pabst, the largest craft brewer in the US. This beer will be brewed from Goulburn, along with another, Chao-Siam, which will be shipped to Thailand.
The facility will not only turn out canned and bottled products but 30 and 50 litre kegs.
It will also brew, fill and package for many other smaller operations that don’t have capacity to do so themselves. Tribe already does this in Smeaton Grange.
In addition, the plant will produce RTDs (ready to drink), soft drinks, juices and flavoured teas. This range could be expanded.
“I believe production will ramp up pretty fast because we appeal to clients who need big batches,” Mr Noll said.
“We could double (employee) numbers in the first year and eventually have a morning and afternoon shift. Our dream would be to operate 24/7.”
Mr Noll said employment would start with 10 to 12 in the first year and eventually reach about one hundred and fifty.
Like Smeaton Grange, it will train brewers but also employ forklift drivers, lab technicians, filling line operators, administration staff and more.
The head brewmaster from Smeaton Grange, like Mr Noll, is currently living in Goulburn, helping to oversee the set-up.
The company will make a further announcement on recruitment timing.
The Brewery expects to use 27.3 megalitres of water in its first year of operation.
Mr Noll said the company was aiming to cut the amount used per litre of beer.
The council in April granted a deferral and 50 per cent reduction on water and sewer fees, provided the company created 10 jobs annually or 30 over three years for locals.
A water treatment plant will be built to allow reuse and cleaner discharge into the sewer system.
Tribe’s community relations manager and former Goulburn Mulwaree Mayor Geoff Kettle said the Highland Source pipeline was a major drawcard for Tribe.
“If it hadn’t been built, the brewery wouldn’t have come here because they needed a ready supply of water and the council couldn’t have guaranteed that,” he said.
Originally the company planned to lease out half of the building but has abandoned the idea. Mr Kettle said the project scope had changed over four years to an expansion.
Aside from production, the company wants to incorporate a hospitality and education component.
“All the plans we originally had are still in the drawer. It just has to be planned properly,” Mr Noll said.
In time, the company plans to utilise solar panels on the vast roof space to offset energy costs. But for now, it is concentrating on getting the operation up and running.
Mr Noll has moved to Goulburn with his partner and said he loved the city.
“Goulburn has beautiful buildings and lovely people. It’s such a friendly town and when it comes to infrastructure, it has it all,” he said.
While you're with us…
Did you know The Goulburn Post is now offering breaking news alerts and a weekly email newsletter? Keep up-to-date with all the local news: sign up here.