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Brewing a case for Gage Roads stadium deal

All the proposals have been lodged and no more correspondence will be entered into as far as the beer and cider contract for the new Perth Stadium.

Indeed, we could know as early as next week what brand or brands 60,000 fans can enjoy at the soon-to-be-completed Burswood Bowl.

Those brewers shortlisted by a selection committee have spent the week discussing their options with stadium management.

While a host of breweries big and small might have forwarded paperwork in the hope of securing the lucrative deal, there was only ever likely to be a handful of beer makers capable of producing enough liquid in a year for the venue.

After appraising the recent stadium beer and cider tender document, The Sip determined the eventual winner of the deal could be up for around 1.2 million litres of tap brews alone in the first 12 months.

That immediately put a rule through a lot of Australian producers. To put in context, that volume would be about a third of Feral’s annual output.

Naturally the veteran stadium beer sellers, CUB and Lion, have forwarded options to the Perth Stadium brains trust.

So, too, has Gage Roads.

And if the State government and the stadium operator are truly behind the new venue becoming a showcase for WA – as has been widely spruiked – then Gage Roads should be the preferred beer provider.

The Sip understands the Gage Roads crew presented a strong business case in response to tender outlines.

But let’s be honest. If it is down to CUB or Lion, those companies owned by offshore entities, or Gage Roads, wouldn’t it be morally correct to back to the local team? Unfortunately, that won’t be a concern for the Perth Stadium bean counters.

The Sip Beer Laboratory Podcast.

There will also be the cries Gage Roads is an ASX listed company with shareholders around the globe. Yet, many are based in Perth. The brewery operates out of Palmyra with employees, apart from a few sales staff, working in WA. When fans enjoy a brew at the venue they can be confident most of the money they forked out will stay in the State.

In the wake of the eastern States’ unwillingness to cut WA some slack on GST distribution, which has almost crippled the local economy, then a lot of stadium drinkers would feel sick in guts after downing a Lion or CUB beer knowing their cash was en route to the suits in Sydney and Melbourne before being shipped to Belgium or Japan.

The name Gage Roads is so West Australian. Captain James Stirling named the open water channel on his first visit to the region in 1826 and realised the sea lane could provide access to the Swan River and enable the establishment of a colony.

Many a founding father and mother made their way to the land of opportunity via that ocean path. It was also the playground for the 1986-87 America’s Cup defence – an event that put a world spotlight on Perth and Fremantle.

Perth Stadium beer contract.

However, one of the other key reasons to lobby long and hard for a local brewery stadium pourage deal is the standard of Gage Roads’ beers.

As one highly-credentialed eastern States-based brewer told The Sip this week, a Gage Roads arrangement was a “win for the local community” but also a boost for brew lovers because “gosh, they are making good beer now that I would be happy drinking over a footy game”.

In 2016 Gage Roads won Champion Beer at the Australian International Beer Awards for Little Dove – although at 6.2% it is unlikely it will ever be available at the stadium. More on the ABV restrictions to come.

But the brewery’s Premium Mid Pils 3.5 has been an AIBA gold medal winner and would be a wonderful choice as one of the mid-strength options demanded under the stadium contract, which calls for two lower alcohol drops. Their Narrow Neck Pale Ale (3.5%) would also fit the bill.

And while the tender document allowed for 5% ABV beers to be sold on tap to stadium attendees, the Premier’s recent public concerns have put pressure on that clause of the deal. At 4.5% the Break Water Pale Ale and Single Fin brews could be a solid compromise that might even ease the Police Commissioner’s tough stance on alcohol at events.

Gage Roads and Perth Stadium. The Sip Beer

While there are 52,000 spectators to potentially be serviced as general admission attendees, another 8000 will be situated in corporate areas. In the tender document, the new stadium controllers wanted “two premium international beers or equivalent.” That could have been an issue for any local operation.

However, The Sip has been told by sources in Adelaide that Gage Roads has formed a relationship with Coopers, who could supply some of their local brands in the rich seats as well as offering a small selection of drinks from the SA brewer’s international partners, Carlsberg and Brooklyn Brewery.

They won’t be available to the vast majority of stadium visitors.

Gage Roads can produce around 10 million litres of beer a year at the old margarine factory that is now its headquarters. Fulfilling the stadium beer deal might require extra staff but the company can certainly meet all requirements.

As for the “Boutique Bar” on the ground floor of the new venue, a facility that runs outside of the main stadium beer contract, some smaller breweries have thrown their hat in the ring.

In the 258sqm facility there will be 28 beer and cider taps with facility management desiring four craft beers be amongst the lines. At least four craft beers are to be available in package.

According to sources, Colonial Brewing Co., which recently became official beer partner for Essendon Football Club (see below), has made a strong bid for the “Boutique Bar” rights.

Essendon Colonial Brewing Co. deal. The Sip Beer

Within a Graham Farmer ruck tap from the new stadium is a major licenced venue, The Camfield, which, with a capacity for 2500 patrons, will become the biggest licensed venue in the State.

It will feature beers and a brewpub under the Lion banner. In terms of choice it would be great if the stadium offered different fare.

Wellington's Westpac Stadium welcomed craft brewery Garage Project to take over its beer taps for at least the next two years. Garage Project is synonymous with Wellington’s strong beer culture.

So, too, is Gage Roads in our neck of the woods.

It would then be appropriate for a bit of WA brewing success to be the main beer player at our new activity mecca.

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