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Regional Showcase

Glass half full attitude a winner for Yorke Peninsula brewery

Regional Showcase

A move to transfer keg beer into cans and set up a drive-thru during the COVID-19 lockdown has helped a Yorke Peninsula brewery welcome guests back into the bar.

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Like licensed venues across Australia, Watsacowie Brewing Company was forced to close its cellar door when COVID-19 restrictions started in March.

But rather than having to throw the tap beer out, brewery owner Brendan Phasey managed to transfer it into cans so takeaway sales could still be made.

“We were in a bit of a panic station because we had thousands and thousands of dollars worth of beer that we weren’t sure if we were going to be able to sell,” Phasey said.

The microbrewery in Minlaton also set up a drive-thru bottle shop on their premises, providing customers with beers and snack food without having to leave their vehicle.

“We had to quickly turn into more of a production business and we sold more technical takeaway product [during COVID-19] than we have since we’ve been open,” said Phasey.

“We found that some of our locals were a bit starved for attention. They were driving through to buy a six pack and get a bit of social interaction with somebody, that worked really well.”

The Watsacowie Brewing Company is booking local bands and interstate acts again.Watsacowie was established in 2017 by Phasey and his wife Roxanne in the township, which dubs itself the “barley capital of the world”.

The microbrewery makes 10 core beers and aims to use local produce where it can.

It is among 18 food and beverage tourism businesses on Yorke Peninsula and although it doesn’t have its own kitchen, the venue often recruits local chefs to cook meals.

“We’ve got barley growing over our back fence and our neighbour is a good customer of ours, so we managed to get some of their malt barley, sent it away to be malted and we make a seasonal beer out of the local barley every year,” said Phasey.

“We’d love to see small businesses like ours starting up down here and giving people a reason to come out of their shacks and holiday houses when the weather’s bad.

“We offer meals and use a lot of local chefs and catering providers. We get a bit of variety that way and a few businesses get to come and be involved.”

Watsacowie also aims to support live music, hosting a range of acts and shows that Phasey said differed from the cover bands typically seen in the region.

As COVID-19 restrictions lift, Phasey said Watsacowie was hoping to return to business as usual despite their drive-thru’s success.

“We’re always looking for something interesting and unique to bring to the town. We really take pride in being able to offer that,” he said

“This week we’ll be filling out our booking list with all the local bands and some interstate acts that we unfortunately had to cancel in the first place.

“We’ve got our caterers back in here. So, we will just continue to look for opportunities to collaborate with other businesses.”

This is story is part of Solstice Media’s Regional Showcase series and awards program. Each week we will bring our readers regional news stories that matter as well as some inspirational tales of individuals and communities doing what country people do best – having a go.

If you have a tale to tell or know of one, get in touch at South Australian Regional Showcase.

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