Something special brewing at Sou’West
A VISION two years in the making has come to fruition with the opening of the Sou’West Brewery in Torquay.
The architecturally-designed venue has capacity for 400 patrons and is anything but what you might expect from a typical brewery.
Tucked away in the Surf Coast Social space off Baines Crescent – the site of the former Quiksilver headquaters – Sou’West wows from the moment you step foot inside thanks to its soaring timber-lined ceilings and superb fit-out with a refined yet relaxed colour palette.
Deep forest green hues on the timber work throughout reference the leafy coastal surrounds, wooden tables and booth seating create a sense of warmth and cosiness, and plants throughout add a softness and natural appeal.
The gleaming stainless steel brewing tanks, visible through floor-to-ceiling windows from the dining room, rightly take pride of place behind the main bar.
The venue itself comprises three dining areas including the light-filled tasting room for casual dining, the large main dining room and family room with children’s play area.
Award-winning Melbourne architectural design firm Ewert Leaf worked wonders with the space and venue manager Tyler Ellery is delighted with the overall look and feel that’s been achieved.
“I’m absolutely thrilled. It was a long process but I couldn’t be happier,” he says.
Tyler’s father, former Asahi CEO Greg Ellery, is the main investor and managing director of Sou’West.
“Dad has a sound knowledge of the food and beverage industry and I’ve been in hospitality for over 12 years now running hotels and restaurants so it seemed like a good family progression for us to do something like this,” he says.
“I moved here in May anticipating a November opening but we had some issues with COVID and a few building obstacles but it looks absolutely amazing now it’s done.
“Torquay is the gateway to the Surf Coast. It already is such an iconic location but I feel like the demographic who is living here is crying out for more … we want to cater for everyone and have everyone feel comfortable in a welcoming and family-friendly environment.”
The space, which opened less than a week ago, also lends itself to functions and mother’s group get-togethers.
As Tyler will attest, first impressions of the interior are only a taste of what this exciting new venue has to offer and there is an additional cafe space yet to open.
At the heart of Sou’West, of course, is a fantastic beer offering and an impressive menu catering to all ages and tastes.
The men taking the reins in that space are head brewer Luke Scott, formally of Prickly Moses, and head chef Alex McIntosh, whose most recent role was executive chef with At The Heads.
Both started six months ago and have immersed themselves in the project.
Luke says he embraced the opportunity to move closer to his home base of Geelong and take on a fresh challenge.
“To build something from the ground up of this size and magnitude was certainly a challenge for me and it sounded like a really exciting concept with the venue, the beers and what they were trying to achieve,” he says.
There are six beers in the launch range, as well as a seasonal brew, which Luke describes as classic, easy-drinking session beers suited to a broad audience.
“In time we also plan to make two seltzers and a cider,” he says.
The brewing equipment is an American-built system that is among the best in the world and the bottling system is Italian. The brewery has the capacity to produce about 700,000 litres per annum.
“At the moment the majority of the production is earmarked for sales on site here, not going out into the wholesale market,” says Luke, who started his career at Fosters.
“We want to offer the beer here in an exclusive way but, in saying that, once we have volume if people are asking for the beer at other venues, we will supply them but we’re not actively pushing sales.”
Luke says it is exciting to see this area emerging as a brewery destination and he feels the Sou’West offering will complement, rather than compete with, the existing brewers on the Surf Coast.
“We are just trying to make our beer the best we can and see if it stands up.”
The drinks list also features an array of wines, sparkling and two spritzs. The coffee is locally brewed Ocean Grind.
Alex, who hails from Canada and won the 2019 Golden Plate Award for best chef, designed the menu to suit many occasions from those wanting a beer and snack, through to a full sit-down meal.
“The inspiration for the menu was a bit like the beers, we are just doing the classics but at a high level – really good quality, really tasty, excellent value and nothing that’s too out there,” he explains.
“We’ve taken inspiration from different places – there’s some Asian stuff, some French stuff and there’s some classic Australian stuff – it’s just a good mix.”
The mouth-watering menu includes small share items such as beer brined chicken wings and crispy fried calamari or cauliflower, as well as classics such as the cheeseburger, beer brined chicken parma and pepper crusted porterhouse.
The cold seafood selection offers up a ceviche, tuna tataki, kingfish sashimi, freshly shucked oysters and a seasonal seafood platter.
Then there is a range of pizzas with house-made dough, healthy bowl options and desserts such as the “beeramisu”. There are many gluten-free options and a dedicated kids’ menu.
“I think breweries can be looked upon as quite blokey with fried foods,” says Alex, who has worked at a suite of top restaurants including Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen and Neil Perry’s Rockpool.
“It’s a large menu designed to suit a broad demographic but I think the attention to detail and quality that we’re putting into it is what separates our menu from a lot of others.”
Sou’West Brewery opens Wednesday 4pm-9pm, Thursday to Friday 12pm-9pm and Saturday and Sunday 11am- 9pm. Bookings for six or more via the website.