the story of your mates
G’day from Your Mates founders Hep and McGarry.
This story represents big dreams, big balls and what the meaning of Australian mateship is truly about.
Our bootstrap journey began on a comfy blue futon over a couple of cold beers, where we would often talk about the dream of starting something that made us jump out of bed in the morning. One of those dreams was owning a brewery and one particular evening after one too many, the decision was made. That night we looked at each other and said, ‘how hard could it really be?’ That was the start of this epic little adventure, and we’ve never looked back.
In 2013 we took our first step to pursue our dream, quitting our professional jobs to sling beers at a local bar. We didn’t have a single dollar in our bank accounts or a bloody clue about brewing beer. Looking back at our early days, we realise just how crazy and naive we were! We transformed the garage of our small beach shack into the new local schooner stop for our mates, also known as ‘The Scrapyard Bar’. We built a makeshift bar with taps, pallet shelves and a DIY brew kit made from old donated eskys. Our mates were test dummies for our first batches of beer, and gave us a tonne of praise, probably because the beers were free... We were learning more with every new batch and having a blast doing it; all in the name of research and development we’d say!
In 2014, we decided to take it to the next step and we rented a small industrial shed in the back of our home town of Moffat Beach. We would bribe all of our mates with free beer and pool competitions to give us a hand every weekend to fit out our little slice of paradise. Our Moffat Beach brewery was literally built on gestures of mateship and community support. With no real working capital, we opted to contract out the production of our beer (it turns out buying brewing equipment is crazy expensive). Although this business model had no foreseeable profit, it allowed our company to enter the market as the first of the new-age breweries on the Sunshine Coast. We had a whole lot of fun throughout this period, working blood, sweat and beers to nurture our dream to see Your Mates flowing at our local watering holes. With increased confidence, we launched our first beer, ‘Larry’, on the Sunshine Coast in 2015.
In 2014 we decided to take the next step, renting a small industrial shed in the back of our home town of Moffat Beach. We turned it into our little slice of paradise, fitting it out with the help of our mates who we bribed with free beer and pool competitions. With no real working capital, we opted to contract out the production of our beer. This business model had no foreseeable profit, however it allowed our company to enter the market as the first of the new-age breweries on the Sunshine Coast. We had a whole lot of fun throughout this period, working blood, sweat and beers to nurture our dream to see Your Mates flowing at our local watering holes.
Our first beer, Larry, was launched on the Sunshine Coast in 2015. We were working 90+ hours a week perfecting our recipe, running sales, accounts, deliveries and events whilst working our nightly bar jobs to ensure we could float our tiny business. We were brewing with a Bavarian fella named Bert out in Baffle Creek, six hours north of the Sunshine Coast. With the help of this legend, we were able to supply our locals with everyone's new best mate. Throughout this time, we focused on developing and promoting our unique brand. McGarry was one hell of a vinyl DJ and I loved to throw big ol’ parties. Things worked out pretty naturally and we began building a loyal following of mates who loved good times as much as we did.
Nonexistent cash flow and physical exhaustion were ongoing problems, but we were always motivated by how supportive all of our mates and family were. The biggest problem we faced was actually not being able to brew enough beer. Who’d have thought people would actually pay for it! Clearly this was not the worst problem to have, but it definitely prevented our ability to grow.
In June of 2017 we had a huge opportunity to brew our own beer at another facility with Macleods Brewing Co. in the Sunshine Coast hinterland at Maleny. Over the years, McGarry had brewed on many different beer systems with a number of brewing mentors, but now we could finally be in charge of our own beer! This allowed us to increase our supply as well as finally produce Larry in his own can, the ‘#Larrycan’.
In February of 2017, we decided it was time. We quit our jobs at the local and opened our own small dive bar in a forgotten Sunshine Coast town called Nambour. Although the area was not a tourist destination, people would travel from all over the coast to visit our humble little home called ‘The Basement’.
The best term to use for this hole-in-the-wall would be a super-polished turd. It was half underground under an old pub with the ability to host some local ear-bleeding bands. This move allowed us to focus on our business full time. The workload didn’t get any smaller and the pay didn’t get any higher, but at least the beers were free!
In 2018, we became the only brewing company in Australia to air on the national television show, ‘Shark Tank’. This was an unbelievable opportunity for our small brewery to showcase our brand on a national scale. We turned down a deal after an hour of back-and-forth with the Sharks. We were proud to back ourselves and our company, and the sharks gave us the confidence we needed to take Your Mates to the next level. On the back of this attention, we took the leap and began building our dream brewery in the Kawana industrial area. We wanted to create a space that felt like home, where locals would walk in as strangers and leave as mates. A place with dogs chillin’ at the entrance and a friendly bartender greets you with a genuine smile. A place with a hand-made parmy bigger than your face and a local muso jammin’ on a frothy Friday afternoon. A place where your grommies can play so you can escape for a moment to enjoy your favourite ice cold beer. At the end of 2018, our dream came to fruition. Your Mates Brew House opened its doors to welcome everyone who shared our good times vision. Looking back, it is unbelievable to see how far we’ve come in such a short amount of time. Truly a dream come true!
In 2019, Your Mates Brewing Co. was voted the best new brewery in QLD. This was an achievement we were chuffed about considering how many great breweries had been popping up over the years in our awesome Sunshine State.
Months later, the Australian public voted Larry as the 5th best beer in the entire country . . . Ya kidding aren’t ya! We were completely blown away. Larry, which was only available in South East Queensland at the time, was voted to number five. This was a truly momentous occasion.
After achieving this top 5 result, Larry became a wanted man. The phone lines blew up with legends calling from every corner of Queensland and Australia wanting to stock him in their venues and bottle shops. We did our best to meet this sudden demand, but soon realised that our ‘dream brewery’ would no doubt hit its max capacity before long.
Heading in to 2020, we knew that it would be our most challenging year yet as a business. However we didn’t know that the biggest challenge that awaited us would be a global pandemic.
Despite the bleak situation that COVID-19 thrusted the world and our industry into, we kept our spirits high. With dine-in no longer an option at Brew House, we launched a unique drive thru, serving takeaway food and beers Thursday - Sunday. This included live entertainment from the enigmatic DJ Mcgarry, who blasted beats into cars queuing for their treats from the brewery entrance.
During this time, we also launched a new character, Eddie XPA or #ExtremeEddie. He was launched via live stream on Queensland Day, watched eagerly by punters Australia wide.
The closure of venues, while catastrophic to the hospitality industry, saw sales in bottle shops skyrocket. The opportunity to go Queensland wide in all major bottle shop chains presented itself and we grabbed it.
We are now distributing our beer throughout every region of Queensland. We are still unable to quench the thirst for Larry and the crew, but we’re having a red hot crack!
As Queensland began to return to its new normal, we were once again in our crazy flow of momentum. Crowds in the recently renovated Brew House steadily increased as restrictions eased, events started to pick up and demand was stronger than ever. Before we knew it, summer was here and we were brainstorming GABS ideas.
With a top 5 finish in the previous year, the pressure was on to get Larry back on the podium in 2020. Competition had heated up, but our community had grown so much since the previous result, so we knew we could do it as a collective.
We wanted to go all out for the campaign, so we created a parody of the song and music video of 'Errol'. Aside from being die hard fans of Australian Crawl and the song, there are similarities between Errol and Larry that worked brilliantly for a parody. You can check out the full video on YouTube, just search ‘Vote 1 Larry Music Video’. There were no actors used in the video, just a crew of outstanding mates.
We released the video and our community went absolutely nuts. Everyone got behind their mate Larry and he was voted to the 4th most loved beer in Australia, one position up from 2019.
This was unprecedented. While we had grown our distribution in 2020, Larry was still only available in Queensland, mainly South-East Queensland. Once again, the calls from around the country flooded in with legends wanting to meet Larry and once again, we did our best to supply this ever growing thirst.
2021 has been a brilliant year so far. Our team has grown significantly, the Brew House has launched a mouth-watering new menu and banging live entertainment schedule, we’ve installed new tanks in the brewery and we introduced a new Ginger Beer mate to the world, #GoodTimesTilly.
It’s been a wild, rewarding, challenging, humbling and frothy ride so far and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
We can’t wait to see what the future has in store for Your Mates and we hope to have you along for the journey.
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Every week we're we're doing heaps of epic stuff around the Brew House, in the production area and in our community. Stay in the loop and follow the journey!