In Ventura we trust

2500 1667 In Good Company | Northern Rivers

Ventura Brewing

Unit 10/141 Lundberg Dr, Murwillumbah

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In Ventura we trust

Ventura is a symbol of luck, chance and good fortune – and while Ventura Brewing’s two founders have had a good dose of all three – it’s mostly been a lot of hard work and focus to launch this craft kombucha brewery amid a global pandemic.

Dom Hurley and Shanu Walsh have been friends since primary school. “We were both born in Murwillumbah hospital which you can see from the brewery so we ended right back where we started,” Dom laughs.

The pair had the good fortune to discover alcoholic kombucha while they were living and travelling across the US with their partners on a two-year adventure six years ago.

“The US alcohol industry is known for being about five years ahead of us in Australia so we got a good look into the future,” Dom says, adding that Forbes magazine named hard kombucha the drink of 2020. 

“It just made total sense – naturally combining everything we love about healthier alternatives with the craft brewing industry to create something new, unique and different,” Dom says.

It not only appealed to their taste buds and interests – “we wanted to create a quality craft alternative that was clean, all natural, easy drinking and delicious” – they also saw a gap in the market.

“We noticed a lot of the craft breweries (as amazing and creative as they are) were predominantly targeted to blokes and beer drinkers – with little choice for the rest of us,” Dom says.

Ventura Brew officially began in early 2018 from Shanu’s garage while both worked full-time in other roles: Dom driving Ubers and Shanu in construction. 

“Craft hard kombucha was pretty much non-existent at the time so there wasn’t any industry knowledge on how to develop the product, so we had to do a lot of trial and error,” Dom says.

“We knew we were onto something pretty early on when friends kept coming back for more, and we just kept pushing ahead from there, step by step, to turn it into a full-sized commercial brewery.”

“Northern Rivers is full of open-minded individuals who appreciate quality craft made products and love supporting local”

The leap to a full-sized brewery scaled their capacity dramatically, but also introduced challenges. “Most things went to plan but because of the unique methods, techniques, equipment and dynamic nature of working with live cultures – we had a few curveballs and challenges getting it all right – but ultimately this led us to improve the product immensely.”

While Shanu led the way in brewing, Dom took the reins in the branding and marketing of Ventura, which they knew was key to capturing the imagination of consumers browsing the bottleshop shelves.

“We teamed up with one of the best graphic artists in the business for the vintage American style we were after: Jon Schubert of The Schubert Studio based in Texas, USA. He hand-drew all the illustrations, custom fonts and symbolic elements, a throwback to the heritage handpainted signs of the early to mid 1900s,” Dom says. The brand features ‘Lady Ventura’ and includes a pandanus palm to represent the brand’s subtropical home in Murwillumbah, as well as sun and moon motifs.

With a great tasting product that was beautifully packaged, in October 2020 Ventura Brewing was officially launched and the next road block was a blow. “Unfortunately a lot of the industry gatekeepers aren’t very welcoming to newcomers and unique products like us,” Dom says. 

This made it difficult to be stocked in large bottle shops, but they remained optimistic and persistent. 

“Northern Rivers is full of open-minded individuals who appreciate quality craft made products and love supporting local,” Dom says. The pair sold directly into bars, restaurants and local bottle shops to find their market.

And then COVID came along. “Launching a completely new product in the middle of the pandemic has been a real and ongoing challenge. All these lockdowns and border restrictions are about as welcome as an out-house breeze. All our main wholesale customers, bars and restaurants have had to shut their doors.”

This hasn’t dampened their enthusiasm and their vision remains bold. 

“We are excited about opening our brewery taproom to the public this summer. It will be a place full of creativity and camaraderie, where our subtropical nectar flows straight from the tank to tap.”

And they trust in a nod from Lady Ventura. 

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