Winemaker and Australia’s original craft brewer Phil Sexton is returning to the label he founded more than 35 years ago to reinvigorate the country’s original craft beer.
This will see Phil partner with Carlton & United Breweries, which fully acquired Matilda Bay in 1990, to build a new small-batch brewery in country Victoria that Phil and his team will run.
The Matilda Bay brewery and pub will be built on the site currently occupied by Giant Steps winery and restaurant, which is owned by Phil.
Construction is expected to start in coming weeks and the brewery is expected to be operational by the end of the year. More than 20 new jobs will be created.
The current Giant Steps site will close on Sunday. Tasting will re-open immediately at a new site in Healesville and the winery will re-open soon, with more details to be announced in coming months.
Phil said the timing was perfect to relaunch Matilda Bay and help craft beer reach its potential in Australia.
“Restoring Matilda Bay to its rightful place as Australia’s leading craft beer is unfinished business for me,” he said. “I want to grow craft beer by showing people how special good small batch beer can be.
“I founded Matilda Bay in 1983 to give drinkers beautiful craft beer. And as the original craft brewery, it still has a special spot in the consciousness of Aussie beer lovers. It’s the right label to finish what I started and re-affirm what artisanal brewing should stand for: sessionable, flavourful beers that stand the test of time.”
Phil is one of Australia’s leading brewers and winemakers. In addition to Matilda Bay, he founded Little Creatures and launched Giant Steps and Innocent Bystander wineries.
He said sustainability is a critical part of the new project, with solar panels supplying power and all waste to be recycled. The brewery will use pristine Healesville water.
“This is also about creating a beautiful new attraction in the town I love and live in,” he said. “There is something special about drinking great small-batch beer where it’s brewed.”
CUB CEO Peter Filipovic said: “Phil will oversee everything from brewery construction to brewing and marketing. He is a craft beer visionary who revolutionised Australia’s beer landscape. There is no one in the world more suited to delivering this venture than him.
“We’re meeting the changing needs of consumers by creating beautiful new beers in pristine surroundings that live up to Matilda Bay and Phil’s original vision. We couldn’t be more excited about this opportunity and we know beer drinkers will love it.”