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Checking in with Ben Krauss of Bridge Road Brewers

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Since 2005, Bridge Road Brewers have established a strong reputation not only throughout Victoria’s High Country but across Australia and beyond. From their historic Beechworth location, they continue to innovate their beer offerings and have recently announced a new Melbourne venue to open in late 2022.

Founder Ben Krauss clearly is not one to rest on his laurels, even during Victoria’s carousel of lockdowns. We caught up with him for a brief chat and pressed him on how they are rising to the challenges of doing business in 2021.

We began by asking how lockdowns have affected Bridge Road’s Beechworth venue.

“It takes its toll. This latest lockdown and the stop-start nature of things, while we’re grateful for the starts, it is hard. It’s a really difficult situation that I don’t think the government fully understands what the impact is.”

“I was in Austria for the original lockdown – my wife is Austrian – and I got to see the way Europe looked at this. If the government was forcing hospitality, or any business to close, they covered all those fixed costs for businesses and made sure staff were paid separately. The government looked after the cost of doing that.”

Ben expands on what he finds a markedly different situation in Australia. “Currently, we have to spend much of our time helping our staff through the process of getting disaster payments from the government so that they’re not missing out financially. It’s not easy understanding what it means for them in their particular role and how they can access funds. All those things aren’t so straightforward”

This last lockdown is the most stressful personally. We’ve had a tough wet winter here and then lockdowns on top of that. This weekend would have been a big trading weekend for us with the mild spring weather. In fact, we had a huge one hour of trading on Saturday before everyone had to leave the venue. I’m trying not to think about those big financial impacts.

The hospitality industry is not just a significant employer it is also a vital part of the Australian culture. Ben explains – “From a mental health perspective, people relish the opportunity for a knock off catch-up on a Friday.”

“We have a group of older women who’ve been meeting weekly in our Beechworth venue to play an old-style board game. They might not have a beer; they might have a cup of tea. We’ve got the space for them and they’re happy. There’s 8 or 10 of them, they check in on the QR code and spend a few hours catching up. It’s nice to be able to provide that.”

And what is he most looking forward to when things return to ‘normal’? “I guess it’s the confidence to be able to plan for more than a week ahead. We had a good taste of what normal life looked like during last summer, trading with minimal restrictions. I’m not sure we’re going to get that again soon.”


THE DETAILS

WHAT: Bridge Road Brewers
WHERE: 50 Ford St, Beechworth
WHEN: Open 7 days 11am – LATE
MORE INFO: Bridge Road Brewers

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