Paul and Natasha met at Uni when they were 19, fell in love, got married, travelled the world and were inspired …. Resulting in a vision and passion for good beer, good food , good wine – all the good things in life!
Both have science and chemistry backgrounds and worked for multinational corporate companies before giving it all up to start their own family business. Even before they met Paul and Tash and something in common besides Science - both were of migrant families. Paul's family from Manchester England and Natasha's from Columbo in Sri Lanka - they decided to quit their corporate jobs and follow their passion.
Paul originally found his love of baking Bread, cakes and pastries, making jams and ginger beer from his Mum at home as a youngster and converted that to a passion for all-grain brewing from first principles while at University. Paul was always intrigued by the question “How did they used to make all these things in the old days, before modern manufacturing practices ? How do you make this stuff from first principles?”
Natasha's Sri Lankan heritage has given her a love of all things food, flavour and taste for home style cooking. Growing up in Melbourne additionally gave her a passion for restaurants and the dining experience.
So, in 1997 while on holiday in the USA Paul and Tash came across the small craft brewing industry and this inspired them to have a crack at their own business. The thing that struck them most, was the businesses were small, independent, run by ordinary folks with love and passion not money – it made them stop and think – “hey, we can have a go at this!”.
And they did! So at 30 years of age, from humble beginnings and with a vision, they set-out and cobbled together a brewery in their backyard in Woodend in 1999 and started selling beer. The early history of the brewery in the late 1990s and early 2000s was one of learning and sharing the load… Paul brewing part-time week nights and weekends while working another full-time job and Natasha delivering cartons and kegs in the back-seat of the car next to the baby-seat! All the while, they were raising two babies born in 1998 and 2000…. How could a married couple manage to stay in business with that load? Just!
Not daunted by starting the brewing business, Paul and Natasha ventured into the Hospitality and Tourism caper when in 2002 they took over an historic Hotel in Woodend that would become the home of their brewing operations and a dedicated outlet and “cellar door’ for their beer. The old “Commercial Hotel” was built in 1896, later became “Keatings Hotel” and now “Holgate’s” it had been neglected for years so Natasha and Paul took it upon themselves to give the old-girl a bit of much needed love. After a stylish refurbishment in 2002 the Hotel now includes an upgraded 10 room accommodation, restaurant, bar – and space out the back for their current brewery and plans for a larger one on the way!