AUSTRALIA’S NATIONAL HOTEL INDUSTRY MAGAZINE
VOL. 36 no. 4 – MAY 2019
IN THIS ISSUE: DISPLAY & DISPENSE | MASSIVE MARSDEN | TALES FROM THE TOP
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CONTENTS | ED’S NOTE
y the time this reaches you, our Pub Leaders Summit in Melbourne will be imminent. We’re looking forward to seeing many of you there and learning from our fantastic line-up of panellists and speakers. Meanwhile, we’ve a big focus this month on beer and beer dispense (page 8) as we head into these cooler months. Plus how to profit from winter beer types on page 12. We also showcase a number of darker styles on page 16. We also have a new feature, Tales From The Top. This month our interview with ALH’s National Entertainment Manager Sharlene Harris reveals Australia’s most popular live acts, on page 26. Speaking of size, we reveal Arthur Laundy’s huge new Marsden Hotel on page 18 and the renovations (and rebrand) of The Australian Youth Hotel as The Glebe Hotel on page 20 in our Design and Build feature. There’s also your usual sport picks on page 24 and the latest news shaping the industry on page 4. Cheers and have a great month, Craig Hawtin-Butcher, Editor E: firstname.lastname@example.org
Screen, sounds & entertainment • Pub dining • Gaming
Contents | May Special Features
8 Dispense and Distribute: Innovative approaches to selling more beer. 12 Seasonal Beers: How tastes shift in ED’S PICK the cooler months and how to adapt. 16 Seven To Try: Winter and seasonal ales worth exploring. 18 The Marsden: Laundy’s new megavenue revealed in pictures. 26 Tales From The Top: ALH’s National Entertainment Manager Sharlene Harris reveals Australia’s most popular live acts.
4 News: The most relevant stories affecting your business. 20 Design and Build: Single operator rebrands (and renovates) the Australian Youth Hotel as The Glebe Hotel. 24 Sports Calendar: May’s A-League LIVE! climax and more.
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AUSTRALIAN HOTELIER MAY 2019 | 3
The Grand Hotel, Cairns.
PELATHON MANAGEMENT PAYS $8.5M FOR GRAND HOTEL IN CAIRNS Pelathon Management has paid $8.5 million to acquire the Grand Hotel in Cairns along with two adjoining sites. Pelathon had managed the hotel for 18 months under a lease agreement prior to exercising its option to buy the property outright. Pelathon’s Managing Director Jaz Mooney said; “This is another prime example of an acquisition in a market where we believe there is a strong short, medium and long-term growth potential driven by a robust economy and a proactive local council.” Established in 1926, the Grand Hotel is on a 4,060sqm site opposite the Cairns Central shopping centre and features 35 gaming machines. The site also includes 176 metres of frontage to three streets, a drivethrough bottle shop, six adjoining retail shops and a former service station now being used as a hire depot.
LORD GLADSTONE SOLD: BUYER AND PRICE REVEALED The Lord Gladstone Hotel in Chippendale has sold after a rapid fourweek campaign. The freehold hotel asset is located in a Sydney Inner West growth spot, adjacent to Frasers Property Australia’s $2 billion Central Park urban development project, which occupies six hectares on the former Carlton & United brewery site at Broadway. The asset was sold by owner Paddy Coughlan, who previously advised the market he was divesting the hotel to free up capital to invest into growing his hard lemonade business, Frank Strong’s. Purchased for a reported $5.5m, the successful buyer is existing pub owner George Kazzi; who also owns the Forresters Hotel in Surry Hills. The venue, located near the Spice Alley precinct, is likely to benefit from increasing residential and hospitality development nearby. The hotel came with six gaming machine entitlements and a 3am licence. Blake Edwards and Dan Dragicevich of HTL Property, exclusive agents for the hotel sale, say there’s a deep level of interest and activity in CBD fringe hospitality properties. “We enjoyed a favourable campaign in terms of enquiries, with multiple parties submitting EOIs,” says HTL Property Director Blake Edwards. “With several strong offers received, the substantial interest level resulted in a quick turnaround between the marketing campaign and the effective sale,” says Edwards.
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CBRE Hotels Director Paul Fraser and CBRE Cairns Managing Director Danny Betros negotiated the sale of the landmark Cairns pub on behalf of private owners Runnico Pty Ltd. “The hotel has undergone a significant renovation, including the main bar, alfresco dining areas and an upgrade of the gaming room to accommodate increased machine numbers,” Mr Fraser said, noting that this had completed Stage 1 of Pelathon’s plans for the property. Mr Betros noted that Stage 2 was now well underway, including a redevelopment of the adjoining sites. “This will maximise the highest and best use of the total site, with plans currently underway for an exciting multi-use development in the near future,” Mr Betros said. It is believed these plans include high-rise development.
Coughlan’s Lord Gladstone sold for reported $5.5m. Image © Google 2019.
HTL Property have also been involved with the recent sale of several other Inner West pubs, including the Coopers Hotel in Newtown and Salisbury Hotel in Stanmore. Meanwhile all eyes continue to monitor developments at the Hotel Steyne in Manly, which HTL property is handling, for which expressions of interest closed in March. The vendors' price expectations are of around $70m but sources suggest that level is unlikely to be achieved. Justin Hemmes has reportedly viewed the property but when HTL Property were approached for comment on that sale, no additional details were confirmed. It’s reported several buyers are involved in negotiations. to secure the property.
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NEWS The Welcome Hotel, Balmain. Image © Google 2019
AUSTRALIAN VENUE CO COLLABORATES WITH TECH STARTUP ON MENUS MAYOR OFFERS TO PROTECT SYDNEY’S INNER WEST HOTELS FROM VEXATIOUS COMPLAINTS The shutdown of a family-owned, single operator hotel’s barbecue in Balmain drew a swift response from the Mayor and CEO of the Inner West Council in Sydney when contacted by Australian Hotelier. Inner West Council Mayor Darcy Byrne revealed his intention to propose a ‘Good Neighbour Policy’ across the Inner West local government area at the next council meeting on 23 April 2019 “and that we include all amenity impacts related to long-standing hotels, not just music venues,” says Byrne. Byrne enacted a similar good neighbour policy at the former Leichhardt Council in Sydney’s Inner West which, Byrne confirmed, “said if there’s a noise complaint from a neighbour, we should mitigate it, not litigate it. The council should be responsible for convening a meeting between the licensee or publican and the complainant so they can have a conversation over a coffee and beer to find a solution to the problem, rather than getting the lawyers or rangers in and wasting public and private money.” “These pubs need to be respected as cultural institutions and essential part of our history and culture,” Byrne told Australian Hotelier, “and the [Inner West] Council needs to work with proprietors to address amenity issues. Of course we’re responsible for that. “But we’ve also got to send a clear message that if you move next door to a pub in the Inner West of Sydney, don’t complain about the noise. That’s part of living in an outstanding urban environment that most people on Earth would be very pleased to move into.” Such a policy would prevent vexatious complaints from shutting down legitimate activities at hotels including The Welcome Hotel. The Welcome Hotel’s owner Liam O’Keeffe had slammed Sydney’s Inner West Council after The Welcome Hotel on the Rozelle/Balmain fringes was forced to shut down its courtyard barbecue in April, or face an $8,000 fine from the Inner West Council every time it was used. It was the culmination of at least one neighbour complaint investigated by the Council since last November.
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Australian Venue Co has announced a new collaboration with Melbourne-based tech startup Mr Yum. Mr Yum’s tool – currently free to both customers and venues – uses a customer’s smartphone camera to scan QR codes on the menu to reveal a photo of that dish before you order. “Mr Yum is turning word-based menus into beautiful digital photo menus so you can see everything before ordering,” said a Mr Yum spokesperson. No app is required to use the service; iPhone users can scan the QR code by using their phone’s default camera app, and Android users can scan it using Google Lens. A spokesperson for Australian Venue Co said: “[We are] excited to partner with Mr Yum to provide our customers with access to a digital and visual version of our menus. “We’re focused squarely on providing the best possible customer experience in our venues and with Mr Yum we’re really giving our customers complete transparency of the menu to make the ordering process easier and hopefully showcase some items from the menu that people may not have otherwise thought to choose.” First launched in Melbourne and now available in Sydney, participating venues include Bungalow8, The Rook and The Winery in Surry Hills plus 50 Australian Venue Co locations across Australia being rolled out in the next few months. “Mr Yum is simple to use and easy to implement, most importantly it doesn’t have an effect on our workflow and it’s free,” says Jacqui Corbett of The Winery.
NEW NSW MINISTER APPOINTED FOR LIQUOR AND GAMING Kevin Anderson has been promoted to the NSW cabinet as the NSW Minister for Better Regulation and Innovation, taking responsibility for the former Liquor and Gaming portfolio from former Racing Minister Paul Toole. Anderson, the Nationals’ member, recently won a third term in April’s state election and has been appointed to his first ministerial role © Facebook / Kevin Anderson MP since being elected back in 2011. The AHA NSW has welcomed Anderson’s appointment, with AHA NSW CEO John Whelan saying the Association and its members looked forward to working closely with the new Minister. “On behalf of our executive and members I would like to congratulate Mr Anderson on being appointed to the Ministry,” said Whelan. “He is a respected local MP, who is popular with our members in the Tamworth area, and I look forward to working with him.” Whelan also paid tribute to former Racing Minister Paul Toole, saying: “We were fortunate to have Paul Toole as our Minister. He had an excellent understanding of the hotel industry and under his leadership NSW hotels were able to operate in a stable and certain regulatory environment.”
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The Observer Hotel, The Rocks
HISTORIC HOTEL’S BEER GARDEN WINS JAMIE DURIE BEER GARDEN MAKEOVER An historic Sydney pub has won a nationwide search by Belgian white beer brand Hoegaarden and landscape designer Jamie Durie to find the Australian beer garden most in need of a makeover. The Observer Hotel in The Rocks has had its beer garden transformed in record time into an inner-city oasis with the redesign focusing on creating an escape from Sydney's urban jungle. CEO and founder of Seagrass Boutique Hospitality Group, owner of The Observer Hotel, Bradley Michael, said, “Seeing the transformation of the venue has been incredible – never in a million years did we think our beer garden could
ever look this green and lush! Our huge thanks go out to the team at Hoegaarden and Jamie Durie, we can’t wait to share the venue with the locals!” Australian Hotelier witnessed the April unveiling, which you can watch online at http://bit.ly/AH-Observer Dubbed the ‘Beer Gaarden Blitz’, the aim was to bring nature and simplicity to an urban environment, transforming the space with greenery. As a heritage-listed venue, The Observer Hotel’s Beer Gaarden Blitz was no mean feat for Jamie and his team of designers and landscaping experts, however that didn’t stop them from completely transforming the concrete courtyard
SETTLERS’ FLOWER EXPANDS HOTEL PORTFOLIO
into an inner city oasis. The space has been re-designed to make it more functional and over 80 trees and plants were introduced, including Espalier Orange trees as a nod to the beer’s traditional recipe. Hoegaarden’s Beer Gaarden Blitz ambassador, Jamie Durie, said, “It’s important for regulars to have spaces like [this] to help escape from the urban sprawl. “The Observer Hotel is an iconic and beautiful venue in the heart of Sydney, and to be able to add all these wonderful, natural and green elements to the space has been incredibly rewarding for myself and the team.”
Hastings Hotel, Wauchope. Image © Google 2019
Leading Port Macquarie publican and National AHA Award winner Alistair Flower has purchased the art deco Hastings Hotel in Wauchope on the NSW North Coast for a reported $4.5m. Flower is rapidly expanding his pub group, which already includes Settlers Inn and Fernhill Tavern, both in Port Macquarie. Flower also purchased the Lake Cathie Tavern in nearby Lake Cathie in January 2019. Flower told Australian Hotelier the purchase “complements our local strategy” and that “we see opportunities to service the local community but also day trippers [to] the Hastings with the development of Wauchope as a great boutique town, rich with history.” Flower also told Australian Hotelier he was motivated to buy, saying “Wauchope has an awesome loyal local community” and highlighted that it’s a “traditional pub with great food”. The corner hotel features a public bar, drive-through bottleshop and gaming room with 10 PMEs on an approximate 2,075 sqm plot. HTL Property agents Xavier Plunkett and Andrew Jolliffe acted for
Flower’s Pub Group in the purchase, having also acted on the buyer’s side for Flower to secure the Lake Cathie Tavern. Publican Alistair Flower will be speaking at Australian Hotelier’s Pub Leaders Summit in Melbourne on 20 May. To be there, meet Alistair and discover more about this story face-to-face, visit: www.publeaders.com.au.
AUSTRALIAN HOTELIER MAY 2019 | 7
DISPLAY, DISPENSE, DISTRIBUTION
BEER, BREW AND CELLAR KIT EXPLAINED FROM DISPLAY AND DISPENSE TO DISTRIBUTION AND CLEANING, CRAIG HAWTIN-BUTCHER REVEALS NEWS FROM AROUND AUSTRALIA WHEN IT COMES TO BEER, BAR AND CELLAR EQUIPMENT.
SERVING TANKS As Tom Champion, Head Brewer at Felons Brewing Co – and formerly of Little Creatures – explains, there are many methods available to clarify beer and dispense beer in a pub environment. One they’re championing at their central Brisbane site is the serving tank. “Every brewery I’ve worked at has had a close connection with hospitality and the impact that can have on the customer and consequently your business and your brand. “We’re using serving tanks, which have been around a number of years. Little Creatures started them back in 2000. So serving tanks behind the bar as opposed to kegs. So you’re reducing labour on your people, keep pressure on your beer, it’s dark, it’s cold, it’s glycol-jacketed. You can really monitor the carbonation. If it’s under or over-carbonated you can fix it in the tank. There’s also the romance – people love to see the tanks behind the bar with the line going all the way to the tap. “In the brewery our technology centrepiece is the centrifuge. They’ve been around for a while but the scale we’re talking about, they’re quite new. To see them in a brewery of our size, running at 30HL/hr or 3000L/hr is quite slow for a piece of machinery like that. That’s from GEA Westphalia in Germany, one of the better centrifuge manufacturers in the world. They have an even smaller model that runs at half that speed for a 10HL brewery. That technology is entering the domain of smaller brewers, which is good to see. “The most common way of getting your beer clear is to use filtration. The most common thing to use when doing that is a substance called diatomaceous earth. It’s not good for the environment. A centrifuge doesn’t have the by-products and safety concerns and it’s better for the beer. “A centrifuge runs about 12,000rpm and all the yeast just gets pulled to the side. We think it’s better for the flavour, better for the safety of our people and better for the environment.
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Felons Brewing Co. Head Brewer Tom Champion
CLEANING YOUR LINES Publicans are acutely aware of the importance of cleaning their beer lines, but as Charlie Whitting, editor of Beer & Brewer magazine says, it’s worth reiterating. “There are companies and technologies out there that are improving beer line cleaning operations all the time,” says Whitting, “and it is worth exploring what’s out there. However, the simple, unalterable fact is that if you’re not cleaning your lines regularly then the beer you’re serving will not be up to the standards that your suppliers or customers expect or want.” So it’s time to clear up some misconceptions, says Carl Pavett, Managing Director of Hunter Technologies and provider of CellarControl line-cleaning solutions. “The longer we have been involved with this industry,” says Pavett, the more “we have seen so many venues think that cleaning the lines as often as possible is the key to good quality beer. So many venues ignore the [other] procedures needed to ensure top quality beer.”
PAVETT ADVISES: 1. All fittings need to be regularly cleaned – we have worked with a lot of customers who use maxi-enzyme to help this, it’s safe, non-toxic and easy to use to clean. 2. Coupler fittings are often found with growth on them. They simply need a scrub with a brush and some maxi-enzyme. Tap heads are often filthy and just need a soak with some maxi-enzyme. 3. CellarControl allows you to ensure the internal of the beer lines are clean, saving wastage, time and money – this time can then be spent ensuring the system is being looked after properly.
DISPLAY, DISPENSE, DISTRIBUTION
REFRIGERATION An Adelaide-based refrigeration firm is keeping Pirate Life Brewing’s beer cold. Cold Logic will chill 11 million litres of beer annually for Pirate Life Brewing at the craft brewer’s Port Adelaide brewery. Cold Logic has already delivered projects for Coopers Brewery in Regency Park, 4 Pines Brewing Company in Manly along with contract brewing company Brewpack in Goulburn. The 400kW refrigeration plant – designed and assembled at Cold Logic’s nearby Port Adelaide factory – consists of compressors, plate heat exchanger, evaporative condenser, glycol tank, and all associated pumps, valves and insulated pipe work. This high performance system will improve efficiency by approximately 30% through reducing the energy required during the brewing and fermenting process. The process utilises the natural refrigerant ammonia, which has no greenhouse warming potential or impact on the ozone layer. “Typically refrigeration makes up half of a brewery’s energy use,” said Cold Logic Partner Eddie Lane. “The refrigeration system at Pirate Life’s new brewery will deliver long-term cost savings and help secure environmental sustainability, which is key in such a highly-competitive industry.”
Cold Logic and Pirate Life in refrigeration collaboration.
Cold Logic's Eddie Lane (left) and Pirate Life's John Phinney
DISPLAY, DISPENSE, DISTRIBUTION
Illuminated Hero Fonts at The Squire’s Landing, Sydney
The Duotank Tank Beer System is an alternative to kegs in the supply chain for the delivery, storage and dispense of draught beer. 1. The beer is stored in a food-grade aseptic bag inside an insulated tank pressurised with compressed air. The bag-in-tank principle eliminates the need for additional Co2 and combined with a cold supply chain, maintains beer quality from brewery to glass. 2. The beer is transported in purpose-built refrigerated tanker trucks and pumped into the venue tanks via a beer hose. 3. Breweries and venues enjoy the benefits of consistent brewery fresh beer, no keg handling, less wastage, increased cool room space, no beer gas, labour cost savings and reduced OHS&E risks.
Duotank systems are often placed above the bar for visual impact
ILLUMINATED HERO FONTS As Antonio Kuo, Venue Manager at The Squire’s Landing in Sydney explains, these tap-top spyglasses help show customers the colour and consistency of the beer on that tap. “The taps are called Illuminated Hero Fonts and The Squire’s Landing was the first James Squire Brewhouse to have them installed. They’re always a conversation starter. “As well as pleasing to the eye, they showcase the colour of each beer and gives an indication to the customer what sort of style they might be drinking. Generally speaking, the beers are tapped in order of the James Squire ‘thirst-quench scale’. This means they’re in order of beers considered easier to drink, finishing with beers that are more complex, a little like the tasting paddles.”
‘CROWLERS’ EXPLAINED: TAKEWAY TAP BEER IN CANS
Jeremy Good from Cowaramup Brewing using a can seamer
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There’s an alternative to larger-format growlers and squealers for venues looking to serve takeaway tap beer to their customers. Alessandro Alberti, owner of Big Can Suppliers Australia, explains: 1. Crowlers are a 946ml size can, filled and seamed on-premise with a venue’s tap beer for takeaway consumption. 2. Takeaway tap beer in a Crowler eliminates light penetration and when filled correctly with a perfect seam, keeps the beer fresher for longer (although sooner is best). 3. No need to convince patrons to buy a $20 growler plus $20-30 of beer. Takeaway cans might be $15 all-in. They may choose more than one beer and no issue if they’ve forgotten their growler. 4. One-time use, recyclable aluminium. 5. Starter kit of a canning machine plus 845 cans and freight is around $5,500. 6. In use across a number of venues including Felons Brewery (Brisbane, QLD), Murray’s Brewing (Bob’s Farm, NSW) and Indian Ocean Brewing Co (Mindarie, WA).
DISPLAY, DISPENSE, DISTRIBUTION
Redcape Hotel Group are one BTG customer. Shown here, The Leumeah Hotel
DISTRIBUTION TECHNOLOGY It’s not just taps and tanks where innovations are being made – technology is also offering up opportunities to upsell at the point of sale, as well as improve efficiencies in distribution. BTG’s CEO Darren Brighton highlights two key products that may support improved distribution, already in extensive use in a number of hotel chains. These, says Brighton, include the likes of the ALH Group, Redcape Hotel Group, Laundy Group, Bayfield’s in Dee Why along with The Sydney Collective and the Marlow Hotel Group. “Our flagship products are the Ultra Guest Voice Pagers, which alert customers when their food order is ready to pick up. We also provide Ultra Table Flags, which are indoor GPS table location devices to provide food runners where customers are seated, reducing cold food complaints and to increase the customer experience,” says Brighton. Both have the benefit of potentially reducing labour costs by ensuring patrons pick up their own orders, while table flags enable wait staff to better locate guests at tables more quickly, when a table service option is preferred. These technologies don’t just assist with completing food orders, but offer benefits in beer and drinks distribution as well, says Brighton. “The ultra pagers have the ability to easily change the advertising space [to read] ‘Beer of the Month’” while diners are waiting for their order. These ads, on a diner’s table, may encourage impulse purchases for beverages and complement other POS and digital signage solutions.
Beer randall in situ at Mountain Goat brewery, Richmond, VIC
THE ‘RANDALL’ EXPLAINED The ‘beer randall’ has been around a while but remains a key point of difference for innovative venues, including Little Creatures in Fremantle and Mountain Goat’s bar in Richmond, VIC. As Tom Champion, Head Brewer at Felons Brewing Co explains: “[A beer randall is] like a tumbler that sticks up out of your bar that beer can flow through, on its way from the keg to the tap. It’s like a mesh screen and you can load it up with whatever you want – additional hops, fruit, coffee, chilli, anything you can think of, and it will infuse the beer… It’s a good way to play and add some vibrancy to your beer. “We’ve had them before, a big one sitting in the bar like a centrepiece. People come in and say ‘wow, what’s that, oranges floating in beer?’ and then they can taste it. “You can get them custom made or buy them online from Dogfish Head [in the US]. Mountain Goat were one of the first to have a randall, they still have theirs there in the Richmond, VIC venue.”
AUSTRALIAN HOTELIER MAY 2019 | 11
Seasons change, tastes change AS THE NATION HEADS INTO CHILLIER TIMES, CRAIG HAWTIN-BUTCHER REVEALS HOW DRINKERS’ TASTES FOR WINTER CHANGE AND HOW HOTELIERS CAN ADAPT TO THEM.
ost venues seem to be contracted [to one of the big two brewers],” says Tom Pigott of Solotel’s The Bank. “For venues under those contracts, they have so many more options now, with those big companies having invested in smaller craft breweries. I would encourage venues with those contracts to consider the Pirate Lifes, 4 Pines, Goose Islands, Matilda Bay ranges. They don’t lose out by trying to experiment. There’s such a big growth still in the craft beer market that people are always looking.” With those words of encouragement, now is the time to embrace seasonal shifts. “May is a special time of year,” says Dean Romeo of Felons Brewing Co in central Brisbane. “Mainly because it’s that transition from the warmer weather into the colder weather. So there’s an ability to be open to these fruit sour beers, but also lean in to those roastytoasty notes of porters, stouts and dark ales.” The large brewpub venue, Felons, opened last November and, while Queensland winters are milder than many, how they will fare as the weather cools is something of an unknown quantity, given it will be their first winter in operation. However, as Romeo explains, “we’re pretty into what’s in season at the time of our seasonal releases. When we’re conceptualising each beer we’re very sensitive
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to what local farmers are growing and what’s available,” says Romeo. “For seasonal peaks, we look at what sort of fruits are in season,” says Romeo. “We’re just coming out of the peak of summer here in Brisbane [in April], mandarins are really starting to ripen on the trees, so we’ve got a little mandarin gose up our sleeves. It’s a session sour beer.”
GOING DARK FOR WINTER Meanwhile in Sydney’s Camperdown, Wayward Brewing Co has a pretty clear idea what to expect this winter. “As soon as the weather starts to cool down we find people instinctively begin to gravitate to richer, more malt driven styles,” says Tully Mansfield, National Sales Manager with Wayward. “For us, Autumn has always been a big month for our Red IPA… as it’s a great balance of something a bit more malt-forward that’s still clean and hoppy – perfect for the seasonal transition.” The result of that popularity is an updated version of their red IPA now in can and joining Wayward’s core range. “Definitely you’ll see a rise in amber/red style ales,” says Pigott. “For a string of our pubs I definitely see more putting on 4 Pines amber ale. It’s a nice approachable easy level, where
it’s darker in colour but it doesn’t lose all its hoppiness so you don’t push away those who are getting into the more darker style ales. “We’re definitely seeing a rise in red IPAs. That’s probably a style I’m seeing more and more of. A personal favourite of mine is the Hop Nation American Red, which is my go-to Winter beer,” says Pigott.
SWEET FOR WINTER Across town, James Thorpe, co-owner of Thorpe Hospitality and The Taphouse, Darlinghurst and The Oxford Tavern, Petersham says: “As the weather cools we start to see some of the richer, maltier styles coming out. Red ales and amber ales all the way up-to bigger darker porters and stouts.” Thorpe has also spotted some distinct new trends heading into these cooler months. “Over the last few years, we’ve definitely seen a big rise in sweeter dark beers, like milk stouts and dessert stouts, as well as barrel aged stouts,” says Thorpe. “People are starting to realise that not every stout has to be a dry Irish stout like Guinness.” Wayward’s Mansfield agrees. “Bigger Imperial and/or Barrel Aged Stouts are becoming more and more popular as people continue to diversify their beer drinking preferences beyond the more traditional Pale
Ale and IPA styles. Richer, higher alcohol beers that are for sipping and savouring are definitely perfect for the cold months.”
EXCISE CHANGES It’s not just the changing seasons that are driving patrons tastebuds, says Solotel’s Pigott. Upcoming changes to excise laws mean that smaller-size kegs will increasingly become an affordable option for hoteliers. “With the excise law change coming in,” says Pigott, “I think we’ll see more, heavier ABV beers – 8 or 9%, Russian stouts or big, heavy stouts that more venues will be able to get because of the smaller keg at a much more decent price than we’re used to. “A lot more breweries will start to use those smaller kegs to get out limited beers that more venues will be more attracted to,” says Pigott. Meanwhile, The Local Taphouse’s Thorpe says unfortunately some other Winter styles are apparently on the wane: “We’re seeing a bit of a decline in the more English style ales, like ESBs, bitters and brown ales, which is a shame as we really enjoy drinking those styles,” says Thorpe. Mansfield is also seeing some other styles drop away in popularity: “Things like Black IPAs, which people couldn’t get enough of a few years ago, seem to have taken a bit of a back seat in the last 18 months. Also a lot of classic English and Belgian style dark beers, while not on the wane per se, are definitely a bit underrated when it comes to great cold weather drinking.”
Felon’s mandarin sour seasonal offering for May
Specialist craft beer spot, Uncle Hops at Solotel's The Bank
THERE’S MORE TO BEER THAN PALES AND IPAS Craft brewers may love their pale ales and IPAs, but any brewery Beer & Brewer Editor worth its Charlie Whitting salt will have a couple of darker options on their list. Beer & Brewer Editor Charlie Whitting explains more about winter beers on offer. 1. Darker beers tend to lean more towards the malty flavours rather than hoppy bitterness so ensure that staff have tasted the beers and know what to expect – coffee, molasses, chocolate, biscuity flavours are often to be found. 2. Dark beers range greatly in ABV, from dark milds which can be as low as 3% to imperial stouts that can get up to 12% and beyond. A good ABV range will serve you well. 3. Some examples of dark, winter beers include: porters, stouts, dark lagers, bocks, brown ales, imperial stouts and Baltic porters.
ALL HAIL THE PALE However, it’s important to remember that for many drinkers, the changing seasons don’t always change their drinking preferences. Customers will drink pales, NEIPAs and sours whatever the time of year, says Thorpe. “As much as we like to complain about it, our winter in Sydney really isn’t that overbearing, and most drinkers still want to drink those lighter beers that they’re used to all year round.” “You still see people coming in and wanting to start with something light,” says Solotel’s Pigott, “even though Sydney’s winter is quite mild relatively, it’s not cold enough where a pale isn’t still going to be enjoyable.” While seasonally-led food menus adapt to seasonal ingredients and the craving for heartier dishes, the year-round quest to complement food and beer offerings continues into Winter. “These styles naturally lend themselves to be used in cooking,” says Thorpel, “something we like to play around with at both [The Taphouse and The Oxford Tavern]. Stouts in particular work really well in a range of dishes, especially a good meat pie. We also enjoy pairing the beers to our food, and find that the robust flavours of these wintery beer styles pair really well with our heartier dishes, such as our Sunday Roasts.” The answer to changing seasons is to adapt the beer offering, encourage experimentation, ensure the food menu and drinks lists are complementary and explore the opportunities.
TOP TIPS TO TEMPT CHANGE Felons’ Dean Romeo says: “My first tip is to not treat these people like they’re a customer. It feels like we create a barrier when we label people as customers. When they’re really just like our friends and family. Having an authentic
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conversation about what beers they enjoy and why, and inviting them or encouraging them to try something new and then giving them a reason to try it, then I think you’re on to a winner. “I can’t help but think there’s still such a massive opportunity to help educate people on the many different styles of beer, and how important the service industry is in carving out that journey and supporting the industry. The more we talk about food and beer, and not just talking about drinking beer on a hot day, we’re setting ourselves up for a brighter future.” Wayward’s Mansfield says: “Never be afraid to gently push someone out of their comfort zone a bit and give them a taste of new things. If they’re consistently drinking pales or IPAs, suggest something a little more malt-forward like an amber or red IPA as a first step. Once people wrap their head around those roastier malt profiles it’s only a hop, skip and a jump to porters, stouts and beyond.” The Local Taphouse’s Thorpe says: “Training is key, obviously knowledge is power in trying to push any product. We find that using relatable terms when describing the beers to the customer helps, flavours like caramel, coffee, chocolate work really well. If a customer is still unsure, offering them a small taste so that they can experience the beer can go a long way to having them purchase something they wouldn’t usually drink.” Solotel’s Pigott says: “The best thing I see at a lot of venues is a flight option… where you get a flight of three to five beers in roughly 200ml pours. It means you can start with something light and then move through flavours. That’s what we do here [at The Bank] – we have a three-flight option.”
SAVE THE DATE
Wednesday 23rd October 2019
www.liquorawards.com.au Early bird tickets: Kirsten Pain - 0412 142 993 or firstname.lastname@example.org Sponsorship opportunities: Shane T Williams - 0431 857 765 or email@example.com
WINTER BEERS PROMOTION
Winter Warmers FROM RED IPAS TO PORTERS AND STOUT, WE HIGHLIGHT SOME OF THE WINTER WARMERS WELL WORTH LISTING THIS TIME OF YEAR.
PHOTOGRAPHED AT THE GLEBE HOTEL, SYDNEY BY SIMON TAYLOR. TEKU GLASSWARE (BELOW) BY RASTAL, AVAILABLE AT RASTAL.COM. STYLING BY KEA THORBURN.
MODUS OPERANDI FORMER TENANT RED IPA
Bursting with aromas of passionfruit and mango due to a heavy hand on the Mosaic and Galaxy dry hops, this Ruby Red IPA has a complex blend of citrusy hops and savoury caramel malt flavour followed by a slightly sweet finish. 7.8% ABV. www.mobrewing.com.au
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BATCH BREWING CO HOLGATE ELSIE THE MILK STOUT BREWHOUSE Elsie is made by combining unfermentable lactose with an incredibly complex malt bill. The result is a beer that’s sweet and smooth, dark and roasty, with gentle touches of chocolate, coffee and cream. Served on nitrogen to bring an incredibly soft mouthfeel to this sweet stout. 4.4% abv. www.batchbrewingco.com.au
TEMPTRESS CHOC PORTER Temptress is a porter infused with cocoa and whole vanilla beans, a winter warmer with a cult following since its 2008 release. Award-winning and ranks highly on critics’ top-beer lists. A perfect accompaniment to beef pies, winter braises and chocolate-based desserts. 6.0% ABV. www.holgatebrewhouse.com
WINTER BEERS PROMOTION
Aromas of rich chocolate and roast, this porter is Modusâ€™ version of a session Russian Imperial Stout. A complex blend of nine types of malt form a blend of chocolate, roast and caramel flavour while still finishing on the dry side.
Rich and flavoursome, yet ever refreshing, this malt driven ale is beautifully balanced by an aromatic lift of hops. Subtle fruit derived from open fermentation compliments a strong backbone of toffee and chocolate, all bound together by a reassuring bitterness.
SILENT KNIGHT PORTER
5.6% ABV. www.mobrewing.com.au
4.9% ABV. www.whiterabbitbeer.com.au
BRIDGE ROAD BREWERS
Bridge Road may be better known for their classic Beechworth Pale Ale, but their Robust Porter has its very own cult following. Silky smooth milk chocolate and vanilla notes are backed up by a chalky dryness that really makes this beer sing. 5.2% ABV. www.bridgeroadbrewers.com.au
Rich and creamy, distinctively black, velvety in its finish. This iconic beer is defined by harmony. Sweet counters bitter as the malt arrives to complement the roasted barley base. Just as the unmistakable white head sits atop the dark beer, so the flavours counter and combine. 4.2% ABV. www. guinness.com
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LAUNDY’S THE MARSDEN INTERIORS AND NUMBERS ARTHUR LAUNDY’S HUGE NEW OPENING IN SYDNEY’S NORTH WEST, THE MARSDEN HOTEL AND BREWHOUSE OPENED ON 2 APRIL 2019. CRAIG HAWTIN-BUTCHER REVEALS ALL THE DETAILS. Brewkit at The Marsden Hotel and Brewhouse
The North Pavilion at The Marsden Hotel and Brewhouse seats 154
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The dedicated indoor sports bar
The Samuel Marsden Room private dining function space
Children’s covered play area
The Saloon function space at The Marsden
Main bar area at The Marsden
he hotel is believed to be the largest hotel and brewery in Western Sydney, costing a reported $45m and has taken over a year in the planning and construction. The venue includes 13 sports screens plus a further two big screens – one on the outdoor terrace and another within the dedicated indoor sports bar. There’s also a dedicated outdoor sports bar adjacent to the indoor sports bar. Originally slated for a February 2019 opening, the venue joins prominent hotel family Laundy Hotels’ existing group of about 29 hotels, pubs, bars and hospitality venues across Sydney. “We believe this hotel will be a destination hotel where people from all over Sydney will travel to it,” said Laundy Hotels’ Managing Director, Arthur Laundy, when revealing the plans in August 2018. The Marsden Hotel and Brewhouse – which features an in-house craft beer production facility – is located within the $2bn Sydney Business Park. Marsden Park is about 45 minutes’ drive north-west of the CBD. The Marsden Hotel and Brewhouse’s General Manager, Wayne MacDonald, told Australian Hotelier: “The Marsden Hotel is the culmination of Arthur Laundy’s six decades of hotel ownership. Arthur’s vision for the Marsden was to build a hotel that caters to everyone in the community with good and old fashioned hospitality principles as its core. Good food and good people backed by excellent service.”
ENTERTAINMENT The Marsden’s spokesperson Erin McCumiskey confirmed to Australian Hotelier the venue is heavily focused on food and drink quality, function provision and creating “a great vibe for the venue”. This includes live music in the afternoons each Friday (5pm-8pm), Saturday (4pm-7pm) and Sunday (2pm-6pm). A DJ will play on Fridays (10pm-2am) and Saturday nights (9:30pm-2am). Sundays revert to a family-friendly focus with an activity provided each Sunday.
SPACES REVEALED The new large-format venue includes a bistro with two main areas, namely The North Pavilion (with space for 154 covers) and The Pizzeria (with space for 60 covers). Other facilities include bars, gaming room, function centre, a modern state-of-the-art children’s playground, an outdoor sports lounge and TAB facilities. A conference and function centre on the first floor will accommodate weddings and corporate events for up to 400 guests. A private dining function space, the Samuel Marsden Room, has also been revealed.
“The Marsden Hotel is the culmination of Arthur Laundy’s six decades of hotel ownership” – Venue GM Wayne Macdonald
IN-HOUSE BREWS As we go to press, three beers crafted in-house are on tap, with another three set to be added to the taps very shortly, allowing the brewery to experiment with seasonal flavours. GM of the brewery, Daryl MacGray, revealed to Australian Hotelier they have kegging Australia’s first ever lower-carb craft beer, provisionally named Marsden Brewhouse Dry, with the product available exclusively at The Marsden soon after. The Marsden’s spokesperson Erin McCumiskey also confirmed the venue’s intention to in future supply other Laundy hotels with beer from The Marsden and thereafter to distribute to other venues outside the Laundy Hotels group. The timeline can not be confirmed at present. The Brewery will produce one million litres across a vast portfolio of beer and cider under the brewhouse’s Master Brewer, Bruce Peachey. Venue GM Wayne Macdonald revealed plans to contract brew at the brewhouse. “Part of the Marsden brewery’s focus other than it’s vast on-premise offering is contract brewing,” says Macdonald. “Other hoteliers who want to offer their own brand can provide us with a taste profile of their choice and we can create that beer for them to call their own.” After a preview launch to the trade prior to opening, the customer-facing 2 April opening represented a soft launch for the venue as it ramps up towards full operation.
Outdoor terrace and entertainment area
THE VENUE IN NUMBERS • Opened 2 April 2019, originally slated February 2019. • Located within the $2bn Sydney Business Park. • Marsden Park is about 45 minutes’ drive north-west of Sydney CBD. • 13 sports screens plus a further two big screens. • The Brewery will produce one million litres of beer a year. • Six in-house craft brews among the beers on tap.
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DESIGN & BUILD
HISTORIC YOUTH HOTEL FIT FOR MODERN TIMES “T SYDNEY’S AUSTRALIAN YOUTH HOTEL GETS REJUVENATING MAKEOVER TO BECOME THE GLEBE HOTEL. CRAIG HAWTIN-BUTCHER REVEALS HOW THIS SINGLE-SITE FAMILYOWNED OPERATOR HAS MODERNISED TO STAY COMPETITIVE.
his industry is super-competitive and if you don’t reinvest in your business, you’re certainly going to lose marketshare.” That’s the verdict of Daniel Nissen, co-owner of the newly renamed Glebe Hotel in Sydney, which has just undergone a major sevenmonth renovation. Formerly known as the Australian Youth Hotel, Daniel owns the hotel alongside his brother Zelman, their mother, sister and, before his passing, their father. The result, says Jerry Bull, Principal of the project’s designers Alexander & Co, is “beautiful and reverential. It is textural, material and historically intriguing while still having a clear sense of spontaneity.” The Zelmans represent a family-owned, single operator hotel and have owned the historic hotel
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since May 2012. They were no strangers to major renovations, having previously owned Dirty Nelly’s in Sydney’s Paddington district for 16 years, until they sold up in 2013. “We ran both of them for about a year and a half,” says Daniel. “We’d done a major renovation in that hotel as well, so we understood the process. Even back in those days it was very expensive. It’s even more expensive now. We knew it was going to take a significant sum, to be able to do what we wanted to do.”
ALL CHANGE What they’ve done to the 460 sqm heritage-listed hotel, established in 1862, is dug out a new cellar beneath the public bar, which now accommodates up to 40 kegs plus additional chiller space and new utilities equipment.
The 'Stables' dining area with bar and mezzanine space
DESIGN & BUILD While the public bar on ground level remained open throughout the renovations, it’s all change to the rear. The courtyard area was levelled, a new 75-inch outdoor screen has been installed, the rear restaurant dining space (The Stables) was re-created to remove the toilets previously in a corner of that space, to be replaced with a gleaming new bar. The look and feel for that space was easily drawn, says Bull: “The venue has a very rich history, and the fact that the rear portions of the site still had a scale adequate for horse entry to the ‘stable’ gave us plenty to work with. We loved the potential of these old stories and really aimed to amplify them and make them wonderful once again.” To the front, the gaming room has been completely modernised. Upstairs, the Nude bar (formerly a brothel in the late 1960s) has been left almost entirely intact, offering a private function space to customers. Back of house has also undergone major works. “It’s a whole new kitchen,” says Daniel. “It was a real challenge trying to maintain compliance in the old kitchen – it was an old weatherboard outhouse and we just couldn’t repair it any more, it was like an unravelling ball of string.” Outside, the multi-level courtyard is now stepfree, to become disability compliant and receive the DA. “I didn’t realise so many people would say how wonderful [it is] now that it’s all on one level,” says Daniel. “People with kids, pets. It was a bit of a goat track before. Some people might think the goat track is enchanting, but operationally it’s a waste of space.”
RUN DOWN TO ONE UP What else motivated the renovations? “We knew as soon as we bought it in 2012 that we needed to do some renovations to it,” says Daniel. “It was very run down in a lot of areas, and addressing one area meant addressing all the areas. It was just a question of timing and finance. It’s probably fair to say that my family acts fairly conservatively. We didn’t want to over-commit and jeopardise our position.” There were also issues both aesthetically and functionally, the Nissens admit. “No money had been spent on the pub in quite some time,” says Daniel, “so it really needed an injection of funds and a lot of areas were looking rather tired – the beer garden, the back of house was really tired, kind of falling down. The restaurant while quite inviting had the men’s toilet right in the middle of it.” Not only that, but the pub was suffering among intense competition in this built up suburb close to the Sydney CBD. “A lot of things around us were changing, so we knew we had to put something into it to bring it back up to today,” says Daniel. “You constantly have to be reinvesting, to upgrade the services you have, whether it be food, beverage, gaming, accommodation. To stay current, as well as to improve,” says Daniel. “We knew there were legs in some of the revenue streams that could increase. Even in the short time that we’ve relaunched, that’s already proven to be true. This hotel has always had a very strong reputation with food, and it remains to be that now.
“After the renovation, people have been flocking back in” – Zelman Nissen Photos credit: Guy Davies
The facade, essentially unchanged since 1862
Covered courtyard area
Two roasts are on offer each Sunday
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DESIGN & BUILD It was probably more regards to gaming and beverage that we wanted to increase the numbers,” says Daniel.
COMING TOGETHER The Nissens acknowledge the project was about three years from concept and planning to fruition. “It took us a while to find the right architect, the right builder and get the finances together. It takes longer than overnight,” says Daniel. To ease those numbers, the Nissens made the unusual decision to keep the public bar open throughout the renovations. “Having the bar open during renovations certainly allowed us to maintain an income and support some of our employees through that period,” says Daniel. “To be fair, it paid a good few wages. It may have been better for us to close for a period of time, shortening the period of the build, but as it turned out, when we tabled it with the builder and the architect… the impact was negligible and they didn’t have any concerns.” Though the gaming room and the public bar were still functioning through the refurb, the kitchen was much reduced. The Nissens introduced a scaled-down menu and turned to local businesses for support, and found them only too willing to come on board. “We were lucky, we approached a number of other businesses to help us with the food,” says Zelman.
Co-owners and brothers Zelman Nissen (left) and Daniel Nissen
THE COMMUNITY GATHERS “A food truck from an ex-employee would come down for big functions. Salt Meats Cheese helped us out for pub trivia nights,” says Zelman. “A sushi place helped out with functions and The Burger Project helped us out on occasion. That worked out really well for us and kept things ticking over. Some people want a bit of simplicity with the food and were quite happy to have a range of pizzas.” “The local people in the area, business people, it’s not for everyone [having a partly-closed pub], but some of them enjoyed the process, seeing the different phases it was going through,” says Daniel. “If I was going to repeat it somewhere else, and it wasn’t going to slow me down, I’d definitely do it again,” says Daniel. “It paid a good few bills while we were trading.”
NAME CHANGE Did the change of hotel name represent a significant change of direction to marry up with the major works? “[It was] The Australian Youth Inn when it was built in 1860 and first listed in 1862,” says Zelman. “Then it changed its name to ‘hotel’. Australia was in a very youthful time and that’s how it got its name. But as time progresses, the ‘youth’ didn’t do us a lot of favours. “A lot of people think – when they’re scouring the internet – that we’re just a youth hostel, very different from our actual offering. We wanted to position ourselves better in the community for today. This area [Glebe] has a lot of history, and this pub has a lot of history. We feel that The Glebe Hotel suits it and aligns us in the community.” That community is well-represented in the décor and spirit of the pub. A bespoke jacaranda mural by Sydney artist Indigo Jo adorns a wall on The Stables restaurant. Trophies have pride of place in the bar, representing those local clubs the hotel sponsors. “They can put their trophies up on the walls and make it feel more inclusive,” says Zelman. “Sydney Irish tag teams,
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The ground floor public bar remained open during renovations
Two roasts are on offer each Sunday
DESIGN & BUILD
DESIGN AND MATERIALS Sophie Harris, Associate with designers Alexander & Co, says: • A robust and tactile palette was used throughout in a negotiation of existing masculine bones, with the addition of playful feminine accents. • The Stables restaurant celebrates existing bricks in combination with pietra grey cobblestones, a zinc and black-wood bar and hand-painted painted timber doors. • The courtyard uses a patchwork of retained paving and accented floor finishes with washed timber furnishings. • The front bar retains the existing textured timber panelling and is freshened with highlighted paint details and honest furnishings.
Dubroyd FC, NSW uni hockey team. It’s about getting involved with clubs, they’re part of the community and they love coming back.”
CAPTURING THE PAST
Dining room with mural by Sydney artist Indigo Jo Public bar with commiissioned and historic photographs
Meanwhile the Nissens discovered old photographs from local 1970s photographer Leon Gregory of Glebe locals to adorn a seating area in the public bar. They also went further back. “We’ve got some dating back to the early 1900s,” says Zelman, “when there was a bit of a plague in Sydney and they took a lot of images before buildings were pulled down. This whole area was pretty much rebuilt. There’s actually an image down by the fireplace of the pub from 1906. “I’m scouring through hundreds of photos and see two kids with their billy carts. I look harder and see the pub, that’s us. The façade is exactly the same. Then there’s a Greek photographer, he’s really passionate about the suburb of Glebe, he lives here himself. He has a body called Welcome to Glebe and he takes photos of store owners and local people. We’ve put canvases up of some of those people and we had locals taking photos of locals. We wanted yesteryear but we also wanted today.” The Nissens are hoping to continue to attract a wide customer base of locals and local businesses. “We’re a public house, first and foremost,” says Daniel. “We welcome everyone that comes through the door. We’ve traded for sixplus years here now, we do cater for a lot of local businesses, strong lunch trade and early evening trade. We’ve tried to pick the weekends up with the local clubs.” “We’re really trying to give the business crowd a venue to come back to again,” says Zelman. “And they have been coming back. After the renovation, people have been flocking back in.”
BACK TO SUCCESS
Steak and Guinness pie
Both Nissens are clearly delighted with how the renovations have turned out. “The dining room, the beer garden and the food all come together,” says Daniel. “I couldn’t see it on the plans, but it really has tidied it very, very well. We’ve got that big [centenary fig] tree in the courtyard, all lit up with fairy lights in the evening, it just looks amazing to me. I think retaining those key historical elements, all that brickwork that’s in The Stables, getting rid of the men’s toilet and turning it into a bar, well lit, well-presented. Fireplaces are still in the pub, which is great.” Alexander & Co associate Sophie Harris agrees, saying: “The courtyard at dusk is easily my favourite spot. The simplicity yet effectiveness of warm fairy lights, softened landscaping and a few special vignettes create a functional, yet considered spot for a beautiful pub dinner.” “The gaming room came out amazingly well,” says Daniel. “So was every area that we’ve addressed. I’m incredibly happy with what’s been produced here. All the feedback from people who have come in thus far, they’re blown away. But don’t take my word for it – have a look for yourself.”
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SPORTS FIXTURES PACK IN THE PATRONS WITH THE SPORT ON LIVE AND LOUD. HERE ARE YOUR MAY HIGHLIGHTS FOR THE MONTH AHEAD, INCLUDING THE A-LEAGUE GRAND FINAL AND NHL STANLEY CUP.
The Grand Final regular season front-runners Perth could be in line to win their first ever A-League title while perennial powerhouses Sydney FC and Melbourne Victory will always be contenders. When: Sat 18 May or Sun 19 May, time and teams TBC Channel: Fox Sports and 10 Bold
May sees the Conference Semi-Finals and Finals play plus Game 1 of the best of seven NBA Finals. The NBA Finals continue into June. When: Wed 15 May Conference Finals, 11am. Fri 31 May NBA Finals, 11am Channel: ESPN HD
The hockey post-season concludes while the Stanley Cup Finals begin. The NHL Playoffs and Conference Finals bring your venue actionpacked live coverage throughout the month before the best of seven Stanley Cup Finals begin. When: Sat 11 May Conference Finals, 9am. Tue 28 May Stanley Cup Finals, 10am Channel: ESPN HD
Adelaide’s cross-city rivals go head-to-head on Saturday 11 May from 7:40pm, on a day when fans can catch five live games, including Carlton v Collingwood. The rest of the month is chock-full too. When: 17 May 8:10pm West Coast v Melbourne; all 18 May: 1:45pm Brisbane v Adelaide; 1:45pm Collingwood v St Kilda; 4:35pm Geelong v Bulldogs; 7:25pm North Melbourne v Sydney; 7:25pm Essendon v Fremantle; 19 May 3:20pm Richmond v Hawthorn; 24 May 7:50pm Sydney v Collingwood. Channels: Fox Sports, Fox Footy, Channel 7 and 7 Mate
NEXT MONTH The ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 gets underway 30 May with hosts England v South Africa, then Pakistan v West Indies 31 May. Australia’s title defence gets underway in June against Afghanistan. Over in Paris, Roland Garros French Open tennis takes place 26 May to 9 June on Fox Sports and SBS. When: ICC Cricket World Cup 30 May to 14 July and Roland Garros 26 May to 9 June Channel: Fox Cricket. Australia games, semi-finals and final, Fox Cricket and Channel 9 *All times are AEST
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TALES FROM THE TOP
SOUNDING OFF ABOUT LIVE ENTERTAINMENT Sharlene Harris
SHARLENE HARRIS IS ALH’S NATIONAL ENTERTAINMENT MANAGER AND A FORMER PUBLICAN. HERE, IN HER OWN WORDS AND LIGHTLY EDITED, SHE TELLS CRAIG HAWTIN-BUTCHER HOW THE GROUP APPROACHES THE CRUCIAL BUSINESS OF LIVE ENTERTAINMENT.
book all the entertainment for ALH across the whole country. Particularly the ticketed entertainment. We’ve got 370-plus venues around the country. All of them do something, but we probably book for between 85-100 venues. We’re so broad and diverse – some venues are doing comedy and doing really well, so we’ll bring in some bigger acts. Honeysuckle Hotel in Newcastle is a beautiful venue, one of our iconic venues, but it’s really a food and beverage footprint there. But we might do three or four special shows there a year, we just did Pete Murray. Anything from the 1980s is strong. It still brings a lot of people. Anything like Hoodoo Gurus, James Reyne, Diesel, The Angels, all that Aussie rock from that era. Still is very good, everywhere in the country, because [the audience] comes in, they usually have dinner, they go to the showroom so we get a great uplift all over our business for those sorts of acts. Comedy is actually going really well. From the old stalwarts of Kevin Bloody Wilson, we’ve got a bit of history with Rodney Rude to the new YouTube digital generation – acts like Jimi Jackson, Isaac Butterfield … There’s a whole host of them coming through. They’ve built their own profiles up – there’s times when we don’t even know who they are and have to research them. But we put them on and all of a sudden they’ve sold out shows. I spend most of my week talking. I feel like sometimes I don’t get much work done because that’s all I’m doing – talking to people. You hear about these acts – people are telling you who’s up and
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coming… It’s relationships, isn’t it? Which has always really been a pub thing. We’re a very small team and the venues are busy running their day-to-day business. Where we are starting to have closer relationships with local councils and regulatory bodies, we are building those foundations to do more together. But it’s a slow process. I was a publican for years myself. I think you have to define who you are, what you’re offering and what your customer looks like. Then you have to build your core business, make sure that’s strong and going in the direction you want it. Again always remembering that customer experience is key. Then you develop the entertainment offering to complement that business model. And be the absolute best at it. I think the common failing is if you don’t treat every time there’s a duo or a live band, DJ or whatever it is, as special, and get caught up in that weekly ‘oh, it’s time for trivia’. You’ve got to remember that your customers come here for a good time, usually, and treat it that way. Just try to remember that we’re bringing the party. Does live entertainment have a future in Australia? Absolutely it does. This could just be the passion showing, but I think this era of streaming rather than record sales, it’s more important than ever for acts to go out and do shows. That’s how they’re going to build an audience, earn a living, sell a lot of merchandise. Original Australian acts have this great live reputation in the international scene. That’s honed by that pub circuit, which we’re seeing a comeback for. There’s always going to be room for live music.
“DOES LIVE ENTERTAINMENT HAVE A FUTURE IN AUSTRALIA? ABSOLUTELY IT DOES.”