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Callum Reeves, Chief Boss of South East Brewing Company

Callum Reeves, Chief Boss of South East Brewing Company

Published by Leonardo Calcagno

Who are you and what is your background? 

I’m Callum Reeves, and I’m a serial booze tragic. After being bored out of mind for several years in the market research industry I made the financially terrible decision to move to something I love: wine! After seven years as a wine expert and sales rep, I found that I was loving craft beer more, so I started heading down that road.

Your job and current title?

I’m Chief Boss of South East Brewing Company Pty Ltd, makers of KAIJU! Beer and Golden Axe Cider. It’s the equivalent position to CEO or Managing Director (sometimes I write that on more serious documents!).

In what city? 

We’re in an industrial suburb called Dandenong South in the outer East of Melbourne, Australia

A word to define what type of worker you are:


Where does your interest in microbrewery come from?

Back when beers were mostly just fizzy yellow water I wasn’t interested, but as I became more interested in more premium food and beverages, I was blown away by a couple of good, hoppy beers I tasted in Australia. Hop Head Red from Green Flash stands out in my mind. My brother, Nat, was also loving this style of beer, but we couldn’t find enough hoppy beers in Australia 10 years ago, so Nat started brewing his own and doing a great job of it. My love for hoppy beers only grew from there.

What makes your beer unique? Why?

We made what were probably the hoppiest beers in Australia when we first started out. We were one of the first in Australia to really chase that big American-style hop profile. We continue to deliver beers where the hops and aroma dominate, but now we make everything from an American-style Pilsner, to a Tropical Pale, right up to a massive 10% Double India Black Ale. Several of our beers are among the highest rated Australian beers on RateBeer.

What is the size of the brewery (number of barrels per year, etc.)?

25HL brewhouse, we’ll do about 8,000 barrels this year.

What tools are essential to your life (app, software)?

Gmail app and WebClient, Excel, G Suite, Adobe Illustrator, Slack

What does your office space look like?

Cramped, messy, poorly lit.

Do you have a way to organize your days to optimize your work?

I have two small children and my wife is CEO of a computer games company, so with our ridiculously busy lives, we just work whenever and wherever we are when we can. I might make some calls on the way to the brewery after dropping the kids to school, then try to catch up on my emails and brewery operations in the morning and work on major projects in the afternoon.

Any “tips” to improve productivity?

I use my Gmail inbox as my to-do list. After trying several different productivity methods and software, this is what works for me. Also, I offload as much work as possible to the amazing staff I work with. They are much more effective workers than me.

Can you give us a tour of your local craft beer brewery scene?

The scene has grown exponentially since we started out in 2012. There are now nearly 200 breweries in our state. It’s quite a comprehensive spectrum of tiny brewed on-site bars through sour and farmhouse specialists and on up to juggernaut startups with $20m+ budgets. Certainly flavored beers are trending right now, as well as the hazy, brut and milkshake styles.

How do you control the growth of your microbrewery?

We try to do as much future-proofing as we can afford. So when we are designing for an upgrade, we try to look at where we can spend a little more to save a lot when we grow in the future. Even with that strategy, we have struggled to keep up with growth in demand, but we have managed it pretty well. We also ensure that any growth will not have a negative impact on quality, and constantly strive for better tasting, fresher-longer beers

What is your strategy for making your beer known? (tastings, festival, etc.) Why this strategy?

We use a mix of face to face tastings, festivals, etc, as well as above and below the line advertising. We also like to cultivate the best team of brand ambassadors possible.

About design, what does your brand represent/reflect? (Can you tell us about the message and reflection behind the design?)

We have always wanted our brand to eschew the male-dominated status quo, and we are proud to have been pioneers in making the artwork on beer as important as the product inside. We want our packaging to have an inclusive, fun appeal, that plays a little to a nostalgia element for KAIJU! drinkers.

Design: how was it designed? By who?

My wife had loved the work of Mikey Burton for a while and suggested we approach him to design our first product. It was completely out of the box and unlike anything else in Australia at the time, and we haven’t looked back. We use Mikey exclusively for our packaging design now.

What inspires you and motivates you to go to work every day?

The awesome people I have the privilege to work with. I’d go to work just to hang out with them even if I wasn’t getting paid (I wasn’t for a long time!). I’m also keen to be a good role model for my kids.

What is the best advice given to you?

Balance your work and family life.

What are your end and start routines?

I don’t write computer code.

What were your biggest challenges as an entrepreneur?

Several years without pay and a young family was hard, but we managed. Having to do so many different roles was a steep learning curve, but super valuable because I now know all the different parts of the business with considerable depth.

What advice would you give someone who wants to start a brewery?

Only start a brewery if you can genuinely add something to the beer conversation and the beer industry. You need to have something unique to offer or you will be doomed to struggle. The market doesn’t need another Pale Ale, IPA or basic lager, and a new entrant only drives the rest of the industry down, due to the downward pressure on prices that results.

 Apart from your computer and your phone, what gadget cannot you do without?

Airpods, and Bose Quiet Comfort Headphones have become indispensable for long haul flights.

Any new projects coming soon? (eg products, etc.)

Our Mutation Program is just starting out and our brewers are loving the challenge of making brand new, and experimental beers on a one-off basis

At the end of the day, what kind of beer do you drink to relax?

There’s nothing better than the first beer at the end of the day, particularly on a Friday. Fresh is best, so whatever has come off the canning line that day. I usually prefer either a KAIJU KRUSH! Tropical Pale or a Paradise Pils for a refreshing hop blast to start the evening off right. |