Business For Change with Scott Brandon from Bright Brewery

In Episode 2 of the POWcast we chat to the owner and founder of Bright Brewery – Scott Brandon. Scott has taken his love of adventure and passion for the environment and put them at the forefront of how he runs his business in the mountain town of Bright.

Bright Brewery is POW Australia’s longest running business partnership, working with POW to advocate for meaningful climate action within the ski industry. In this episode Scott demonstrates the power a business can have in building community and driving positive change.

Catch it on on Youtube:

In this episode, we discuss how Scott’s adventures overseas and upbringing has led to him putting sustainability front and centre of his life and of his business. He tells us why it was important for him to partner with POW and the concern he has for his community and the mountains and his business in the face of climate change.

We look at what Bright and surrounds are doing to become more sustainable and gain an interesting insight into community campaigns to reduce emissions. With philanthropy a core part of Bright Brewery, Scott tells us why he thinks it is important for a business to have an active role in the community and how it is achieved.

Scott also tells us the story of how he set up the brewery, from a small operation to becoming the Victorian institution it is today. He shares with us how Bright has changed over the years, how housing affordability is currently affecting the mountain town and how, as a business, Bright Brewery was instrumental in driving year-round visitation.

This episode is hosted by James Worsfold and Maya Shin

Music by Aleksey Chistilin from Pixabay

Listen on Spotify:

POWcast Episode 2 Transcript

James Worsfold: [00:00:00] This podcast was recorded on the lands of the Wurundjeri people in Melbourne. Welcome to the POWcast, a podcast from Protect Our Winters Australia, where we chat to people who live and breathe the mountains and are on a mission to protect them. I’m your host, James Worsfold, and I’m joined here today by mountain lover and POW volunteer, Maya Shin.

Maya, give us an overview of POW and your role within it.

Maya Shin: Yeah, thanks James. Uh, POW is an organization dedicated to educating, informing, and inspiring people to protect our winters. Uh, several branches around the world and we are from the Australian branch. Um, I joined POW a year ago, uh, due to my background in environmental science and joined with my passion for the mountains and snowboarding.

And it just made sense.

James Worsfold: Maya, you’re an environmental scientist who has focused on alpine regions. What are some things about the alpine environment [00:01:00] that inspires you?

Maya Shin: Australia’s alpine environment is one of the most unique ecosystems in the world and is used as an indicator in global reports for impacts on climate change.

It’s an extremely small percentage of the Australian environment and yet has such a diverse range of plants and animals that you literally can’t find anywhere else in Australia, let alone the world. So it’s just such a special place. It’s so beautiful in such harsh conditions. And it sees the extremes of cold winters with snow versus quite hot summers, you know, to see those two extremes as a species is really rare.

Um, and I just find so much beauty in it.

James Worsfold: Maya, you said that, uh, the Australian Alps are a bit of a global indicator of what’s happening in the mountains and how climate change has affected them. So it’s really a canary in the coal mine, the Australian ski season and the Australian Alps, which is why, uh, We here at POW Australia are fighting really hard to protect it.[00:02:00]

So here at POW, we’re building a broad coalition of individuals, of communities, and of businesses who have a stake in the ski season in the mountains and who all have something to lose with climate change.

Maya Shin: Yeah, businesses are run by individuals, but at a corporate scale or close to it. And when an individual running a business leans towards sustainability or better practices.

They can really inspire and have a huge impact on the community around them.

James Worsfold: And this is the story of our guest today. Scott Brandon, the owner of Bright Brewery, has put sustainability and community in the forefront. And I had a fascinating chat about the role of his business in effecting change in the community.

Maya Shin: Awesome. Let’s jump into it.

Scott Brandon: Okay. So, uh, my name is Scott Brandon. Um, I’m the owner of Bright Brewery. Um, what do I do? I do lots of things. Um, you know, uh, the brewery is a big part of our [00:03:00] life. Um, but you know, I’m also a mad keen skier, mountain biker, um, traveler, um, and, uh, uh, climbing in my past as

James Worsfold: well. So you’ve been owning and operating Bright Brewery for over 20 years.

What were you doing before that? And then how did you get to the point where you were like, Hey, I wanna start a brewery, ? Yeah,

Scott Brandon: sure. Um, yeah, look, I was, uh, I, I actually studied engineering at, uh, university. I did a mechanical engineering degree. Uh, I pretty quickly fell into a job, uh, working. in software development, uh, as a project manager there.

So, uh, the first, you know, 10, 15 years of my career were actually working in IT. Um, but, uh, and, uh, with that, you know, sitting in a computer typing away, uh, gets you after, it gets you pretty quickly actually. And, um, and so I [00:04:00] was constantly getting itchy feet, um, trying to get away on weekends, but then in the middle took a, took a few years off and, um, and, uh, Went to just, uh, be a ski bum in Canada for a couple of years.

And did you catch the bug? Caught the bug right there, yeah. And I think that was part of my plan, you know, I really wanted to, um, Uh, get a feel for that whole, um, That whole lifestyle of living in the snow, um, skiing pretty much as much as you possibly can. Uh, yeah. And also in Canada, you know, I’d, uh, over summer off the ski season, I’d started to dabble with a bit of mountaineering, um, you know, traveled up through Alaska, did some ice climbing, uh, those sorts of things.

And, and, uh, you know, really got to appreciate some of those big wild places. Um, yeah, came home with a whole new appreciation for, for what was out there.

James Worsfold: How did you put this appreciation into your [00:05:00] life in Australia and your life at Bright?

Scott Brandon: I’d always grown up with an, uh, awareness of the environment and, um, and, uh, you know, the, the need to act sustainably.

My, my parents were, you know, they had solar hot water systems and, you know, from way back in the day, the technology’s changed so much since then. But, um, you know, we, we grew up in a rural environment, um, down on the Mornington Peninsula and, uh, you know, it was, We’re just very close to the bush. Um, and I think with these travels, you know, you’d go to areas and you’d see, especially things like glaciers, how much they were already changing back in the 90s.

Um, you know, they were, well and truly receding. I remember my folks talking about climate change back in the 80s, you know, [00:06:00] when, when it was first started to, um, to be talked about. And, you know, a lot of it was really dismissed significantly back then. Um, But once I was traveling, and you actually see glaciers that, you know, where you can see where it had been, maybe 50 years ago, and now it had, it was way back up the valley, you know, and, and, uh, you know, in places like Europe, that was super obvious back then.

Um, and even, and now you go back and it’s just, uh, you know, the, the, um, Um, The amount that they’ve receded since the nineties is again, incredible. So, um, you know, I think I’ve always, uh, had it instilled in me that we need to be, try and be as considerate as we can to what we, what the impact is that we’re having on the earth, um, and try and minimize that any negative effects that we’re, we’re doing.

So, [00:07:00] you know, to me, it’s been painfully, uh, painfully slow, the uptake of all the awareness. Um, so, you know, and I guess when we see organizations like Protect Our Winters come along, that is trying to get it, that understanding more into the mainstream or more into a segment of, of the community that, You know, it doesn’t necessarily be aware of it, even though technically they should be if you’re a skier, you know It’s got to be pretty clear that our winters are getting shorter and and snow isn’t going as far down the mountain but I think so many people still just you know, they have short memories and they Don’t realize that, you know That what they’re doing every what what everybody is doing is having an impact on that You

James Worsfold: Bright Brewery is Protect Our Winters Australia’s longest standing partner.

Why was it important for your business to [00:08:00] partner with this organization?

Scott Brandon: Well, I think I’d, I’d been aware of Protect Our Winters before I was aware that there was an Australian arm to it. So I was aware of the organization in the U S um, I felt that what they were doing was really valuable. Um, and. And when I realized that there was somebody in Australia trying to get, um, this, um, off the ground, um, I thought, well, let’s see what we can do to try and support them.

So, um, that was probably around 2019, I think. And, um, and, uh, you know, so we, we reached out, um, it was, uh, you know, and actually, um, The idea, well we were just keen to support in any way, but what we ended up coming up with was a beer, um, our beer. Um, [00:09:00] unfortunately we went straight into, by the time we had it ready, it was 2020.

So we went straight into COVID and, uh, even though we had the beer, there wasn’t really many skiers to actually, or many people in the, in the resorts to actually drink it. And so we had that issue for 2020, 2021. Um, And then we really started to try and launch it again in 2022, 2023. So, um, yeah, it’s, it’s starting, we’re starting to get some traction with it.

Um, and, uh, you know, the idea with it really is to, uh, help raise awareness on the mountain or wherever we are serving that beer. So if people are buying the beer, you know, it’s another, uh, point of contact for them to be aware of Protect Our Winters and hopefully learn something about what Protect Our Winters is trying to achieve.

Um, but on top of [00:10:00] that we do take, um, a percentage of each of the sales of the beer and we contribute that back to Protect Our Winters Australia to, uh, try and, uh, further its cause, yeah.

James Worsfold: Well, while we’re at it, let’s do some shameless self promotion. The Bright Brewery POW Pale Ale. Tell us about it.

Scott Brandon: Uh, look, it’s just a, we wanted to make it really approachable.

So it’s just a nice easy drinking Pale Ale. Yeah, something that, uh, you know, we can hopefully get into as many venues around the ski fields as possible. Um, and that’s why we wanted to make it approachable and we want people to be buying that over something else. And so, um, look, last year it, um, we managed to get it into quite a few venues, especially around Mount Hotham and Falls Creek, um, which is our main region.

That’s our local region. So that’s the easiest for it to get into this year. I’d love to see it. [00:11:00] In more parts of the country, um, and, uh, it’s, it’s in cans and it’s on tap. So, you know, there’s plenty of opportunities for bars and I think it’s, it’s just such a great fit, um, for the, the, um, ski areas, uh, you know, that, uh, personally, I think any bar would be crazy not to put it on.

But it’s got a great story behind it too, you know, and, and, um, it, every, every beer that we do sell goes back. back into helping to support Protect Our Winters Australia.

James Worsfold: So POW Australia is growing and we are achieving more and more by the day. Where do you see this relationship going both with Bright Brewery, but also with other businesses?

Scott Brandon: Yeah. And that’s fantastic to see. It’s, it’s really great to see such a energetic, uh, young team coming, you know, taking that on and, and really trying to progress it. So, um, you know, I’m, I’m really looking forward to this year. I think there’s a great [00:12:00] opportunity to work together to really, um, build that awareness and, um, and hopefully it’ll inspire other businesses to come on board too, to help to support it.

James Worsfold: Obviously, individuals and businesses doing their bit to decarbonize and become more sustainable is important, but the largest amount of change can be made when people act collectively. What would you like to see communities such as Bright or businesses within the ski sector come together to do?

Scott Brandon: Yeah, look, uh, you, you’re spot on, you know, and, and certainly that’s one of the things I feel as the owner of, uh, business like Bright Brewery.

You know, we, we have a lot more capacity to make a difference as a business than I do as an individual, you know, and so that’s something that I’m, I’m really passionate about making sure we make the most of that. Um, and by extension, if you can then, [00:13:00] uh, you know, get your town on board with the same sort of thing, um, then you can have an even bigger impact.

Um, You know, I think the biggest changes come from policy change, um, by our governments, you know, so the best thing we really can do is vote, vote for people who are going to make a difference. Um, that should be the number one priority for everybody. Um, But certainly as a town, you know, we, we have an organisation, an organisation in Bright called Sustainable Upper Ovens.

Um, that I was involved in helping to get off the ground. Um, I’ve probably, eight or so years ago, I think. And, you know, that’s, that’s doing some really great initiatives around, um, uh, community batteries, um, uh, just, uh, improvements to, or upgrades to residential houses to make them more energy efficient, um, getting deals on hot water services by doing collective [00:14:00] purchasing arrangements, things like that.

So, um, that organisation has been, you know, things like that have been really great. get a community off the ground. Um, you know, we looked at Yackandandah, who has, uh, some incredible initiatives going on in their small town. Um, and, uh, the, yeah, it’s, they’re a testament to how much you can do as a, as a community.

Um, you know, Yackandandah, I think, I don’t remember the exact details, but I know that they You know, the big chunk of their energy is produced by solar. So, um, yeah, it could be, it could be even completely offset or something like that. You know, but it’s, it is phenomenal what they’ve managed to do and hopefully Bright can achieve the same sorts of outcomes.

James Worsfold: Bright as a community is adjacent to ski resorts and there are a lot of emissions associated with the operation, the operation and transport [00:15:00] to those. What would you like to see? your big neighbors do to reduce emissions?

Scott Brandon: Yeah. Uh, well, you know, I think, uh, aiming to go carbon neutral, I think is the biggest step.

And there are plenty of ski resorts all around the world that have actually achieved that. Um, and, and if anyone should be interested in doing that, it should be our ski resorts, you know, they have the most to lose from climate change. So, um, You know, it just astounds me that some of them seem to drag the chain so much.

Um, but also, you know, I think it’s important for ski resorts to, uh, try and broaden out their offering. And, uh, you know, that’s really what Bright has done over the last 20 years or so, is it has, um, moved away from being as [00:16:00] reliant on the ski industry as it. Might have been previously. Um, and, you know, we’ve now got other other types of activities to do in town.

Things like, you know, we’ve got a great mountain bike park there. Paragliding has been around for quite a while, but we’ve got the mountain bike park. We’ve got trail running is huge in Bright now. Um, gravel riding, all sorts of cycling, those sorts of activities. So, um, the town itself has really transitioned with that.

Um, And focused on building out the season with more events, um, through winter, that type of thing. So Bright has

James Worsfold: adapted to the green season, but if we do see a change to our winters, a halvening of the length in the next 20 or so years, will Bright still be impacted by that?

Scott Brandon: Um, yeah, look, I think we’re all going to be impacted by it for sure.

Um, And, uh, I guess the question is, is what do we try and do about it now? You know, [00:17:00]and, and, uh, and, you know, I think it’s important that we try and do as much as we can. I mean, we, we’d love to hang on to the, as much skiing as we can here. But the reality is, is that, you know, we’re heading in the direction where we’re going to lose significant parts of our, of our ski season.

Um, if not all of it. Um, you know, I’d hate, I’d hate to say that, but you know, um, it’s an unfortunate, um, likelihood, um, and it’s probably really just a question of how long it will take, not like when it will happen, not if it will happen, um, but, um, you know, I’m going to try damn hard as I can to try and make sure it doesn’t, um, you know, so I think that is, uh, yeah, look, we’re, we’re, we’re certainly, uh, planning, um, you know, For alternate, you know, an alternate industry.

Um, and you know, well down that path already.

Maya Shin: So James, Scott [00:18:00] touches on how Australian resorts should go carbon neutral and how ski resorts overseas have been able to achieve this Arapahoe basin in Colorado declared this year that they’ve achieved carbon neutrality ahead of schedule. Uh, they’ve done this through installing on site solar panels, investing in a community solar farm, electric vehicle charging points, and ensuring all operations run off clean energy.

James Worsfold: So a community solar farm, that’s basically a cooperative where community members are the shareholders. They own the energy and the profits go back to them. And Scott mentioned Yackandandah there. That’s a town that’s not too far from Falls Creek and Mount Hotham in Victoria. And, uh, That town is aiming to run off 100 percent renewable energy and they’re very close to reaching that target.

They’ve created a microgrid where they produce and store their own power through solar and batteries within the community. And the microgrid has the added benefit of keeping the town going if a bushfire cuts them off from the rest of the world. The government is willing to fund these projects. All it takes is a bit of initiative from the community.

[00:19:00] This presents a massive opportunity for ski resorts to take the lead, to invest in local communities, and get similar projects up and running in order to achieve carbon neutrality.

Maya Shin: Yeah, what Yackandandah achieved is such a positive example of what other communities in Australia, as well as ski resorts can achieve.

And it’s exactly the model that Arapahoe Basin followed.

James Worsfold: So sustainability is at the centre of Bright Brewery. Could you tell me more about other initiatives that you have worked on? Yeah,

Scott Brandon: sure. So yeah, look, we, um, brewing is a fairly, energy intensive industry. Um, so one of the first things we did, uh, in our, when we built our restaurant and, um, and brewery was, um, install a 50 kilowatt solar system on that.

Um, and Over the years we’ve, um, put a lot of focus on [00:20:00] getting very efficient, more efficient equipment. So, um, the original brewery that we started with was a second hand one, um, and, but it was quite inefficient. So, we upgraded that to a more modern state of the art, um, brew house, um, partly in, in conjunction with increasing our volumes as well.

Um, and that allowed us to just use much less energy for each, for the each volume of beer that we’re producing. Um, and then, uh, we’ve since also built, um, moved all of our production into a dedicated production, uh, facility, also in Bright. Um, and on there we’ve installed 172, uh, kilowatts of solar. Um, And we’ve also, with that, managed to get an arrangement with Momentum Energy, where we can load share that between the venue and the brewery.

So, all of the extra energy that we’re producing at the production brewery can be [00:21:00] used by our kitchen or, um, whatever is running at the venue, which is actually much more energy intensive than, um, than the brewing process. So, it’s a great, uh, sort of a real benefit. to be able to do that, um, and makes it viable to actually, you know, make that commitment of installing all that solar out there.

So we, we produce way more electricity than we actually use at the moment.

James Worsfold: And we talked about Sustainable Upper Ovens. Other businesses in the area, are they also taking similar

Scott Brandon: measures? Uh, a lot of them are, um, you know, especially the more energy intensive ones. Um, I know the, the local laundry have got a huge solar array on theirs, on, on their, on their building.

Um, uh, it is something that we try and really advocate. I, I think a lot of it really does come from that. Bright is actually the [00:22:00] perfect location for solar energy because it’s, um, we, we get So many sunny days. I think we get more sunny days than Sydney does. Right, I would not have expected that. No, and it’s just because it’s on the north side of the Great Dividing Range.

So, you know, so for example, today, driving up here, uh, driving down here to Melbourne, I left Bright, it was a clear blue sunny day and arrived in Melbourne and it’s, you know, overcast and even raining. So, and that’s pretty typical, you know, like, um, I did the same thing last week. Um, the same. thing happen, you know, it’s sunny and bright cloudy here.

So we get a lot of sunshine. Um, and so it makes sense to really utilize that even through winter, we’ll get, um, cold days, but sunny days. So it’s solar is perfect. Um, wind not, you know, it’s pretty useless. We don’t, we get almost no wind there. Um, very, very intermittent. Um, so, uh, yeah, solar makes perfect sense for [00:23:00] us.


James Worsfold: Uh, you said that you try to advocate within the community. What is the power of a business within a community? What, what can a business achieve within its own community?

Scott Brandon: Look, I think, um, a key business in a community can actually be like a thought leader, um, and lead the way. Like if, if a business like.

is not doing what we do and I guess setting that, um, that bar, then, you know, it’s going to be hard to convince other people that they should be doing something. So, you know, if, if I feel that we kind of want to lead by example, you know, what sort of corporate citizens do we want to be and what do we need to do to, you know, show, show people how it’s done.

And, you know, hopefully that’ll inspire other businesses to do it as [00:24:00] well. Um, we’re quite involved with the chamber of commerce, always have been, um, you know, and, um, you know, we’ll push for things like renewable renewables, but also even just things like, um, uh, you know, cycle, cycle infrastructure through the town.

Um, you know, that’s one of our big things at the moment. We’ve got a fantastic rail trail running through town, but we’d love to see more bike paths through the town center itself and by parking and things like that, you know, like Bright’s not a big town. It’s, it’s so easy to get around by riding a bike.

It’s mostly flat, especially in the middle of town. Um, and it would just make a lot of sense to have really thorough infrastructure there for cycling.

James Worsfold: Yeah, the Climate Council recently released their Seize the Decade report where they said that, uh, transport emissions could be reduced by half if there’s a 30 percent shift to [00:25:00] shared and active transport.

So that’s like public transport, but also walking and riding. So to do that, we need to convince a lot of people to, to bike to where they need to go to get back to work, to back to the shops. What are some arguments for

Scott Brandon: that? Well, I think the first thing you need to do to achieve that is actually make it, um, easier for people to do it, right?

Like if, if you, if you put in, if you have more, if you replace car parking spaces with bicycle parking, you can get half a dozen bike parks in one car parking space. Um, and so then you, You’re incentivising people to ride a bike rather than drive their car somewhere. You know, if, if they, if they feel like it’s going to be easier to just ride in, do their shopping, go to the cafe, whatever they need to do, and then ride home.

Or do they drive in, have trouble finding a car park, like most [00:26:00] people do, and then, and then get frustrated. And, you know, like, there are ways to do it where you can actually make it, with, with Planning and infrastructure make it easier for people to go down that path of, um, of choosing that, those, those sorts of options.

Um, and also, electrification makes everything a lot easier to achieve these days too. You know, electric bikes, scooters, all those types of transport are, um, I think it can be game changers. You know, you can still have the comfort and, um, ease of, you know, moving around, but without having to have a two ton, um, steel box around you.

James Worsfold: A lot of people in Australia are used to taking the car everywhere. So that’s a level of comfort that takes a bit of convincing to leave behind. Um, but once a lot of people adopt these habits, it’s hard to go back.

Scott Brandon: Yeah. And I think it’s also [00:27:00] just a, healthier lifestyle choice as well, you know, so you’re kind of getting all the benefits

James Worsfold: from it.

Brat Brewery is championing sustainability within the community. What’s about fostering community spirit and supporting adventure? What does the brewery do in terms of that?

Scott Brandon: Yeah. Okay. So, well, you know, I, I guess because that’s always been one of my passions is the outdoors and making sure that you get out and about.

We have a lot of staff working in our hospitality, but also in the brewery and so on. We have usually around 80 or so staff, even more than that sometimes over summer. And, uh, really important to us is that they get to experience the same work life balance that I moved to Bright for, right? Um, it seemed a bit, uh, ingenuous, disingenuous, uh, to, to expect staff to [00:28:00] work crazy long hours or anything like that.

If the whole reason for living in a place like Bright is so that you can actually have that work life balance. So, um, right from the start, we, we’ve been really, um, clear with everyone who work comes to work for us that we expect them if they’re full time, They do a 38 hour week. Um, if they, if they happen to do any hours that go over that, we always give them time off in lieu.

And, and once they get to a point where they’ve accrued, you know, what we consider too much, we’ll make them take time off. Say, Nup, you’ve been working too hard. Go and take some time off. Go mount biking or whatever. Um, and as a result, you know, I think we find that we’ve got, I think we’ve got a really much happier workforce.

Um, you know people that work at the brewery, they know they’re going to get time off. They know they’re going to be able to plan to go and do all the activities they love. And so, you know, I look at the crew that we’ve got [00:29:00] now and we’ve got, you know, we’ve got some incredible athletes in there. Um, we’ve got, um Sam, who works in our kitchen, she’s a, she’s an Everest mountaineer.

Um, she does work flat out through the summer because she actually, you know, we have a special arrangement with her where she can accrue all the extra leave and then she’ll take that and take three months off over winter to go mountaineering in Kazakhstan or, you know, to do an adventure mountain bike.

Um, uh, you know. across India or something like that. And, and so, you know, it’s all about finding a lifestyle that works for the people that are in the business. Um, but everyone gets to experience that. It’s not like there’s some that are working 60 hours a week and, you know, they’ve just got the nose for the grindstone, the grindstone all the time.

They’re, it’s really important to us that everyone gets that work life balance.

James Worsfold: So that’s how you foster. within your organization? What [00:30:00] about outside in the wider, brighter region?

Scott Brandon: Yeah, um, that’s a good question. I think, I mean, that comes down to the, um, the, the, the involvement we have with things like the Chamber of Commerce, but we also do, uh, a few initiatives like, uh, um, we have, um, a community keg, uh, so once a month, um, we will take applications from community organizations where, uh, we’ll donate a keg to their organization.

Um, we sell it across the bar and people can pay whatever they want to for a beer from that keg. Um, and all the proceeds from that, um, 100 percent of the proceeds from that go back to that organisation. So, uh, you know, somebody could come and say I just want a beer and I don’t want to pay for it. I get a free beer.

[00:31:00] But, you know, most people will pay whatever they want to contribute to that organisation for the beers they’re having. So yeah, that actually raises, um, that can raise over 1, 000. Uh, from a, from a night with the, with that. So it all comes down to that organisation and how they want to run it, I guess. Um, but yeah, you know, we’ve supported local SES through that, a whole lot of different community sporting groups.

Um, and even just, uh, you know, uh, yeah. All sorts of different community groups through that. So that’s one way we’re doing that too. Yeah.

James Worsfold: Let’s rewind and talk through how you managed to set up a brewery.

Scott Brandon: Yeah, right. Um, so we moved to Bright in

  1. Um, [00:32:00] And, uh, I guess at the time I was a little bit over working in IT. I was, I still was doing it, you know, we moved there because I could work remotely. Um, I could, you know, spend a couple of weeks developing some software, pop down to Melbourne for a couple of days, meet with clients, you know, and then go back and do a few more weeks work.

And so that, uh, that um, working remotely kind of suited that quite well. And, you know, I could go for a mountain bike ride at lunchtime or a ski in the morning or something like that. So I thought that was fantastic, but, um, working in IT, you’re, you’re really working from home and you don’t really get to know that many people in the community.

And we wanted to do that. So, um, looking around at other options at the time, the, the town didn’t really have a lot to offer as far as, uh, local produce was concerned. Um, You know, there’s, there’s your classic tourist type shops, um, but there wasn’t really a lot else. And [00:33:00] so we thought, well, let’s bring in all the local produce from this area.

We had Miller cheeses in, we’ll get the wines from the King Valley, you know, we’ll, we’ll have a little shop, a cafe. Um, we’ll get some good coffee from Melbourne and we’ll do a cafe with local produce. And that was our first foray into hospitality and tourism. Um, and around the same time, some friends of mine, uh, some friends of ours moved into town as well.

And, uh, my mate was a home brewer. So we started home brewing together and that’s really how the idea of the brewery popped up. So as a result of that, uh, I went, all right, I think we should start a brewery. So we, yeah, that was probably around 2004, 2005. Um, by the end of 2005, we had, uh, We were making some beer at another brewery and just selling it under the brand, Bright Brewery, [00:34:00] um, to kind of test the market.

And, um, felt that that went well and then, uh, yeah, we just bit the bullet and decided to, Jump in head first and, and, um, get a brewery off the ground. So, uh, we pretty much spent all of our savings buying the block of land that the brewery sits on at the moment, because we, we found that that was available and we thought, Oh, this is such an awesome location.

Uh, we have to, we have to have this. So we scraped everything together to buy the block of land. But then of course we had, uh, we had no money left to build anything on it. Um, we, we initially just put on a. Uh, rough and ready tin shed, just big enough to cram all the brewing equipment in. So we had this brewing equipment in a tin shed, on a private block of land in the middle of Bright, um, with an outdoor beer garden that overlooked the park.

Um, and, you know, it’s, it’s hard to sort of imagine now because Bright is such a, such a thriving tourist town. [00:35:00] But 20 years ago, it really wasn’t, you know, it had its busy times, but most of the year is actually pretty quiet little town. And so, you know, what we were doing then was quite out of the ordinary and, and we had a lot of downtime from a tourism perspective as well.

And so, you know, I guess over the years you just keep on reinvesting back into the business, um, really working on. trying to drive and improve the tourism offering. So working with our local tourism authorities like Tourism North East, local council, um, the Victorian tourism industry and, um, and trying to create events and things for people to do in town so that we could build up that year round visitation, you know, so things like the mountain bike park, you know, um, we’re really involved in getting that off the ground in the, in the early days as well.

Um, [00:36:00] and that has, that’s one of those things where it does lead to year round tourism, you know, people, people go mountain biking on a 35 degree day, or they’ll go, Mountain biking in the pouring rain on a five degree day, you know, when you, when you’re on a mountain bike, you really don’t care where you care a bit, but you know, like it’s still fun.

It’s fun when it’s muddy. It’s fun when it’s dusty as it’s just, yeah, it’s just a hoot. So, um, you know, that’s been one of those things that’s really helped build that year around visitation, that nice steady, um, uh, tourism. offering that allows us to keep people employed, right? And we want to try and, you know, maximize the number of permanent staff that we have.

Um, you know, so people can have a proper job that they can live in the town for. Um, and, and so the more we can build out that, um, [00:37:00] tourism market and make it consistently. Um, the better that is for the sustainability of our staffing and, uh, you know, the business as a whole. So that, that’s been a really important part to us.

Um, one of the big challenges over the last year, last few years since COVID and, you know, so many people selling their houses in Melbourne and moving to Bright is we’ve had a real issue with affordable housing. Um, you know, for, for key workers like our staff and, and, but also, you know, nurses and teachers and, and all of those people, you know, are really struggling to find housing in Bright.

So, you know, one, one of the, that, that’s one of the things we’ve been really focused on for the last few years is what do we need to do and how do we create more affordable housing in the town so that the people who actually need to work there have got somewhere to live. Um. And, you know, I don’t think there’s any easy [00:38:00] solution to that, but it’s something that we’re, we’re certainly working on.

What ideas do you have? We are working with council to try and get, uh, a better planning strategy that encourages more affordable housing. You know, a lot of the new houses that are going in a sort of three bedroom houses on a nice big block of land, because they think that that’s what everyone who’s got a family wants.

The problem is, is Not all the people who live in town are families with two or three kids. You know, they might be, they might be single, they might be elderly, they might be a young couple. Um, you know, so there’s, there’s actually, I believe, quite a high demand for, um, You know, low maintenance townhouse type accommodation and, but that’s just not what’s getting built.

So we’re trying to work with council to get some planning schemes in place that help to encourage that type of thing.

James Worsfold: Yeah. Well, we often expect our places have backyards. A place like [00:39:00]Bright’s is abundant with green spaces. Yeah, the outdoors, your backyard. Yeah, yeah. You’re not going to spend all your time sitting in your backyard.

You want to go And

Scott Brandon: in fact, most people don’t even want a backyard. Well, not most, a lot of people don’t want a backyard because that’s something else they have to look after, which takes away from their activity time. You know, like it’s in many ways, it’s much easier if you don’t have too much of a, Too much to look after around the house because then you can spend more time hiking and skiing and mountain biking.

Well, I, I actually think it’s a good thing that, you know, people are making that tree change to places like Bright, you know, that they’re selling up in Melbourne and they’re choosing to live, uh, you know, they, they’ve decided they can work remotely and they’re choosing to live in a place where they can, enjoy that lifestyle.

I think, you know, more and more people should be doing that. Um, the challenge is finding a solution where we make sure that there’s still affordable housing in the town for everyone who needs to [00:40:00] live and work there, right? And I think one of the main problems we’ve had is that it over COVID it just happened so quickly.

It happened and We were kind of caught short with the housing that we did have because, you know, people are selling their valuable house in Melbourne and buying a house in Bright, which is, you know, a fraction of the, of the, or was a fraction of the cost. And so what’s happened is the prices in Bright have gone from being country town prices to Melbourne prices in the space of two years.

Um, and uh, you know, and that just puts so much pressure on. The people who, uh, need the, need more affordable housing. Um, and, and I think, you know, I’d, I’d love to see it head that way, but we need to plan for that. You know, we need councils and, um, government to be planning to You know, grow these regional centers.

James Worsfold: Actually, I am curious to ask [00:41:00] about the greater investment in the green season and doing things outside of winter. Was that driven by business? Was driven by government? How did that take shape?

Scott Brandon: Really, that was driven by us. You know, we, we realized that we, um, needed a whole lot of stuff for summer and then we’d struggle to, you know, make a dollar over.

The off seasons, you know, any at the time, February is an off season, you know, just the whole month of February was dead. Like literally no one in town. Um, and so, you know, we’re trying to run a business and we’re like, well, we need, we need people coming here. We need to, you know, and so we’d start to talk to council and say, look, um, And Bright’s the sort of place where, if it’s school holidays or it’s a long weekend, or Easter or something like that, it’s always going to be busy.

You don’t need to have an event on in town. People will come because, because it’s further away, [00:42:00] people just need those few extra days so that they can travel. Um, and so, You know, we’re like, all right, we, if we’re going to have an event, we want to have it either, you know, in these downtimes, because then at least we’ll have some business and it won’t be detracting from the other busy times.

Um, so, you know, we’d have a few people come to us and they’re like, oh, we want to run a film festival. We’re like, great, do you want to run it in February? And they’re like, yeah, okay, we’ll do that. Um, and so we’re like, perfect. Cool, something in February. And so suddenly we get all this business on a weekend in February when otherwise it would have been completely dead.

So like, Oh, well, so what we really should be doing is looking at all the gaps in our calendar and trying to get things to fill those up, right. And, um, And it’s just sort of evolved from there. And now we’re actually, these days we’re talking to council and we’re saying, look, if you’ve got somebody and they’re saying they want to run a big event on the, [00:43:00] you know, Labor Day, Long Weekend, or something like that, you should be telling them, NO.

You know like, Tell them, if you want to run that event, you have to do it on, this other, you know, pick another weekend but you can’t do it that weekend. Especially if they want to use council property. So, we are sort of, we are trying to like, build a, this whole strategic plan around what the tourism offering looks like in Bright and what can happen when, because um Like it is great to have these big events and sometimes they do need to be on a long weekend or something like that, but if you can avoid it, it just makes such a much more economic difference to the town, which means that everything can run more smoothly.

Um, you know, we want to get this nice consistent visitation. Um, and that also leads into, you know, having a larger permanent population. You know, if we do have people who can work remotely living in the town, then we’ve got. We’ve got more of a permanent population [00:44:00] that are spending their money in town as well and that supports the businesses year round, not just on those busy weekends.

So that, that’s sort of part of our grand vision, I guess, is to, um, you know, make it a more sustainably economical town. Um, because, uh, you know, when, when 20 years ago, um, a lot of the businesses were, they’re really, just hanging on by a thread. You know, they, they depend so heavily on those, um, super busy times when to be honest, they actually really couldn’t handle all the people that were there.

Um, and, and then they just sort of drift through the rest of the year with, you know, looking forward to the next big payday when that busy time would come around again, the problem with that is then you throw a bushfire in there or something like that, and suddenly you lose all of that. So that was, you know, we also started at a time when every three years there was a [00:45:00] significant bushfire in the area.

So, you know, we pretty quickly realised that you really want to, the more you can spread that out, the more you can have people coming year round, the less impact those sorts of events. And, you know, bushfires are a classic climate change, um, uh, enhanced event. So, you know, we really need to be mindful of how we manage.

Those sorts of risks. Um, uh, because you know, if, if, if you’re not surviving economically, then it’s very difficult to do anything sustainable, right? And the stronger businesses are more, the more, um, the more capability it has to actually act in a responsible, sustainable manner.

James Worsfold: Right. That’s very powerful hearing that a business can lead that change.

Ends. can show that this could also occur in terms of sustainability and climate action. Thanks for joining POW today, Scott.

Scott Brandon: Thanks for having me, James. It’s been an absolute pleasure and, um, [00:46:00]really appreciate the opportunity to have a bit of a chat about, yeah, what we’re trying to achieve and, and, uh, how we want to work with POW.

Maya Shin: That was such an interesting insight from Scott, especially having lived in Harrietville for a summer and seeing how incredibly busy the region got every weekend. It’s pretty incredible that Bright Brewery was essentially the driver of that change and in doing so were able to grow their business and contribute to themselves and the town becoming more sustainable.

James Worsfold: Yeah, you’re right. Businesses can have a huge role in driving change. If they have the right values at the core, they can use their power and influence to push for lasting action on climate change. Now, the ski sector is facing a huge threat, but with the right amount of foresight and willingness to do so, businesses across the Alps have the capacity to drive change the way Bright Brewery has.

Maya Shin: POW wants to continue partnering with businesses like Bright Brewery to create a coalition of collective action that will drive change both within communities and [00:47:00]government policies. It is important that this action is meaningful and not superficial greenwashing, because the environment isn’t an afterthought, it should be at the forefront of the ethos of businesses operating in the Australian Alps.

James Worsfold: And as lovers of the outdoors, we often need a lot of gear to do the things we love, which is why we need to buy less and buy well, choosing quality over frequent consumption. And we want to partner with businesses that share these values and reinvest in the community. All right, that’s all from us today.

Make sure to subscribe to the podcast. If you want to support us, our memberships are now live and come with a wide range of perks, and they’re a great way for you to get in on the mission to protect our winters. Or, if you’re feeling thirsty, go get yourself a POW Pale Ale from Bright Brewery.

Maya Shin: Thanks everyone, and stay stoked.