In 2014, Macarthur Grange Brewery was on the brink of building a brewery in Goulburn – and the world’s largest beer bottle at the city’s entrance.
The 30-metre high bottle would knock out Denmark’s 25-metre beer bottle and “make a statement” alongside Goulburn’s Big Merino, Macarthur Grange Brewery director Anton Szpitalak told ABC at the time.
It was a larger-than-life idea that even the company’s directors weren’t sure they could pull off.
Fast-forward to 2021, and the company is now operating as Tribe Breweries and has opened its $35 million Goulburn facility. However, plans to build the giant beer bottle have fizzled.
So what happened?
Region Media catches up with Anton, who remains at the company’s helm as Tribe Breweries CEO.
He promises it wasn’t simply a public relations exercise, which could be easy to assume given news of the giant beer bottle made national headlines.
“We’d actually lodged the paperwork for a development application (DA) and started consulting with the community,” says Anton.
The idea had originally been floated by Anton’s father during a meeting with Goulburn Mulwaree Council about the plans for the brewery.
“It was early days and out of nowhere my father said we wanted to build the world’s largest beer bottle,” says Anton.
“I was a bit taken aback, but we’re a family business and we don’t take life too seriously. So we said, ‘OK, let’s explore the idea.’
“We were working on the DA for the brewery so decided to do the extra work for the beer bottle – the engineering, the drawings and mockups. It was kind of a crazy plan but we had a crack at it.”
While some people in the community thought the beer bottle would be good for tourism, others thought it would send the wrong message about the city.
These murmurings coupled with a major expansion for the brewery meant plans for the beer bottle were put aside.
“We were at the point with the DA where we needed to respond to the community, but we knew it wasn’t going to make our final plans so we withdraw the application,” says Anton.
“Every now and then I see the plans and have a laugh. It was massive, we were young craft brewers and loved making cool things. It was just a bit of fun.”
As for whether plans for the giant beer bottle could ever be put back on the table…
“I’ve learnt in this world, you never say never,” says Anton. “I thought it was a pretty fun idea and I look at the Big Merino when I visit the brewery and always see people getting their photo taken in front of it.
“It’s not in our plans today, but you never know.”