For our second episode of Legally Consumed, our CIE Legal co-hosts sat down with Travis Nott and Anthony Dinoto, co-founders of Bonehead Brewing in their taphouse and brewery.
Bonehead Brewing is an independent brewery started in 2016 and located in a former mechanics’ workshop in Kensington previously owned by Anthony’s grandfather. The up-and-coming brewery is known for its excellent beers and provides options for everyone, from simple lagers to crafty and experimental sours.
In this episode of our consumer products podcast, Anthony and Travis explain the intricacies of starting a commercial brewery and manoeuvring through state-to-state regulations of marketing and sales of alcohol. The co-founders also highlight the importance of understanding the consumer’s purchase path when choosing a beer and how understanding consumer behaviour helps guide their flavour and packaging decisions.
Starting a brewery
In early 2016, after being avid beer lovers and competitive homebrewing for more than a decade, Travis and Anthony decided to start scaling up from their original low-budget backyard brewhouse. The goal when opening their business was simple, try to do the most with the limited amount of funds that they had available. After hitting a few stumbling blocks including a cease and desist letter, the pair realised that they’d be broke within a few months if they didn’t go all-in and get as much stainless steel as possible to produce as much beer as they could with the money they had available.
Neither of them had any prior experience in commercial breweries prior to starting Bonehead, but by a stroke of luck, one of their neighbours was preparing to open a brewery that was a comparable size. As an engineer, he provided valuable advice on where to purchase and how to assemble the equipment they required. After recounting their story of opening the brewery, the pair noted that the process of starting and running a commercial albeit a small one, was a lot harder than they initially envisioned. In the end, it came down to making the right decisions and buying the right equipment from the right suppliers and this is how they were able to stay within their budget.
Understanding Consumer behaviour
When producing a consumer product, Travis and Anthony think the most vital point to consider is consumers’ behaviour and purchasing habits in your product category. The consumer market for beer has evolved and case studies have found that beer drinkers are increasingly seeking new tastes and showing a willingness to pay for higher-quality products and even going as far as not drinking the same beer twice. In the episode, Anthony and Travis observed that consumers going to local bottle shops generally aren’t buying based on price point but rather brand awareness generated from marketing influences, including packaging.
Keeping this information in mind and to help the brand stand out from the competition, the Boneheads decided to do something a bit different. While continuing to produce their core range, the brewery puts out a new beer or a limited release around once every two weeks. With their diverse portfolio of beers, the brewery’s founders listed quality, approachability and ‘sessionability’ as the three features that they strive to incorporate into every beer they produce. They found that if the product itself isn’t high-quality – no matter how good the packaging or other features are that help your brand stand out, consumers won’t keep buying your products. Striking a balance between playing with new flavours and simultaneously staying true to their roots has been the secret ingredient to their success.
Navigating the Regulations around marketing and sales of Alcohol
The advertising and sale of alcohol is highly regulated with each state and territory having their own liquor licensing laws and regimes. Producers and sellers of alcohol such as Bonehead Brewing face numerous requirements that can be difficult to navigate. In the episode, Travis explains that the governing body in Victoria for the production and sale of alcohol is excellent at providing information and helping businesses meet the necessary requirements.
When it comes to regulations, the pair mention that their biggest problem is the laws related to the packaging of alcoholic beverages as you can’t be seen to be promoting your products to minors. Competitors have previously come under fire for using packaging that strongly resembled Milo, a popular chocolate beverage predominantly consumed by children. The Bonehead founders explain that it’s a tough line as everything appeals to kids in some way or another. Recently, the Alcoholic Beverages Advertising Code (ABAC) has highlighted the use of ‘nostalgic imagery’ that appeals to adults based on their childhood memories as a breach of their standards. This is due to the fact that they often continue to be popular with the current generation of minors.
Get in touch
To find out more about Travis Nott, Anthony Dinoto, and Bonehead Brewing, tune into our podcast, Legally Consumed where we explore the consumer products space. Keep up to date with new podcast episodes by following us on Apple Podcasts, Google Play or Spotify.