David Kitchen instinctively plants the palm of his hand flat against his chest to tap his heart and the brand on his t-shirt, as he talks about Ballistic Beer Company. It’s easy to see why he’s been so successful. He’s philosophical and genuinely positive; particularly about people and culture.
The former accountant worked in Asia for the Department of Foreign Affairs for 14 years. “We came back to Queensland, bought a house, got a cat and put our daughter into ballet lessons; settling down was the end of my career,” David said. “I saw an ad for a home brew company for sale and thought it could be a bit of fun with my brother. We thought we could get some free beer and make a bit of money but neither of those things were happening,” David laughed. The home brew business eventually grew to seven retail stores.
David said he’d never set out to own a brewery. “We used to get some amazing Australian wines tax free when we lived overseas. I wasn’t really a beer drinker. I had an epiphany after a couple of years owning the homebrew business, where I actually tasted a beer from one of my store managers. I thought ‘well, this is just as sophisticated and nuanced as tasting a really good glass of wine’. And that was the moment I really started drinking craft beer.”
He had an idea to create a microbrewery where home brewing customers and staff could commercialise their brews. This quickly snowballed and before David knew it he’d started Ballistic Beer Co in Salisbury, named in honour of the local women who secretly built munitions in WWII. Just three years on, their craft beers are now sold across Australia. The company owns five venues around Queensland, including the recently-purchased Brewhouse on Tantitha Street. “We knew that if we wanted to be Queensland’s leading beer, we needed to get into the regions – the heartland of Queensland,” David said.
Ballistic purchased The Brewhouse and Bargara Brewing Co earlier this year and kept founder Jack Millbank on as an interested shareholder. Andrew Clarke will continue as their local brewer. The Brewhouse will serve both Bargara and Ballistic beers. And Bargara Brewing Co’s Ginger Beer will be available across Ballistic’s other Queensland venues. The Brewhouse is currently being renovated, with plans for a childrens’ playground. “We want our venues to be somewhere you’d be happy to take your grandma,” David said. “It’s a place where parents can be adults for an hour or two and see their children having a good time. Hospitality is not just transacting a beer or salad; it’s about bringing people into our home and making them feel welcome.”