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Riding the epic craft beer wave

A collaboration between Boardcave and Black Hops was always going to be a winner. So, will their limited release beer soon be unlimited?

Mar 01, 2023, updated Mar 01, 2023
Boardcave founders Ryan Mets and Chris Greber with Black Hops sales rep Cayle Lutas

Boardcave founders Ryan Mets and Chris Greber with Black Hops sales rep Cayle Lutas

Gold Coast’s craft brewery Black Hops and online surf and outdoor retailer Boardcave were destined to collaborate.

The two Burleigh Heads-based companies are next-door neighbours and their customer base overlaps considerably; surf culture and beer are for the most part intertwined.

Boardcave founder and CEO Ryan Mets said he, his cofounder Chris Greben and the three cofounders of Black Hops, Dan Norris, Eddie Oldfield and Michael McGovern, had all been too busy building the high growth companies to act until now. In Black Hops case, their phenomenal growth year after year saw them rank on the 2021 and 2022 AFR Fast 100.

“Over the years, we pretty much discussed what a collaboration would look like,” Mets explained.

He said last year there was an opportunity with the timing.

“We sat down and tried a few of their session beers and envisioned what a summer session beer would embody – you know, the passion and lifestyle that both our brands represent. That’s when Stoke Dealer was born.”

The hazy lager features a unique blend of hops, malts and tropical fruit notes and tops out at a comfortable 4% ABV.

“It’s a little bit different to the other beers in the Black Hops range. It’s a lighter beer,” Mets said.

“So, when we say session, it’s something you can enjoy if you want to not wake up too dusty the next day.”

Stoke Dealer was born at the Black Ops II brewing facility in Biggera Waters where many of their award-winning beers also originate.

“It was actually incredible,” recalled Mets. “We spent a few days with the brew team going through all the sensory stuff, spending time on the brew deck and actually brewing the beer with the brewers.

Stoke Dealer, named for Boardcave’s mascot, was released in time for Black Hops’ Haze Fest, where Mets said “it pretty much sold out”.

The brewery also shared the limited release via its Home Guard Beer Subscription – and the response was good.

“Everyone’s kind of buying up the rest of the beers at the moment.”

Being a limited release means even Boardcave “struggled” to get enough supplies for their recent Stoke Dealer launch party and 250 guests.

The collaboration is at a crucial point, according to Mets.

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“We’re actually in the process now of deciding on the next steps. You launch a product and you gauge the interest.

“Now we’ve had a really overwhelming response with everyone loving the beer, including the Black Hops team.

“The next step is deciding on what the next batch looks like.

“Because obviously, there’s different tap rooms and different retail outlets, whether it’s the traditional kind of bottle shops or [Black Hops selling] it online.”

Meanwhile, Mets and Greben are focused on growing Boardcave and their Cavewire platform, which handles e-commerce and more for surf brands and retailers.

“It’s the back-office software that a lot of the surf companies use.”

Starting the business on the Gold Coast was a smart move, with the location being Australia’s leading surf industry hub.

While overseas investment means Cavewire now has a US parent company, they are firmly staying put.

Said Mets, “Our head office and entire team is out of the Gold Coast – and the plan is to keep building it up.”

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