Carrington Bowling Club get into beer brewing

INITIATIVE: Carrington Bowling Club chief executive officer Jaci Lappin tends to her first crop of hops, which was grown on site then brewed into craft beer.
INITIATIVE: Carrington Bowling Club chief executive officer Jaci Lappin tends to her first crop of hops, which was grown on site then brewed into craft beer.

Good coffee, a nude calendar of local bowlers and now Carrington Bowling Club have added yet another point of difference by growing their own hops and producing their own craft beer.

But you will have to be quick to get a taste, with the third and final keg of Braveheart tapped last week.

Carrington Bowling Club chief executive officer Jaci Lappin, also now a hops grower, hopes next year they will be able to make three times the amount.

Ms Lappin said the initiative was in line with the club’s strategic plan to continue to engage the community.

Since she took on the role at Carrington, Ms Lappin has slowly help turn around the previously financially struggling club while many other bowling clubs around them have continued to struggle.

“When I started nine years ago we had 212 members and now we’ve got 1665 members, and it’s a massive growth and it’s all about being in the community for the community,” she said.

“When I first came here nine years ago … I remember the accountant gave me this analogy that you’ve got to think about it like you’re driving a big cruise ship and you’ve got to turn it from south all the way around to north and you just can’t do that in an instant, it’s a process.”

In 2010, the now 76-year-old club was struggling financially.

A “Back to Carro Day” to re-engage the community and fundraise proved a success and the club was able to add a bistro which has helped turn the corner financially.

NEW ROLE: Carrington Bowling Club chief executive officer Jaci Lappin adds hops she grew on site to a kettle at Foghorn Brewhouse.

NEW ROLE: Carrington Bowling Club chief executive officer Jaci Lappin adds hops she grew on site to a kettle at Foghorn Brewhouse.

It has continued to run various campaigns, such as “Use it or lose it” and Ms Lappin said they were now working towards building a veranda on the park side of the complex.

“We did that with community involvement and fundraisers, that’s how we got the bistro because we certainly didn’t have the money for it,” Ms Lappin said.

There was public outcry in March of this year when a plan to save the Mayfield Bowling Club by building units on a disused bowling green was revealed. 

Investors had also approached Carrington Bowling Club over the years but Ms Lappin said they had instead continued to explore “points of difference” to cater to their members.

“We decided a long time we wanted to preserve the integrity of the club, to stay here for the community,” Ms Lappin said.

“So then we started what we felt the community wanted and we put the coffee machine in and used Suspension coffee beans and that’s now become a big part of our profit and loss sheet.

“I got the bowlers to take their clothes off for a calendar and that was another one of our things we tried to do to raise money for the veranda we want to build on the park side but then just to stay alive and keep invested in the community.”

Then came the idea to grow their own hops on ground.

“As the demographic changed and our membership base grew and changed, craft has become such a big deal,” Ms Lappin said.

“My son got a job with a craft brewery and is now the assistant brewer of Foghorn Brewhouse.

“We floated a few craft beers and the interest in that was astronomical. It was a bit of a shock actually.”

So the club set about researching how to grow their own hops.

“We thought we’ll run with this so I grew some hops on the grounds,” she said.

“Then I learned more than I ever thought I’d know about hops growing and harvesting. We got over 2kg which gave us the ability ... Shawn Sherlock from Foghorn Brewhouse was good enough to embrace what we were trying to do and let us add that to his kettle at the brewhouse.”

The result was their three kegs, which have been well received.

“The growing thing at the start was just a point of difference but I must admit I really loved it, so I’ll be doing it again,” Ms Lappin said.

“Next year I’d like to think we could go even further with it. They reckon by the second year you triple your quantity of hops as you become more established. Often people don’t think it can grow in this climate but we actually did it very successfully.”

She believes the “small bowling club is the most valuable asset in the community”.

“We’re also dog friendly now,” Ms Lappin said. “That’s very much also embracing the community needs. People love their dogs and like to take them out with them.

“What keeps us alive is the community support and never trivialising how important that is that they support us and that enables us to keep moving forward for the whole community.”