As non-alcoholic drinks continue to soar in popularity, Melbourne-based craft microbrewer Monceau has secured $850,000 in a pre-seed round that will go towards a new hospitality venue in Brunswick serving up its range of non-alc beer, cider and sparkling wine alternatives.
With backing from the likes of Never Never Distillery co-founder George Georgiadis and Canva's head of product growth David Burson, the start-up will use the capital to open a larger brewery on Barkly Street, Brunswick in July.
Founded in late 2020 by Alan Caras before he was joined by Rowan McNaught in early 2021, the business uses innovative and technical approaches to fermentation to produce drinks that have the full flavour, style, and story of their alcoholic counterparts but without the booze.
“We started Monceau to create something more interesting than a lemon, lime & bitters; something sophisticated that fits into the wine and beer occasion,” Monceau founder Alan Caras, former CEO of Punthill Apartment Hotels and KPMG analyst, said.
“We still wanted to have fun and to engage with food and events in the same way; we just wanted to drink less alcohol.”
Tapping into the burgeoning growth in consumers seeking healthier drinking habits, Monceau uses natural methods to craft drinks that are naturally low in alcohol or non-alcoholic.
Using no sweeteners, artificial carbonation or preservatives, it brews in a traditional method, naturally fermenting and carbonating to create unique, ever-changing flavours from its current home in Keilor Park.
Opening to the public as a cellar door and hospitality venue, Monceau’s new brewery will stock its flagship brand Monceau, alongside a range of non-alc sparkling wine and cider alternatives, as well as its non-alc beer Parc Pilsner.
“There’s a growing appetite for complex and innovative non-alc beverages. Demand for Monceau and Parc this summer pushed us beyond the limits of our current brewery,” Caras said.
“We’ve taken a larger space in Brunswick that will allow us to scale up, as well as invite the public in to see our unique fermentation processes.”
The eponymous Monceau label, an ultra-low-alcohol replacement for sparkling wine, is produced using wine-making methods but substitutes in a kombucha yeast strain that naturally limits alcohol.
“Both Monceau and Parc have connected with consumers in a powerful way. We’ve found there to be this fierce loyalty and passion for our products,” Monceau co-owner Rowan McNaught said.
According to McNaught, the business’ mission is to grow its distribution over the next year to make Monceau and Parc accessible in wine shops and restaurants around the country.
Its products are available in a small but growing number of Melbourne’s restaurants, including at Andrew McConnell’s Cumulus, Marion and Builders Arms, NOMAD, ST ALi, and speciality bottle shops, including Blackhearts & Sparrows, Spring Street Grocer and McCoppins.
“One of our great supporters has been Blackhearts & Sparrows. They place Monceau in the sparkling wine fridge next to proseccos and pet nats,” added McNaught, who previously worked in design at Kaggle, Google and NGV.
“It helps to frame our product as something you can bring to a dinner party or picnic as an easy substitute for a bottle of wine.”
Pet Nat is an abbreviation of the French words ‘pétillant-naturel’, which means ‘naturally sparkling’. Monceau double ferments its kombucha rather than adding in carbon dioxide.
The microbrewer hopes to further tap into the health-related functional/probiotics trend with the launch of a new product in July.
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