Crafty Brothers Have Something Special Brewing
In 2006, Australian brothers Dave and Andrew Ong stood outside the defunct Times Square Brewing Company in New York, US, looking longingly inside to an establishment that was being gutted and refurbished after its recent purchase by the Disney Group.
It proved to be a red-letter day for Dave and Andrew, who’d been working in New York and Seattle, respectively; Dave is a physiotherapist, and Andrew is an aeronautical engineer at Boeing.
Disney’s plan was to chop up the brewery’s equipment and sell it as scrap metal, but the Ong brothers had other plans.
Having offered to cover the rigging costs, they organised trucks from New Jersey to come into Manhattan to grab the brewing equipment.
However, with New York being one of the busiest cities in the world, the operation had to be conducted in the early hours of the morning, and when the trucks arrived, it took a bit of Australian charm to convince the local authorities to allow them to load up the gear (since flatbed trucks aren’t permitted in the area).
A year of trials and tribulations later, the brothers had set up a brewery of their own in Moorabbin, in Melbourne’s south-east, with transport solutions supported by Isuzu Trucks.
Inspired by the range of craft beers available in the United States, the brothers set about making their own craft beer under the name “2 Brothers”.
2 Brothers stands out for its unique range of beers, including a Kung-Fu rice lager, The Gypsy pear cider, Taxi pilsner and The Grizz, an American amber ale.
“Making a unique range of beers that appeals to the craft customer, while being ‘highly sessionable’ and easy to drink, is our trademark,” said Dave.
Operating out of two sites—one a brewery, the other a cellar door—the brothers produce 3,800 litres a day. The beer ferments for three to four weeks before being filtered and bottled or placed in kegs.
After that, drivers hit the road in two Isuzu NLR 45-150s with automated manual transmission (AMT), delivering package beer and kegs to their 150 clients across Melbourne.
With a gross vehicle mass of 4,500 kg, the NLR can take an industrious payload while still being legal to be driven by someone with a standard car licence.
This works well for the brothers who like to provide old-school service, employing drivers with personality as well as a licence.
“We’re one of the few brewers left that hand deliver,” said Dave.
“We don’t like using logistics companies because we don’t get to deliver the stock cold, plus it’s better to have the same driver and the same friendly smile.
“We drop off 50-litre kegs and packaged beer from Tuesday to Friday.”
But that wasn’t always the way it was done.
When the venture began, the brothers were shuffling around Melbourne in utilities, but soon discovered some serious shortcomings.
“We started out with utes,” Dave recalled, “but they had limited loading capacity and poor visibility.
“Now we’ve obviously moved to trucks, which carry a lot more. The trays are a lot lighter, the visibility’s good, they’re a lot more reliable. It’s made it a lot easier for us in terms of deliveries, and we’re able to take more stock further.
“Our drivers typically do a 16- to 18-stop day, carrying 30 kegs and 30 cases. Before using trucks, we used to have to do double runs. And with the vehicles we’ve purchased, they can both be driven on a standard driver’s licence.”
The brothers originally purchased their NLR 45-150s three years ago, getting a slightly longer tray in one of the trucks.
But why Isuzu?
Dave says they chose Isuzu because of its reputation.
“We test drove a bunch of other products, but for that size and loading capacity, the AMT, the price and reliability—we went with the Isuzu trucks,” he said.
“Other trucks we’ve used have had issues with bearings and various mechanical problems.
“We want to have these trucks for 7–8 years until there’s no book value left. Since we’ve had our Isuzus, there’s been no downtime.”
Their trucks certainly get a workout, not just delivering beer, but picking up locally sourced grain and transporting a whole lot of stock between the brewing site and the cellar door.
Another standout feature the Ong brothers saw in the Isuzu NLR 45-150s was the truck’s handling.
“When we’ve got them fully laden, with 2.5 tonnes on board, they brake and drive in a similar way even to when they’re half laden,” said Dave.
“The work can be very heavy, starting and stopping through the city, with 70 or so stops, and the NLR 45-150 is nimble enough for that. Then it can be travelling down the freeway at 100 km/h.”
The trucks each cover over 300 kilometres a week, which means driveability is also at a premium for 2 Brothers and their team.
“You can parallel park the NLR, which is great,” said Dave.
“The drivers love the visual height in traffic and the cabins are roomy. They’re also accustomed to civilian cars, so they love jumping into a great truck, it’s a bit of fun for them.
“The benefit the Isuzu truck delivers is flexibility in delivery options.
“It’s also fantastic for branding and signage!”