Greg Plaxton was “trying to be a commercial pilot” when he met Shelly, his future wife. “A pilot’s life is a lonely one,” though, as he puts it, so when they got together and started a family, they also began brainstorming ideas for a business they could run together. Shelly was a Bar Manager with 17 years of experience working in the service industry, which led to the idea of starting a company that would help pubs, restaurants and breweries clean and manage their draught lines.
Draught lines need to be cleaned regularly or bacteria and mould can develop, as well as “beerstone,” a natural build-up of calcium and protein that can interfere with flow in the lines and generate off flavours in the beer. Most pubs and restaurants do clean their lines, but “unless you’re on a fixed schedule it’s easy to put it off,” Greg explains. “It inevitably gets neglected.”
After Draught WISE opened in 2010, Douglas magazine named it one of Victoria’s Top 10 Businesses to Watch in 2011. Since then it has grown into a very successful operation — the Plaxtons now employ four people, and their services have expanded to include custom design and installation of draught systems. They set up most of the local breweries’ growler stations, and just finished adding 10 more taps at Garrick’s Head Pub, bringing the total there up to 65, along with the 50 taps next door at the Churchill. They are currently building a draught system for Whistle Buoy Brewing in Market Square, and are also working on a custom installation for Refuge Tap Room, which will be opening this summer.
Draught WISE also provides the gas used to push beer through draught lines, and supports places that have wine or cider on tap (the acidity in those beverages can be a challenge). They even help with residential installations — several BrewVIC members have benefited from their support in setting up draught systems for their homebrew.
Be sure to look for the Draught WISE seal at your favourite pub or restaurant to be sure that the beer you’re sipping is “brewery fresh.”