September 27, 2016
The Everyman: Dan Caneva
We sat down for a pint at The Post Office Hotel, with owner and fourth generation publican, Dan Caneva to talk about family, Coburg Brewing Co. and what’s next for this local resident hero.
How long have you lived in Coburg?
I’ve lived in Coburg for seven years, I am a northern suburbs boy now. Previously I lived in Chapel St, St Kilda. I moved here when I bought The Post Office Hotel.
I was actually living upstairs at the start, which was very detrimental to my health! We’d just bought a pub, I didn’t have to drive – I think it was a “one for you, one for me” type scenario there for a while.
Tell us about that time, how did The Post Office Hotel come to be what it is today?
It was lots of blood, sweat and beers to say the least! My business partner Shannon and I did most of the renovations ourselves, with my brother chipping in to bring the place up to scratch. The refurb ended up taking a number of months, but we couldn’t be happier with the result. You feel at home in every room, I think that was one of the good things that came out of my living there – it is truly an extension of myself and was designed with patrons like me in mind, with an atmosphere that lends itself equally to social drinks with friends or dinner with the family.
How has Coburg changed since you arrived?
It’s changed dramatically. You go back in time seven years to when we bought the pub and it was horrible. The clientele were of the single tooth variety and were in the habit of smashing pints and occasionally each other’s faces in before midday.
Two years later we started to see the early signs of gentrification, with more young professionals expressing interest in the area and venturing a little further out to shop, eat and live here.
It wasn’t until about five years later that we really noticed the dynamics shift. Now the area is populated with people like us – it’s the young families, young professionals with one or two kids and a million dollar home loan. It’s people that have been priced out of Brunswick and Northcote. The nice thing is that the diversity is still there, it’s still such a culturally rich neighbourhood, I think it’s just toned down the roughness and become a much safer, friendlier place to be.
In the eight years we’ve had The Post Office Hotel, we’ve never had a problem; you won’t see anyone brawling out the front – it’s just not that type of venue. The older people come in, drink a nice bottle of wine; the younger kids come for the live music and pool table, have a couple of pints then move on to the city.
What’s your favourite thing about living in Coburg?
There is a real neighbourhood feel to Coburg, a sense of comradery so to speak. From the local community’s involvement in activities and events to the support of local initiatives – it’s an all in type of area.
For instance, we along with a few others, sponsor the local footy club. The Post Office Hotel covers all the catering for the President’s Lunch and I’ve introduced a pop up there with Coburg Brewing Co. for all the home games. That’s sort of like my boys day where everyone comes down for a beer and to cheer the team on. It’s a fun day centred on wholesome entertainment, fit for the whole family – you’ll find a lot of dads come down with pram in tow.
We even made a joke of it last week, when three mates and I found ourselves standing around our prams – very quickly the concept of ‘Dad’s club’ was tossed around.
That’s the spirit of the place. You’ll find many people, my family even, popping in and out. My wife Jane is often here, actually she’s booked out the room with the fireplace out for her next social outing.
I guess that’s what I love most, that Coburg has something for everyone and is so well-located that it makes getting to your next venue, home or even into the city so accessible.
Speaking of Coburg Brewing Co., you started just a few short years ago and you’re already stocked in over 150 venues. We know it’s good, but how did you make Coburg Lager the northern beer of choice?
It was something of a natural progression. Having grown up working, managing and eventually owning pubs, the concept of creating my own beer was something I always wanted to do. When it came to Coburg Brewing Co. I knew exactly what I wanted it to taste like. I didn’t want it to be just another obnoxious craft beer that you could only stand to drink one of, I wanted it to be the every person’s beer – the summer thirst quencher, the solution to a hard day’s work, the easy drinker that was always there for you.
I work closely with the brewers on the recipe to make it happen and over time and with refinement I think we finally got there – it’s a pretty satisfying experience and one that probably wouldn’t have been enjoyed in nearly as many establishment’s if it weren’t for Jane and her liquor sales expertise. We’re a real team. It’s nice that we can share this and have built the brand together.
The brewer and the liquor saleswoman, sounds like the perfect match! What’s it like trying to separate work and family life?
I think we manage pretty well. Our six-month old is the perfect distraction, he makes it easy to switch off and completely absorbs us and all of our attention with his cheeky little smile.
What’s next for Coburg Brewing Co.?
We have just released the next beer in the range – the Pentridge Pale Ale, which will be available on tap at our new location in the old laundry building, where we will be opening a micro-brewery, bar and eatery with local developers and good mates of mine, Ben and Mark Anderson from Future Estate.
They’re brothers and young guys themselves that really share in my vision for the space and for Coburg Brewing Co. so I’m really excited to see what we can do there and am looking forward to bring the historic site to life again in a completely new way.