adventures in craft beer in Perth and beyond

The article I would have liked to have seen

Over the weekend an article appeared in the paper, “Paying top dollar for a pint of posh”. The article disappointed me, I started writing out a list of reasons why but rather than being the person who says “that’s crap” here’s the article I would have liked to have seen instead …

Get in the TARDIS or whatever time machine you have at your disposal and go back ten years, do you think you could have sold a 330ml beer in Australia for $200? Probably not but in the current beer drinking landscape things are a little different.

The image of the average Australian beer drinker is changing, in fact it’s hard to say whether there is such a thing anymore. The guy in white singlet and shorts, double pluggers on his feet and a can of Emu Export in his hand is probably still around but now he’s joined at the bar by a new Australian beer drinker. One who’s got a thirst for supporting Australian brewers, who’s looking for new beers to try, who’s on the hunt for flavour and who could easily be a man or woman, in short the emerging Australian beer drinker is a craft beer drinker.

Whilst the definition of “craft beer” remains contentious the general idea seems to be agreed upon – breweries that put flavour first, that value what goes into the beer as opposed to cheaper inferior ingredients, breweries who are run by beer passionate people.

Those, including myself, who call themselves craft beer drinkers or beer geeks are growing in number and keen to spread the message. The message is simple – craft beer is king.

The best ingredients, passion, experimentation and innovation are terms commonly associated with craft beer and sometimes this means a few extra dollars from your pocket.

Now stay with me because I know I may have lost some of you. We live in Perth, we are constantly being told we’re living in one of the most expensive cities in the world, we’re constantly mocked for the price of our coffees, hotel rooms and pints. I’m not saying these statements aren’t valid but just forget all that for a moment.

We’re not talking kidney donations or home remortgages here, in many cases we’re talking about a mere six bucks. Six dollars is the difference between a 6 pack of Perth brewed Nail Ale and a 6 pack of Stella Artois, that’s a dollar per bottle. I pay that without batting an eyelid, not because I’m a beer wanker and not because I’m rich because I’m neither of these things, but I pay it because I think Nail Ale is a better beer.

I like the flavour, I like the fact I’m supporting local and I like the fact that the brewer is immensely passionate about his craft.

With craft beer drinkers growing in number it’s clear I am not the only one of this mindset. I guess that explains why Dan Murphy’s is sold out of pricey beers from Scottish brewers Brewdog such as Tactical Nuclear Penguin and Sink the Bismarck, beers that go for up to $200 per 330ml bottle. In the same breath it also explains why beers from breweries like Perth’s own Nail Brewing and Feral Brewing and east coast operators like 4 Pines Brewing and Mountain Goat Brewing are being sold from there too, most for around $20 a 6 pack.

Now some of you may be wondering whether price accurately reflects quality, just because you pay a few bucks more for a beer does that make it a better beer? Well the answer is no, it doesn’t. Aside from the fact that everyone is different and entitled to like whatever beer they want, just as is the case with wine, food, hotels and cars it’s not a case of the best product having the biggest price tag. For fun we put this to the test in our own little lab and dragged in four taste testers to blind taste five Australian Pale Ales.

On the panel – Joe Bloggs, brewer at insert name here brewery in Perth; Jane Doe, restaurant manager at well know, up-market restaurant; Bob McBobson, random blue collar tradie and Sally Smith, food blogger.

The beers – Coopers Pale Ale, Nail Ale Australian Pale Ale, 4 Pines Pale Ale, James Squire 150 Lashes Pale Ale and Matilda Bay Fat Yak.

Grab next weeks edition of the generic newspaper to find out the results from our tasting panel.

13 Responses to “The article I would have liked to have seen”

    • girl + beer

      Me too! I actually wasn’t going to do the tasting at first, the idea being that the results weren’t the point, the “panel” just makes the article a little more fun and catchy. However I think I’ll do it now just for the fun cause i don’t do blind tastings often.

      Reply
  1. Daniel Blake

    There was another terrible one along the same lines. It had a number of dubious “beer experts” blind tasting beers and proclaiming EMU Export was the better beer.

    Reply
    • girl + beer

      It was a pretty weird line up of beers to try. Kinda like doing a Barossa Shiraz against ‘lady in the boat’, Passion Pop and champagne. They belong in the same category of wine but entirely different beasts.

      Reply
  2. Grant

    Everything’s overpriced in Australia coz we pay it. At 90 to 95% water beer is over priced for what it is. But the issue is excise, GST on the excise and the bond store regulations. And also its a commodity in short supply if the likes of nail ale was everywhere it’d definitely be cheaper. I know a craft brewer who was able to sell his beer cheaper by getting it in Dan Murphy’s due to the volumes they could now produce and sell.

    Reply
    • girl + beer

      I must admit I don’t have a compete understanding of excise. The whole Dan’s thing is a funny one, on one side of the coin they are big corporation owned and on the other it allows exactly what your mate is doing and gets craft beer into people hands.

      Reply
  3. Pete Mitcham

    Beautifully written. As an ‘Easterner’ and maybe used to pretty reasonable prices for craft beer, a recent trip to Freo highlighted how lucky we are. Noticably more expensive (in general, for everything) out West but balanced by great range and some really well crafted beers. Is the FIFO/Mining money mentality responsible for higher prices?
    Shame the minstream press can’t print something about the way craft beer is changing people’s habits for the better.

    Reply
    • girl + beer

      High prices tend to be blamed on mining thing but how much of that is valid I’m not educated enough on the topic to say. One could argue it stated that way and now we are accustomed to being charged like wounded bulls. If one shop owner saw another charging a certain price for something and getting it then it’s not surprising if they charge the same.

      Thanks for reading my piece, great to get feedback and I’m very glad you enjoyed it!

      Reply
  4. Dereck Hales

    Just saw this from the Beer is Your Friend post. Well done Pia. It’s so frustrating seeing the mainstream media writing such naive pieces that only serve to hurt perception of what beer should be – community, flavour and fun!

    Reply

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