5 Minutes with Josh from The Beer Farm

This edition of ‘5 Minutes with’ is with Josh Thomas, brewer aka “beer farmer” at The Beer Farm in Metricup …

The Beer Farm on Gale Road in Metricup is one of the most recent breweries to open in the Margaret River region in the last couple of years and this edition of ‘5 Minutes with’ is with Josh Thomas, brewer or, according to his email signature, “beer farmer”.

Karridale Cottages and Hop Farm

Trey, Karridale Cottages and Hop Farm (left) with Josh (right) selecting wet hops for a brew. You can read more about Karridale Cottages and Hop Farm and the beer they made with Josh here.

Photo Credit: Karridale Cottages and Hop Farm Facebook page 

The Beer Farm was once a dairy farm and for the first few months of its life as a brewery there weren’t any walls or roof on the brew house.

The place is delightfully carefree and relaxed; Mocha the brewery dog is often around, the kids can fly down the homemade water slide and though there isn’t a kitchen you’ll find a local food truck on site.

Water Slide at The Beer Farm

What was your epiphany beer?

To be honest I could never pick a certain beer, for me it’s all about the experience beer creates that brings out the best epiphanies. To me sitting down with a stout next to a fire when it’s pouring with rain outside during the winter is one of the favourites.

What appealed to you most about being a brewer?

Good question. It’s hard to pick one certain aspect of being a brewer that is appealing, I love it all. When I was given the opportunity to learn the tricks of the trade, it wasn’t long before I grew an enormous passion for the job. Always learning and progressing. The variety each day throws at you is probably what I love the most.

Every day is a new challenge. How could you not be into that?

The Beer Farm brewery

What do you think is the biggest obstacle for WA craft beer growth right now?

I think the growth of WA craft beer and breweries has really taken off in the past couple of years, it’s hard to see it slowing down. I can only see one obstacle and that’s competing in the market. The ‘big guys’ have really started to push into the craft market and breweries over east have really cemented themselves on WA soil which is great, also keeps everyone on their toes and that eventually brings out the greats (exceptionally good beers).

What do you look for when you are looking at a beer label / can design?

Another good question. You could look at them all day and get lost in a whole other part of the brewing industry, an important one at that! For me I think it’s something that attracts the eye instantly and is recognisable anywhere it sits.
It has to be timeless and not fade in and out with a trend.
In saying that there is some pretty cool art work being thrown on cans lately and that’s quite the novelty in itself. Really enjoying the art work coming out on Beavertown cans presently.

If you could only drink one beer per day forever, what would that beer be?

You have asked all good questions but I think this one is too hard for me to answer. There are way too many! I don’t think I would survive on this earth with just one beer a day. Thinking, thinking….. Nope can’t decide.

A Bottle Share of Barley Wine

A brewer, a distiller and a certified cicerone walk into our house.

My other half and I had three friends over last weekend to share the bottle of Mountain Goat 2016 Barrel Breed Barley Wine that came to me in the form of wonderful and very generous beer mail. Our friends, fellow booze industry people like us, had a few barley wine stashed away themselves and so a bottle share soon put itself together.

A bottle share is something I have been meaning to do for a while – get some friends together, everyone brings beers to share, I probably don’t need to spell it out, I’m sure you figured this out from the name.

All together we had 15 barley wines and lined up together on the table they looked a little intimidating but pretty exciting too, perhaps the same way a big wave looks to a surfer.*

After a couple of welcome beers, after all you generally don’t just jump into a barley wine without a little warm up, we thought we’d better settle on what order we would try the beers. As a rough guide we went from lowest to highest ABV (alcohol by volume) as pictured left to right below.

barley wine

Highlights of the Night

Mountain Goat Barrel Breed 2016 Barley Wine – surprisingly lighter in body than I had expected but that is probably due to the onslaught my palate had already been subjected to. Lots happening here in this excellent example of a barley wine.

11.3% ABV // Barley Wine aged in Lark Distillery barrels // Limited bottles available // One keg now available at Bob’s Bar, Perth and the other will be tapped at Mane Liquor on Saturday 16 July at a special event also featuring Gusface Grillah.

Mountain Goat Barley Wine

Boatrocker Banshee – rich, boozy, head meltingly delicious.

Boatrocker Banshee

Sierra Nevada Bigfoot 2011, 2013 & 2016 – tasting the differences in years was super interesting, particularly when it came to the body of the beer, how much weight and richness was added with a few years of aging.

Sierra Nevada Big Foot

Not-so-Highlights of the Night

Lack of notes – not one of us wrote down anything about the beers and hence this post being sadly lacking in tasting notes. Next time I’d attach a big tag to each bottle and even if I just got a few key words here and there that would have been great.

The next day – oh my, that was a mighty hangover.

advice for your own bottle share …

Take notes, drink a TONNE of water and plan to do very little the next day!

*not sure why I went with that analogy, I’ve never surfed a day in my life.

Weekend Reading #66

For those quiet moments on the weekend when you’re able to catch up on a little reading – Weekend Reading is a weekly (ahem, usually) post with the articles I’ve enjoyed in the past seven days.

For those quiet moments on the weekend when you’re able to catch up on a little reading – Weekend Reading is a weekly (ahem, usually) post with the articles I’ve enjoyed in the past seven days.

Seattle Weekly | Inside the Underhanded Effort to Unseat Craft Beer in Seattle

Though we don’t operate in the same way the United States does with their three tier system – a system that basically dictates how booze goes from the people who made it to the people who drink it; created to prevent monopolies on booze – there is much debate on the topic of beer tap contracts here in Australia.

“A product can only be sold if customers can find it. If craft brewers are being squeezed off the shelf because of restrictive behavior by the dominant companies, that harms competition and limits consumers’ options.”

Breweries can, and many do, offer incentives for venues to put their beer on tap whether it’s a discount, a rebate (“Hey Bob, if you sell my beer I’ll give you -insert figure here- for every litre you sell!”) or just plain upfront money. A hotly debated topic because both small and large breweries do this.

LISTEN: Radio Brews News – Tap Contracts

NBC News | Craft Beer Company Looks to Make Fish-Friendly Packaging

“The edible rings are made from wheat and barley used during the brewing process. The spent grains, normally sold off as cattle feed, are treated with additives and pressed to form the rings.”

This is a nice story and one that makes you wonder how it’s not already a thing. I hope that someone in Australia brings this in too!

The Drinks Business | Soda Stream Launches Instant Beer Machine

Have you ever looked at your Soda Stream and thought to yourself, “I bet this thing could make great beer!” Yeah, I didn’t think so.

“Soda Stream has edged further into the alcoholic drinks category with the launch of a beer concentrate that can be transformed into beer simply by adding carbonated water.”

It is first being launched in Europe and the article does not mention if it is coming to Australia. I think if Soda Stream have seen the short life of Lion Nathan’s Tap King here then they’re probably not rushing to get into our market.

CNBC | 3 essential business growth lessons from the craft beer boom

A good read though and I’d say that this won’t be much news to Australian craft brewers, I see many of these “lessons” in the craft breweries I love.