Perth Craft Beer Fest is back for 2017 and happening right now! I went along to the Friday night session and there is a long list of great breweries to go and see and many of them are using the festival to showcase new beers – here are some of the new brews on offer …
Perth Craft Beer Fest is back for 2017 and happening right now! I went along to the Friday night session and there is a long list of great breweries to go and see and many of them are using the festival to showcase new beers – here is just a sample of the new brews on offer …
Artisan Brewing De Avond, 9.0 percent ABV
A barrel blend from Shiraz/Pinot Noir barrel, a lovely Belgian-style Oud Bruin brewed in 2016 and a special collaboration with Petition Beer Corner.
Otherside Brewing Social Classic Lager, 4.7 percent ABV
A Helles style that is about being an every man’s beer.
Otherside Brewing American Stout, 5.8 percent ABV
Definitely not sweet with big roasty flavours.
Blasta Brewing Mosaic Pale Ale, 5.4 percent ABV
Juicy, tropical fruit character and a really smooth bitter finish.
Rocky Ridge Brewing Citrus IPA, 7.2 percent ABV
Brewed using fresh oranges and grapefruits from their own farm and all 100% West Australian ingredients.
Blue Mile Brewing IPA, 7.0 percent ABV
Made with relatively new hop variety Fortnight and Simcoe hop powder.
Boston Brewing Rame Head, 7.4 percent ABV
This Red IPA also uses the Fortnight hop variety and boasts passion fruit and melon and balancing sweet malts.
As a West Australian beer geek I have always known of The Wheatsheaf Hotel, more commonly known as “The Wheaty”, but had not visited. I got to fix that beery injustice during last month’s Australian Craft Brewers Conference in Adelaide. I ate a wonderful dish from a food truck, I can’t be more specific than that sorry, poor memory and a few pints! I had a couple of beers, enjoyed them lots, and Uber-ed back to the hotel full, happy and sleepy.
Jade Flavell, co-owner of The Wheaty, told attendees of the conference during the SA Brewers Panel session about how her and two friends co-founded The Wheaty and I think it’s such a great story that I would like to share it with you here and hope that, the next time you’re in Adelaide, you’ll be sure to visit and raise a glass to a wonderful iconic Australian pub.
The founding trio – Jade, Emily and Liz came across The Wheatsheaf Hotel in 2003 and Jade says they “fell in love with it”.
Jade tracks back the idea to own a brewpub to a trip to the United States where she tried an Alaskan Smoked Porter and it blew her mind.
It took a few years of searching until they came across The Wheaty. Perhaps they could have found something else sooner but they wanted a pub without pokies. This proved difficult given, at the time, Jade estimates less than ten percent of pubs actually fit the criteria but then along came The Wheaty.
It was, as Jade describes it, an “affectionately regarded shambles” and the existing owners were looking to sell to someone who would keep it as a pub. “We bought the pub on a handshake,” Jade said and from there they moved in and lived there for three months, renovating at the same time.
The pub was originally built in 1919 and they were keen to preserve the exterior.
“We’ve done bugger all to the outside”
As for the rest of the pub, Jade describes it as “crap-tastic”, after all, it was never their intention to create a slick and modern pub. There’s live music most nights of the week, a pool table and a dart board, all the signifiers of a good ol’ local pub.
When they re-opened the doors, Jade says they had to chase people to get beer on. They had Mountain Goat, Little Creatures and James Squire pouring and they were “dragging people kicking and screaming into craft beer”. After all, it was almost un-South Australian to drink anything other than home grown, well known Coopers Brewing beers.
“It took years,” but Jade says the rise of imported beers helped to change things in a time when, in the early 2000s, there weren’t hundreds of breweries in Australia. Imported craft helped The Wheaty start to change their beer culture, “slowly, slowly, pint by pint, customer by customer”.
Three years ago they had to make a decision whether to add a kitchen or a brewery and since brewing beer was always part of the plan, that decision was easily made and well, who needs a kitchen when there are food trucks?
The Wheaty Brewing Corps beers are made on a 600lt system and they sell their beer at the pub though they keep six taps reserved for guest beers to serve alongside their own. Selling all Wheaty beers at The Wheaty is, Jade says, the only way a system this small can work. They did the math and wholesale beer sales would actually be a financial loss but Jade doesn’t seem disappointed; she loves selling her beer merely steps from where it’s made.
“The instant customer feedback is worth its weight in gold”
Apologies for the lack of photos in this post, while I was enjoying beers and food at The Wheaty I neglected to take a single photo! (a sure sign of a good time!)
New beers from Feral, Eagle Bay, Otherside and Black Brewing plus there’s plenty more coming up in the coming weeks from Gage Roads, Blasta, Bright Tank and more!
There is a lot of stuff happening in WA’s craft beer scene that it’s genuinely hard to keep up with all the new beer releases and WA really is kicking ass when it comes to craft beer and so I thought I’d try and make a regular feature out of all the new beery goodness our state has to offer.
Brewed with a recently released hop blend ‘Fortnight’ and infused with loads of Grapefruit and a touch of Lime, this is a grapefruit punch in the face with a juicy mouthfeel and finishes with a lingering bitterness just like the US presidential election.
“We didn’t really want to make a ‘craft’ lager as such so we are aiming more for an every man’s beer,” says Kyle, Otherside Brewing rep. It is a Helles style beer and is available in 375ml cans and on tap.
Blasta are not letting a little thing like not having a brewery get in the way of making beer. Brewer and founder Steve Russell got into the brewery at Last Drop to brew this pale ale. The beer will be available on tap only and you can find the beer via the Now Tapped app.
White Lakes Brewing Instagram shows they’ve got an Oktoberfest beer in the pipeline!
Otherside Brewing have made a small batch, just 50 kegs, of an American style Stout to be released early next week. They’re promising big roasty flavours and “definitely not a sweet stout by any stretch.” It will be available on tap only and with just 50 kegs it won’t last long!
Gage Roads have hinted at a collaboration with Whipper Snapper on their WA Instagram.
Their brewery runs 24/7 and plans for their second site are well under way. Pirate Life Brewing showed up in 2014 and have been going fast and strong ever since.
Some breweries come along and make a significant impact on the Australian craft brewing scene. Little Creatures and Feral spring to mind and, of course, Adelaide’s Pirate Life Brewing. Not just because of their incredible beers but also because of how quickly they’ve made their way across Australia. Five years ago there wasn’t much talk about craft beer from Adelaide, and now Pirate Life is a staple in many craft beer lovers fridge across the country.
While I was in Adelaide recently for the Australian Craft Brewers Conference, I was able to visit Pirate Life in Hindmarsh. Along with good friends and fellow WA beer folk, Paul Wyman – brewer at the newly opened Nowhereman Brewing – and Adrian D’Espeissis from Eagle Bay Brewing, and we were given a tour of Pirate Life by Michael Cameron aka “MC”.
MC also spoke at the SA Brewers Panel on the second day of the conference to discuss how Pirate Life started and their approach to the national beer market.
The brewery is impressive and has been running 24/7 since March 2016, the canning line runs for 16 hours every day. When we visited, there were 24 fermenters, and by the time I hit “publish” on this, they’ll have an additional eight fermenters on site. In twelve months they hope to have their second brewery in Port Adelaide up and running.
When speaking on the SA brewers panel, MC said their plans had always been to take Pirate Life national and to do it quickly. MC, with brewers Jack and Red, launched Pirate Life with more than 270 tastings in their first year. Regularly they’d finish work for the day, throw on their Pirate Life branded shirts and visit three new bars.
Moving fast has perhaps been a defining characteristic of Pirate Life, and that rapid growth led to them outgrowing their own distributor and so they established their own distribution company in July last year called The Pirate Cartel. They are also exporting to the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Singapore.
Back in 2014, they had all their brewing equipment ordered but had yet to secure a place to actually house them. On November 12 they signed a lease, three days later their tanks arrived. It took them 91 days to build the brewery which also included, at Jack and Red’s insistence, $100,000 worth of lab equipment.
First and foremost, MC said, Pirate Life is about making great beer with a focus on quality and freshness.
“Quality and freshness, everyone should be talking about these two words,”
They have seven warehouses across the country, and MC says they are continuously working to improve their systems to keep stock as fresh as possible.
While Pirate Life Brewing continues to grow their brewery, they also keep adding awards to their name, recently winning the Champion IPA trophy at last months Craft Beer Awards for their Mosaic IPA.
Branding is far more than just your label, logo or tap badge, it’s your reputation.
“Your brand is what people say when you’re not in the room,”
Matthew Remphrey is the owner and creative director of Adelaide’s Parallax Design and spoke at the recent Australian Craft Brewers Conference about branding, or more specifically he talked about one question: What do you want to be famous for?
Branding is far more than just your label, logo or tap badge, it’s your reputation, Matthew said. That is the power of branding and why it’s important to view any monies spent on developing it as a capital investment instead of just another cost on the bottom line.
Matthew says branding is the reason why people buy a Mercedes instead of a Toyota; it’s how you get people to pay more for a similar product.
In an introductory overview of branding, Matthew provided five questions for attendees to consider if they’re serious about creating a brand that will be remembered.
1 // WHO ARE YOU?
Matthew described this as a “fact finding” question that should take you through the breweries history and experience so far. He encouraged people to think about their brand, their brewery, as a person. How does that person behave, what do they do in their spare time? What music do they like?
2 // WHY ARE YOU HERE?
This question, Matthew says, is all about what drives you, what is the one reason that keeps you going. Why did you get into this?
3 // HOW ARE YOU UNIQUE?
The answer to this question should be something no-one else can say; it must be absolutely unique, he stressed.
Example: Our _____ is the only _____ that _____
Matthew also suggested to trying writing your obituary, “when you close the doors in 20 years time, what do you want to be remembered for?”
4 // HOW CAN YOU MAKE A DIFFERENCE?
What are you doing differently and what impact does this make?
5 // WHO CARES?
This covers anyone who can make or break the business such as employees, suppliers, shareholders, media and even the bank.
In a growing category like ours, Matthew emphasised the importance of differentiating yourself. It is likely that in the eyes of the drinker your beer can be substituted for another, he said, so it’s critical to ask yourself what you’re doing that is different from everyone else and then be able to tell the world.
“Pricing is a really important part of positioning your brand,”
Matthew has worked with several wineries, and many of them have different tiers of a product, from entry level and premium wines and they come with their own price tag and so he wonders whether this is something craft beer can learn from? Is this something beer can do?
What I found most interesting from Matthew’s talk was his discussion on provenance, and he used the example of the paddock to plate movement in food. Consumers are engaging with the story behind their meal, who’s growing the veggies and the name of the farmer where the pig was raised and what their story is and maybe craft beer can learn from this. Maybe craft beer can go beyond just listing malts and hops like a bullet point presentation and talk about the farms and the people, is there an interesting story here? These stories, Matthew says, are probably not stories you’ll likely hear the big guys telling.
It’s been just over a year since White Lakes Brewing opened so I sat down and chatted with head brewer Sean Symons
“This is pristine,”
Sean Symons, head brewer, White Lakes Brewing
A few years ago Sean Symons was having a pint of Guinness with John Gastev at the Vernon Arms in Baldivis. He and John, whose family of well-known publicans have a love of beer, were in the early stages of scouting for a location for a brewery. As they sat overlooking Lake Walyungup, Sean said “this is pristine” and thought it was exactly the sort of place you’d want to build a brewery.
Within twelve months an opportunity came up to take over the Vernon Arms and in 2015 they started construction of White Lakes Brewing right next door to the tavern.
It has now been just over twelve months since White Lakes Brewing opened their doors. The whole site is called West Garden, home to the Vernon Arms and White Lakes Brewing.
Construction involved converting the function centre on site into a brewery and this meant lifting a large portion of the ceiling to accommodate the HGM brew kit. What was the kitchen is now what Sean fondly refers to as the “mad brewers lab” where testing and quality control happen. The main function space with large timber ceiling beams and exposed brick walls is now home to fermenters and tanks lined up in neat rows. A couple of the fermenters are sitting where the dance floor used to be.
The brew kit is powered by steam, ticking boxes for the brewery in being both environmentally friendly and ensuring great brewery efficiency. The vapour condenser on the brew kit collects steam from the kettle and converts it to hot water, the condensation goes to the waste water treatment which is used to water the lawns and gardens.
Sean built their malt silo; something he was quick to add that he wouldn’t recommend. “It came from the US, flat packed,” Sean said it took a full week to put together.
“We love our lagers,”
Lagers feature strongly in the line up with the White Lakes Draught and Pilsener, German style and Bohemian style pilseners respectively, along with a seasonal Dark which is a German Schwarzbier.
Their Wit is a Belgian style wheat beer that Sean says is “a big favourite” of his and that won a silver medal at the Australian International Beer Awards (AIBA) in May.
White Lakes Standard, among their best-selling beers alongside the Pilsener and Draught, won a gold medal at the AIBA and is based on an English Ordinary Bitter. At just 3.5 percent ABV it is their reduced alcohol offering which was an important inclusion in their range given their somewhat regional location. It also reflects the old English beers that were available when the Vernon Arms first opened.
White Lakes Summer and Pale Ale round out the range providing some hoppier ale options.
“The beers that are approachable and sessionable and that you can return to will be the really successful beers,”