Alright, let’s kick off with an apology and a confession.
First, sorry for the absence here! Hopefully, you’ve been following along on my Instagram where I am much better at regularly posting.
Speaking of Insta, that brings us nicely into my return to my blog with this post featuring Instagram legend, Guy Southern, aka Goodtimes Craft Beer.
(and if you’re wondering about the confession, it’s quite simply that this is not going to be a 5-minute read but I can tell you for sure, it will be fun and interesting!)
I always love catching up with Guy because he brings a unique perspective to the beer industry and articulates it perfectly. His articles on Crafty Pint are some of the best reading in Australian beer and he’s also one of the nicest and most fun guys to have a beer with. I’ll say it once and I’ll say it again and again, beer people are the best people.
Grab yourself a beer, get comfy and get to know Guy a bit better as he talks about how he started writing about beer, the idea of a WA brewing identity, the Instagram accounts that inspire him and a list of breweries, locally and internationally, who are impressing him.
What inspired you to start writing about beer?
I’m not sure if it was inspiration but around 2013/14 I formalised what I’d been posting about beer on Facebook into the original Goodtimes blog. There wasn’t much to draw from back then so I pretty much ripped the concept off Girl + Beer – you might know her. The following year, Joel Beresford (The Dutch Trading Co.) introduced me to a man that I’d literally bumped into while trying to order a beer at Beer DeLuxe during Good Beer Week. As a result of a that 45 second conversation, I began writing long form articles and reviews for James Smith AKA the Crafty Pint. In hindsight, the naïve arrogance that I might have something to contribute has served me well.
As far as writing goes, I can thank my Dad for a love of language which was supported by a couple of high school teachers. This led to a half-completed English / Public Relations degree which was rudely interrupted by a lengthy retail career. From this viewpoint, nothing has really changed in over 20 years – I’m still writing, mitigating and encouraging people and businesses to be more than they might think they can be, or at least be curious about opportunities they might not have considered.
Read: The Story of: Hop Hog at Ten at Crafty Pint by Guy Southern
Which three breweries are currently impressing you and why?
I’m lucky to have great friends that share great beer so I’m not going to answer the question directly. Haha.
Internationally, Cornish brewery Verdant is consistently delicious. Noting them is also a halo for the broader UK scene of Cloudwater, Left Handed Giant, Northern Monk and others. From Europe I’ll drop Spanish brewery Garage Beers into this and Cantillon is undeniably hype-worthy. From the US, Perennial, Cycle and Hill Farmstead have also been delicious this year. All amazing beers but also amazing artwork – design is not an afterthought!
Nationally, I been lucky to try a lot of Range Brewing’s beers through trades that have been great. Wildflower continues to excite and Philter’s new IPA is crushable. 3 Ravens and Boatrocker keep building momentum with exceptional releases and I love what Van Dieman and Ocho are doing.
Locally, it’s never been better to be a WA beer drinker. The diversity and quality coming of WA breweries is insane. I really don’t want to single anyone out so I’ll just note Rocky Ridge purely for the opportunity to collaborate on Devine Goodtimes – Barrel Aged Sparkling Saison.
What are some of your favourite Instagram accounts and why?
I really enjoy Instagram and have made some great friends through the platform. For Goodtimes Craft Beer I mainly follow beer accounts although there are few others that inspire me. I’m less interested in the lifestyle – ‘here’s me with a beer’ – side of Insta and more interested in creativity. Most importantly, I respect well curated, engaging accounts with a consistent visual language.
Beer and booze:
Sips and Sessions – Ash inspires me and never fails to deliver, Beer Thread – Leon has a consistent tone and some world class beer hustle!, Elitraks – seriously good photo work, Craft Beer Deer – for consistent tone and use of different scale within the square ratio to create interest, Beautifulbooze for styling ideas, Eagle Bay Brewing Co. – probably the most cohesive brewery account in Australia and likewise for Mane Liquor in retail.
[update: Guy also notes Phineasphrog as another good one to follow]
Architecture and design:
Lifestyle and photography:
Slice of Pai – I love the composition and cohesion of this account. It’s a great example of using colour to create a visual narrative flow through different locations, JR – not only is his art wonderful and subversive but the account is equally well curated, Tannaka_tatsuya – the sheer creativity makes you look at the whole world differently, Magnum photos – everyone should be following this account. As legendary co-founder Henri Cartier-Bresson said “Magnum is a community of thought, a shared human quality, a curiosity about what is going on in the world, a respect for what is going on and a desire to transcribe it visually”, Peter McKinnon – check his gregarious YouTube videos for tips on improving your Insta game. A quick scroll through the account is a great example of moving from ice landscapes to desert to cityscapes through composition and tone. Likewise, Create Explore uses composition, especially by using colour, tone and really subtle visual symbols through the account to create visual narrative flow.
Read: The Collaborators: Zendoke on Crafty Pint by Guy Southern
Finish this sentence: The WA craft beer scene needs more …
When Phil Sexton and mates fired up the Freemasons’ Hotel in 1984, they started the idea of better beer in Australia and, courtesy of the America’s Cup defence, sparks were also sent to San Diego – and those folks seem to have done OK with the idea. Matilda Bay, Little Creatures, Feral, Eagle Bay, Cheeky Monkey, Rocky Ridge and plenty more have followed. For a state that’s birthed even this short list of world beaters, why aren’t we known globally for beer?
Of all the challenges that face WA breweries, venues and retailers – ownership / authenticity questions, consistent quality, tap contracts, market saturation, consumer knowledge, container deposit schemes and constantly changing algorithms – the hard truth is most punters don’t care and no one is coming to help. No one. The only thing that transcends all of that is a strong, cohesive and professional identity that all Western Australians can be proud of: WA Beer.
Over 2.5 million people live here and they have a rich beer history to be proud of, if we can get them engaged and involved with WA beer. Moreover, four billion people live just to our north who might be interested in a WA beer but that won’t happen in isolation nor should it be at the exclusion of the rest of Australia.
Western Australian breweries have supported the careers of many that are killing it nationally and internationally so a parochialism isn’t required, just a shared identity that we can all embrace, no matter how big or small the brewery is or what part of the beer industry people are involved in. WA Beer should be about retailers, venues, sales reps, journalists and bloggers as much as breweries not only because these people facilitate getting great beer to punters but because beer is inclusive – it loves everyone equally.
Lastly, without a strong identity, WA beer will, in time, be consumed by others with a stronger identity and agenda that has no regard for what has come before. It will be incremental and before you know it there will be no legacy and nothing to be proud of together.
What was the last beer you had that made a lasting impression?
I talk about context a lot. Timing, place and company have so much to do with how we enjoy not just beer but life in general. For the most part, I’ve stopped chasing beers and have put my trust a mangled thought I lifted from faded bumper stickers: Beer happens. The beer magic happens when you least expect it because you’ve helped others.
So, to actually answer the question, during the Devine Goodtimes brew day at Rocky Ridge I shared a fresh Cantillon Rose de Gambrinus with the collaborators. There were quite a few of us so the pours were small. An hour or so after sharing I saw Rocky Ridge rouseabout Jacob Nesbitt walk past sniffing the 80mls that I’d been able to share with him – he still hadn’t tried it. Lost in the aroma and grinning, he said that he’d never been able to try Cantillon before and really wanted to savour it. We were all blown away by the beer but that moment is a lasting impression for me. So much about beer is about everything that happens around the glass – the context just as much as the liquid and what went into making it. That’s the stuff that I think is lasting.