5 minutes with Guy Southern aka Goodtimes Craft Beer

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.

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Guy during the launch of his collab brew with Rocky Ridge and Devine Cellars at Petition, November 2018

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


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Dan (Billabong), Guy and Steve (WA Beer Runner/The Good Beer Project) during 2017 WA Beer Week

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.

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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:

Mymodernmet, Kmsalvagedeisgn, Designboom and boluddha – these speak for themselves in their own way.

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.

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I stole a ‘behind-the-scenes’ photo of Guy as he got his Instagram on at his beer launch!

Read: The Collaborators: Zendoke on Crafty Pint by Guy Southern


Finish this sentence: The WA craft beer scene needs more …

Identity.

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.

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Guy, Kyle (Otherside) and Reece (Nowhereman)

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.

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Adam (Feral/Beer Sucks), Rhys (Otherside), myself, Guy and Brendan (Cheeky Monkey/Beer Sucks) at last years Getting Blind with Crafty, a blind tasting event, at Dutch Trading Co for WA Beer Week 

 

 

5 minutes with Jacq and Mark from Eat The Street

Happening on 17 March as part of Eat Drink Perth, The Ultimate Craft Beer Tour is hosted by Eat the Street Perth Walking Tours

[ less than a six minute read ]

All photos and images provided by Eat The Street

Eat the Street is a Perth walking tour company owned and operated by Jacqueline Baril and Mark Padgett who, if you’ve ever met them, you’ll know are excellent guides and lovely people. They’re passionate and knowledgeable about what’s going on in Perth and both are particularly in love with craft beer. Late last year Mark became a Certified Cicerone and, along with yours truly, joined a small number of West Australians currently holding such a certification. So who better to show people around Perth to find all the really good beer?!

What is a Cicerone? The word Cicerone (sis-uh-rohn) designates hospitality professionals with proven experience in selecting, acquiring and serving today’s wide range of beers. From Cicerone website. It’s basically like a sommelier but for beer!

On Saturdays, they run a dedicated Craft Beer Tour that kicks off at 3pm, because it isn’t socially acceptable to drink in the morning, and for Eat Drink Perth 2018, they are hosting a one-off special edition. Happening on 17 March, Jacq says The Ultimate Craft Beer Tour will be like their regular Craft Beer tour “but cranked up to 11!”

Eat Drink Perth: 1 – 31 March 2018

“We will have a special guest join us at each stop ranging from brewers to craft beer educators,”

The tour is extra special for Mark as it will be his first event as a Certified Cicerone.

The group will be a little bigger than normal with 15 guests and up to three guides depending on the stop and the special guest* assigned to each stop. The details are still being worked out but you can be sure a stop at craft beer favourites Dominion League and Baby Mammoth will be on the schedule and some pretty special beers and food pairings will be on offer.

*Note: I will be putting the ‘special’ into special guest by appearing on the tour too!

So you can get to know your hosts-with -the-most, I asked Jacq and Mark to answer five questions for this latest edition of ‘5 minutes with …’

Eat the Street’s Jacqueline Baril and Mark Padgett \\ Photo courtesy of Eat the Street

Which Australian breweries should people be watching?

Jacq: Wildflower, Mark and I got to meet Topher while we were in Sydney for Christmas. What he is doing there is pretty spectacular.

Mark: Batch Brewing in Sydney, Aether in Brisbane, 3 Ravens in Melbourne, Artisan are always doing something interesting over this way and great to see some city-based brewpubs!

What’s the most exciting thing about WA craft beer right now?

J: The sheer number of breweries that have opened or are opening. Crafties are taking over. It means better beers on tap at the corner pubs and more adventurous styles are being brewed.

M: I think the quality. There has been a lot of growth in the last five years, but with that the bar has been raised for quality. Our local beer is amazing and certainly holds up to beers I’ve had anywhere in the world.

What was your epiphany beer?

J: Lindemans Pecheresse – there was this small bottle shop in Frank BC Canada that stocked craft beer. When Mark found it he bought the full range of Lindemans that they had available plus a few more choice internationals. Pecheresse and framboise were my favourites. This was the first time I had ever tried craft beer or lambics.

M: I can’t just list one so here’s a few! Weihenstephan Hefe Weiss beer, Jever Pils, Emerson’s Pilsner, Duvel, Cantillon Gueuze, Worthington’s White Shield IPA, Great Divide Hercules Double IPA

What is the most surprising thing one of your guests has said on your Craft Beer Tour?

I don’t drink craft beer! …. Saaaay waaaaht?

What is your favourite beer and food pairing?

J: Baby Mammoth did a Golden Gay Time pannacotta paired with the Golden Stout Time from Big Shed, it was awesome. For an at home pairing you can’t go past a good stout with lamb roast. It’s such a great way to warm up in the winter, and I am lucky that Mark is a great cook. My go-to local is the Nail Oatmeal Stout.

M: As Jacq indicated above, pretty much anything paired at Baby Mammoth ! Those guys are next level! But at home I love cheese and beer! All the cheeses and all the beers. Try a Schlenkerla Urbock with a smoked Gouda and a spicy salami or a Boon Gueuze with a double brie.


DON’T FORGET!

17 March 2018, 3pm : The Ultimate Craft Beer Tour – a special one-off tour for Eat Drink Perth 2018

5 minutes with Sam Fuss from Philter Brewing

Sam Füss is the head brewer at Philter Brewing (NSW) who released their first beer in March last year. Read on for more information on Philter and to spend 5 minutes with Sam …

If you Google “Philter” you’ll discover the Sydney brewery who opened last April. You’ll also find the definition of the word which is “a potion, charm, or drug supposed to cause the person taking it to fall in love, usually with some specific person.” You’ll also discover that Philter is the name of a 30-something Norwegian music artist who wears a big pink bunny head but I am getting sidetracked. With the tagline “Seductively Beer” I think it’s safe to assume the Sydney brewery is named after the love potion, not the pink bunny guy.

Philter Brewing is the result of three Sydney mates who wanted to “make a high-quality, easy-drinking beer with an attitude that was just as simple.”

In December, Philter released their third beer into the range, a lager, joining their XPA and Red, and the brewery got in touch to send me some samples. Big thanks to Melissa, Sam and the Philter Brewing crew for sending six cans all the way to WA!

The branding seems to be pretty divisive, more so than any other beer brand I can easily recall. Self-described as “1980’s Australia”, it reminds me of this ridiculous novelty hat my Dad had when I was a kid. It was in the shape of a top hat and was made from thick knitted wool and beer cans. When I posted photos of the beers, I got positive and less-than-positive responses which I’d imagine isn’t much of a surprise to the brewery. Admittedly, at first glance, I wasn’t a fan but the more I opened my fridge and saw these beers, the more I liked them.

Philter beers are not being stocked in WA just yet but you can get them sent to you through two online shops – The Booze Exchange and BoozeBud if you like great beer being delivered to your door!

Philter’s head brewer is Sam Fuss and her resume includes Matilda Bay*, Little Creatures and Young Henry’s, to name a few. Sam was also one of the founding members of Pink Boots Society Australia, part of a global organisation that supports and promotes women working the beer industry.

*I did attempt to link to the website but I got a security alert, just thought I’d mention in case it looked like I was deliberately leaving it out!

Sam is not only a great brewer with 16 years experience, she’s also just a great person in general and kindly agreed to this Q&A so read on for 5 minutes with Sam Fuss, head brewery of Philter Brewing …

Head Brewer Sam Fuss (right) and Co-Founder Mick Neil (left) at 2017 CBA Award Winners || Photo courtesy of Philter Brewing

Philter is still relatively new, less than 12 months old, what has been the biggest surprise so far?

It’s been a crackin’ year for us so far and taking out the Trophy for Best Pale ale at the CBIA awards was a huge surprise!! I thought they’d read out the wrong name, then I went a bit dumb! I was a little lost for words to be honest (which we all know is not like me at all!!). The other wonderfully surprising and humbling treat is how our beers have been received. We decided very early on that we’d have fun with our approach and why not, beer is fun! We’ve kept true to our word so far and we’re looking forward to upping the ante in 2018.
Loving this XPA, it’s full of passionfruit, grapefruit, toasty malts and a lightly grassy finish.

How long was the process to develop the XPA recipe and was an XPA always going to be the first beer for Philter?

In my head, I guess I’ve been working on a session ale recipe for about 5 years. I brewed a similar version under My “Old Salt” project banner, but have definitely refined it since. That comes from falling back in love with some old favourite hops like Simcoe and Galaxy and new ones such as Mosaic. Hop Flavour and aroma is a really big part of our beers along with keeping them sessionable. Our XPA is our flagship beer and is an awesome beer to brew!

Which beer style do you think is criminally underrated?

Not sure if I’m going to get booed on this one! But I reckon there is so much more to discover in lower to medium ABV style beers, Berliner Weiss, session ales the list Gose on (pun intended). These can be super complex beers and if you adding fruit, herbs or spices that adds even more complexity. A lot of it’s about balance and harmony between all of your ingredients if you achieve that you can make some wonderfully interesting and amazing beers, that aren’t necessarily about who can pee the highest up the wall with big boozy, high alpha, drink backwards, boob beard beers.

[girlplusbeer note: I believe Sam is referencing “gimmick” beers such as American brewery Rogue who made a beer with yeast harvested from one of their brewer’s beard.]

High on drinkability and punchy hop character, this beer is toasty and biscuity with a bright citrus finish.

You’ve done quite a few collabs in your previous brewing roles, who would you want to collab with at Philter?

I’ve had the opportunity to collab with some amazing people! Chef’s, Muso’s and some of the greatest artists of our time, spanning four centuries.

Watch: Inspired by ‘The Greats’ by Young Henry’s, a collaboration with the Art Gallery of NSW

Whilst it’s not on my radar at the moment, I’d like to continue stepping out of the norm boundaries and brew beers with likeminded artists from all over the spectrum. It’s amazing where you can draw inspiration from!

What do you think is the biggest obstacle for craft beer in Australia?

I hate to sound like a broken record, but as you hear from all parts of this brown land we love, it’s EXCISE!!! The Government needs to start to think about the little people, give small business a break, it’s well overdue!
Easily one of the best lagers I’ve had in a while. Delicate lime and grapefruit, bready and grassy with a rounded, dry, bitterness.

Big thanks to Melissa, marketing and branding for Philter, and of course Sam for your time, beers and awesomeness!

So long Charlie and thanks for all the Copy Cat

It was great to sit down with Charlie, literally in between his time at Mash and the beginnings of a new venture over in Brisbane called Helios Brewing, and reflect on his time in WA and what’s coming up!

While I was chatting with Charlie Hodgson last week, on his last day as head brewer at Mash Brewing, it had clearly been a weird day for him, closing such a significant chapter of his life. We sat down over a pint, both choosing local brews by Cheeky Monkey Brewery, and I think Charlie was just happy to stop for a moment in between finishing up at Mash and the removalists coming the next day.

Over Charlie’s six years at Mash he created award-winning beers while the brewery has continued to grow. The brewing schedule has been jam-packed to meet a very thirsty audience, they’ve added a sales team, launched a range of cans and gone through a re-brand, trust me, breweries are busy places.

I’ve known Charlie, we figured out during our interview, for about a decade, starting when we were both at Gage Roads Brewing. It’s where Charlie began his brewing career, coming from the wine industry, and where I also started something new as a sales rep after years of bartending and late nights.

It was great to sit down with Charlie, literally in between his time at Mash and the beginnings of a new venture over in Brisbane and reflect on his time in WA and what’s coming up.


As I write this Charlie is driving to Brisbane, he’s moving from one side of the country to the other to be the head brewer at Helios Brewing. Though daunting to move from WA particularly given Charlie’s self-confessed aversion to change, he is feeling very positive about the move.

Helios Brewing is named after the Greek sun god, a theme that carries through in their beer names such as Poseidon, Aphrodite, Zeus and Hades, and is estimated to open at the end November.

Image from Helios Brewing Facebook

Charlie’s role will be a lot different to the one at Mash, he’ll be brewing plenty of beer, don’t worry about that but he will also be taking on some different tasks which he says will involve a little sales, some bar work and maybe even washing dishes in the kitchen! Charlie listed these tasks all with a smile on his face, he is looking forward to the variety and a less frantic production schedule.

A career in brewing wasn’t always on the cards for Charlie, in-fact he worked in wine before and it wasn’t until his late-twenties he realised beer was where he wanted to be. His brewing career started in 2006 at Gage Roads Brewing where he learnt under Aaron Heary who is still at Gage today, now their Chief Operating Officer.

When the opportunity to take on the head brewer role at Mash came up, it was a chance to showcase what he could accomplish in a leadership role and, like anyone would, at first he had to ask himself, “can I do this?”

Six years on and the answer is pretty clearly ‘hell yeah’.


I asked Jack Purser, head brewer at Indian Ocean Brewing, for a few words reflecting on his time as an assistant brewer with Charlie at Mash.

“He’s been a massive influence in my life so I’d gladly say a few words,” Jack said.

Working with Charlie was hands down the most significant learning curve I have had during my time as a brewer.

Everyone knows how brilliant of a brewer Charlie is. But this isn’t necessarily the reason behind why people in the industry respect him so much.

Charlie once said to me “I won’t ask you to do anything I wouldn’t do myself”. This wasn’t just a statement, he then followed this up during the 3 years I worked alongside him (even if I razzed him for always being upstairs shining his boots).

The most valuable slice of information I gathered from Charlie, is his simplicity in his approach. He preaches knowing your ingredients, simplicity in recipe development and a host of non-negotiables with regards to processing.

Charlie with three of his past assistant brewers (L-R) Charlie, Robin, Eddie and Jack

One of the most significant beers in Charlie’s time at Mash is Copy Cat, an American IPA which, on its very first batch, took out Champion Australian Beer at the 2014 Australian International Beer Awards.

“This was obviously huge for us,” he says with a smile.

A barrel fermented version of Copy Cat

By now it is pretty well documented that an American IPA wasn’t a style Charlie was tripping over himself to brew but Copy Cat is still the Mash beer he is most proud of, though he was reluctant to choose just one of his “children” of beers when I asked him this question.

Charlie had preferred a beer like Challenger, an English IPA, would have been the beer to make a big splash but it was the bold American hops that people wanted and boy, did he give it to them.

Charlie with the Australian International Beer Awards trophies in 2014

“The consumer drives us very hard,” Charlie says and we’re seeing it again with the current hazy IPA trend, one that Mash have jumped on relatively early with only a few local breweries having brewed the style, like Feral’s Biggie Juice. When Charlie read up on the NEIPA style he said he knew exactly what he wanted to brew,

“I thought, man, this reeks of a mid-strength; lower bitterness, enhanced mouthfeel, hop forward, hazy.”

The beer is called Little NEIPA and is available on tap now, “three tanks in and we are having trouble keeping up with it,” Charlie says and 375ml cans will launch towards the end of October.

“I’m a traditionalist with a spin,”

“I like to pay respect to a style and then turn it on its head a little,” he says. Grasscutter is one of his favourite beers and a great example of his brewing style,

“Grasscutter is probably the smartest beer I ever made, ever. It was a light clean beer, fermented on oak, clean, summery but really complex,”

Commissioning the new brewery at Helios will be new ground for Charlie and amongst other factors, appealed to him when considering the role. The brew kit is an 18 hectolitre Premier Stainless setup, the same size as West Leederville’s Nowhereman Brewing.

Helios will open with six core range beers and two speciality brews though Charlie predicts those six are likely to change in the early stages as they play around and see what people respond to.

So what were your highlights at Mash, I asked Charlie.

“Mash, in general, has been a highlight,” he replied and I have to say, it has been for us too. See you later Charlie!

 

White Lakes Brewing: One Year On

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,”

5 minutes with Steve Wearing from Homestead Brewery

Head brewer Steve Wearing took some time out of the brewery to answer my five questions so grab a beer, sit back and enjoy this short chat and get a little insight into Homestead, what beers are in Steve’s fridge at home and what it takes to make a really great wheat beer.

You’ll find Homestead Brewery, which was established in 2014, in the Swan Valley and helps make the Valley a great place for beer lovers to go. At the recent Perth Royal Beer Awards, Homestead Brewery received the trophy for Best Wheat Beer Draught for the second year in the row for their beer Kaiser’s Choice Hefeweizen.

Head brewer Steve Wearing took some time out of the brewery to answer my five questions so grab a beer, sit back and enjoy this short chat and get a little insight into Homestead, what beers are in Steve’s fridge at home and what it takes to make a really great wheat beer.

What is the key to making a really great wheat beer?

It’s all in the yeast – start off with a really good quality yeast and from there really get to know how that strain works. Factors such as pitch rate, oxygenation, ferment temperature and pressure all impact the esters produced during fermentation. Take detailed brew logs and manipulate these variables over many batches until you get the result you are after.

What has surprised you most in your time at Homestead?

The massive variety in beer preferences from those that don’t generally drink beer … When we run the brewery tour at Homestead, we give out tasters of each of the beers we have on tap, plus what’s in tank. We get a wide variety of people come in from those that don’t drink beer (they generally get dragged along by their partner) to seasoned craft beer nerds. I find it interesting to see which of the beers the ‘non beer drinkers’ take to – initially I always assumed it would be the lighter, cleaner beers like a lager. But it turns out I was wrong, often they really get into the heavier or more complex beers such as a stout or a big IPA.

So I think the moral of the story is if you don’t think you like beer – keep trying, you just haven’t found the style you like yet!

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

Liquor licensing is definitely a big issue. Obtaining a liquor license is extremely expensive, takes 6+ months (in some instances much longer) and there is no guarantee your license will be approved. This is enough to stop the smaller players from even getting into the industry. If the process was simplified, we would see a lot of small brewpubs open up with a focus on production for on-site sales.

Wouldn’t it be great if we all had a local microbrewery just down the road?

What five beers in your fridge at home now?

Delirium Nocturnum, a few different varieties from Rodenbach, 3 Ravens Juicy IPA, Eagle Bay Black IPA and Coopers Best Extra Stout (plus of course some Homestead beer in the keg fridge!)

3 Ravens Juicy IPA

How important do you think it is to have a clear definition of “craft beer”?

The craft beer debate has been going on for quite a while and I personally don’t think there is a good way to define ‘craft beer’. If you try and base it on flavour parameters then it’s too subjective. If you base it on production volumes, then if a ‘craft beer’ brand is popular and successful and as a result expands to much larger production volumes, it doesn’t seem fair that it would then not be considered craft. Personally I don’t think the definition of craft beer is important, as long as there is transparency with all brands as to who owns the brand and where the beer is produced, this is enough for consumers to make an informed decision when making a purchase.

 

5 minutes with Tom from Clancy’s Fish Pubs

Long before Petition Beer Corner, Caboose and Dutch Trading Co, long before tap takeovers were a weekly occurrence, Clancy’s Fish Pub in Fremantle was pouring local craft beer. Tom Fisher from Clancy’s chats about memorable moments and how craft has changed over the years.

Long before Petition Beer Corner, Caboose and Dutch Trading Co, long before tap takeovers were a weekly occurrence, Clancy’s Fish Pub in Fremantle was pouring local craft beer.

When I worked for Little Creatures, the story goes that Clancy’s Fremantle was the first place outside of the brewery to pour Little Creatures Pale Ale. Delivered on the back of Elsie, the Little Creatures truck (geddit? Elsie/LC) who now has a beer named after her, the kegs were driven from the Fremantle brewery and delivered to Clancy’s Freo to be tapped fresh.

The Fisher family opened Clancy’s Fremantle in 1996 and today there are three more Clancy’s Fish Pubs – Canning Bridge, City Beach and Dunsborough. Every Clancy’s continues in the footsteps of Fremantle, supporting local and independent craft beer in a huge way.

Tom Fisher works with all the Clancy’s venues, looking after entertainment, promotions and the overall brand communications. He’s also a musician and a super nice guy.

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Right now Tom is promoting the launch of Clancy’s Fish Pub Dunsborough Cape to Cape Tap List, that will see twelve of their 20-odd taps dedicated to south west breweries and cideries so drinkers can explore the beers and ciders of the south west under one roof.

“We can’t wait to show off the amazing beer from the region. The branding concept ties in with the legendary light-house to light-house hiking trail of the south.”

Tom Fisher, Clancy’s Fish Pub 

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On the other nine taps you’ll find even more craft beer from the rest of WA and, sometimes, further afar.

The Cape to Cape Tap List is less of a promotion and more of a commitment Clancy’s Dunsborough are making to drinkers that you’ll find these twelve breweries and cideries showcasing their stuff at the venue all the time.

29 June : Cape to Cape Tap List Launch at Clancy’s Dunsborough

To celebrate the Cape to Cape Tap List, I caught up with Tom for this edition of 5 minutes with …

What has been your most memorable day at Clancy’s Dunsborough so far?

Being involved with music side I’ve loved some of the concerts down there I’ve put on, like Fat Freddy’s Drop and Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings and one in particular, a Soul man from the USA called Lee Fields. No one really knew much about him but he just blew their minds. I watched side stage with an Eagle Bay Cacao Stout and was a very happy man.

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Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, Clancy’s Dunsborough in 2013

What was the last beer you bought?

Ha ha, between being a musician and working for pubs I don’t buy many I must admit but did take home a delicious Canimal of Feral’s Finn Diesel and Eagle Bay Autumn Brown from Clancy’s Freo. (Waiting for you to hook me up a bottle of Clout Stout too ha ha) [girl+beer – maybe … one day Tom!]

Read more about Clancy’s Fremantle canimals here: 5 minutes with Ryan from Clancy’s Fremantle

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What beer style do you think is really under-rated?

I’ve been happy to see winter beers become more widely accepted in WA. The range of stouts and reds are some of my faves. So great to see these so prominent in WA pubs now.

What’s the most exciting thing about WA craft beer right now?

The number and choice is incredible. 12 years ago you’d be lucky to see three reps a week, now it’s more like three a day and quality is super consistent, particularly the WA brews. I think we are leading the way and it’s why Clancy’s has been dedicated to serving WA craft beers since the late 90’s.

Finish this sentence – The WA beer scene needs more …

Hmm…. MORE BEER TAPS! Would love to be pouring and supporting as many as humanly possible. Just love to see punters sipping a craft beer and pouring money back locally and throwing the Coronas in the bin.

Hear hear! Thanks heaps Tom for your time and can’t wait to get down to Clancy’s Dunsborough again soon!

 

5 minutes with Adam Lesk from Cellarbrations Carlisle

A short Q&A with “Lesky” from Cellarbrations Carlisle chatting about winter beers, breweries he recommends watching out for and what makes a really great beer.

This edition of 5 minutes with … features Adam Lesk from Cellarbrations Carlisle.

Adam, who everyone calls “Lesky”, has been managing the popular beer shop since October last year, is an award winning home brewer and recently became a certified cicerone which makes him one of five cicerones in WA. You can find him at Cellarbrations Carlisle and get to know him a little better here with a short Q&A.

Lesky sat the exam for certified cicerone earlier in the year alongside fellow WA beer professionals Brendan Day, from Cheeky Monkey Brewery, and Scott from Mash Brewing (the three of them pictured below enjoying a beer after the exam).

Read: 5 minutes with Brendan from Cheeky Monkey
Read: 5 minutes with Scott from Mash Brewing
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L-R: Lesky from Cellarbrations Carlisle, Brendan from Cheeky Monkey Brewing and Scott from Mash Brewing

On the day of the exam, Lesky found a quiet cafe to sit and work on possible essays on beer styles. There he ran into Steve Blaine, already a certified cicerone himself and who conducted study sessions in his own spare time leading into the exam, and he confidently told Lesky he was going to be fine and to “go give it hell.” Exactly six weeks after the exam, the email came through with the good news.

“It was such a relief, more than anything, that all the time I’d spent locked away in the study paid off.”

What makes a beer a really great beer?

I’ve had a lot of really good beers in my lifetime but the one thing that always takes it to the next level is being able to share that experience with friends. The buzz that a great beer creates and the banter that goes along with it, elevates the experience to be one to remember.

Which Australian breweries should people be watching?

After being lucky enough to head over to Good Beer Week not long back and check these guys out, I’d have to say both Hawkers and 3 Ravens. Hawkers for their huge beers; their BA Imperial Stout, BA Barleywine and IIPA were all awesome and 3 Ravens for both their Wild Ravens series and their much hyped Juicy IPA.

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Image from 3 Ravens Facebook page

What do you think is the greatest misconception about craft beer?

Big, hoppy beers are the be all and end all of craft beer. I’m a sucker for a really well made Pilsner and would like to see a bit more love thrown their way.

Do you think the term ‘craft beer’ is still relevant? If not, what term do you think should replace it?

To me, the term ‘craft beer’ is still relevant and should still hang around, I see it as more of a mindset rather than strict guideline to adhere to.

Winter is fast approaching, what is your go-to dark beer for cold nights?

Right now, I’m frothing on the new Cheeky Monkey Rum & Raisin Bock as I love its massively toasty character. After stocks of that deplete, I’ll be going back to the old faithful of Founders Backwoods Bastard as it’s one of my favourite beers of all time!

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Image from Cheeky Monkey Brewery Facebook page

5 minutes with Brendan from Cheeky Monkey

Thanks heaps to Brendan for taking the time to do this Q&A, here he is chatting about what he loves about his job, his epic epiphany beers and more …

This edition of 5 minutes with … features Brendan Day, sales manager and brand ambassador for Cheeky Monkey Brewery.

Brendan recently became a certified cicerone, a globally recognise certification for beer professionals that covers ingredients, serving, pairing, styles and, of course, tasting.

It’s reported that the certification has a daunting 1 in 3 pass rate in the United States. Here in WA Brendan sat the exam alongside Scott Earley from Mash Brewing and Adam Leske from Cellarbrations Carlisle, and I am stoked to say that all three smashed the 80% minimum requirement to pass.

Read : 5 minutes with … Scott from Mash Brewing

“We had a study group that would meet up weekly for months before,” Brendan says, “so it was a pretty big journey culminating in a four hour exam, so to find out I had passed was pretty special.”

The study group, organised and headed up by Steve Blaine, aka “Blainey” who was one of WA’s first certified cicerones. With Brendan, Scott and Adam, WA now has five certified cicerones.

“I’d like to give a quick shout out to Blainey, who helped all three of us pass the exam!”

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Photo – DTC, January 2017, Study Session for Cicerone Exam

 

Thanks heaps to Brendan for taking the time to do this Q&A, here he is chatting about what he loves about his job, his epic epiphany beers and more …

What makes a beer a really great beer?

A really great beer is one you remember a long time after drinking it. Whether that’s because it’s so enjoyable to drink, a style you’ve never tried before or a beer helping to celebrate a special occasion. There’s a lot of really great beers in my life haha.

What is the most exciting thing about WA craft beer right now?

The WA scene is absolutely killing it at the moment and I think that’s the most exciting part about WA craft beer, the scene. You have brewers that are producing world class beers, reps that live and breathe beer, bottle shops that stock hundreds of different beers and are knowledgeable on them, consumers that are loyal to their locals and a community that supports each other. It’s a pretty amazing thing to be a part of.

What do you think is the greatest misconception about craft beer?

That craft beer is all about the hops. Yes, they may be slightly over represented in bars and on shelves, but if you think craft beer is all about the hops you aren’t spending enough time in your local breweries!

What was your epiphany beer?

I have two that I can’t decide between. Rodenbach Original and Anderson Valley Barrel Aged Stout. Both of these beers really changed my perception of what beer can and should be. I fell in love with them both as soon as I tried them and instantly started researching and hunting for other examples of the styles. Barrel aged stouts and sours continue to be the most memorable beers, although, perhaps not as life changing as those first two!

Finish this sentence: The WA beer scene needs more …

Barrels. More barrel aged beers and sours please.

Beer sessions at the Food & Drink Symposium (FADS)

Sometimes beer gets forgotten at food and drink events but this isn’t the case at the Food and Drink Symposium. There will be a couple of opportunities to chat beer with a few great beer industry personalities making their way to the day.

WA’s first Food and Drink Symposium, aka FADS, is happening at the Claremont Showgrounds on Sunday May 28 and will “bring farmers, producers, chefs, educators and consumers together for a unique, community creating and sustainable food and drink event, with a day long program of talks, panel discussions and workshops.”

The concept is based on similar events such as Noma‘s MAD conferences and is being organised by Katrina Lane and Ai-Ling Truong, two well-known and active members in the local food scene. Katrina is a passionate local food advocator and Ai-Ling is the food curator and founder of Food Truck Rumble.

If you are interested in where you food comes from, if you use your own cloth shopping bags instead of plastic ones and if you prefer the markets over the nearby Coles, this event should be in your calendar!

Sometimes beer gets forgotten at food and drink events but this isn’t the case at the Food and Drink Symposium. There will be a couple of opportunities to chat beer with a few great beer industry personalities involved in the day. At the Q&A – Exploring the history of WA’s alcohol industry – Jack Purser from Indian Ocean Brewing and Sean Symons from White Lakes Brewing and former chief judge at the Perth Royal Beer Show Awards, will be looking at the craft beer world and how it has evolved.

Jack striking a pose at the Eagle Bay tent at last years Fremantle Beer Fest

After the lunch break, as part of the FADS Conversations sessions, Gerrard “Mitch” Mitchell and Paul Wyman will be hosting two sessions about beer and food. Each session will be focused on a beer style and pairing it with food but the guys don’t want people standing on ceremony, they’re there for a chat with you too! These casual and interactive sessions are free to attend.

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As a beer drinker in WA chances are you have enjoyed many of Paul’s beers. The Chief, a beautiful American Pale Ale that impressed both punters and beer judges, was from Paul’s time as head brewer at The Monk in Fremantle. From there Paul went on to head up the Colonial Brewing Margaret River brewhouse and now he is at the helm of Nowhereman Brewing, a new brewpub in West Leederville due to open mid-year.

Mitch is the executive chef for the Mary Street Bakery venues with extensive experience both locally and abroad, previously heading up the kitchens at Feral Brewing, The Monk and Five Bar. Mitch has established himself not only as a wonderful chef but as the beer and food chef in WA.

Paul (left) and Mitch (right) at Nowhereman Brewing

Within these sessions, Paul will examine one beer style, diving into its history and the style guidelines and Mitch will discuss the food he would pair with it and why. A small amount of beer and food will be provided since all that chatting will most certainly make you thirsty and hungry. But this isn’t a presentation, this is a discussion so the guys welcome feedback and comment, after all, beer and food is about conversation as much as it’s about flavour.

It’s having these sorts of conversations that Mitch and Paul both firmly believe is how food and beer culture will be promoted and shared.

“You need people who are passionate and constantly telling the same story,”

Paul

Small producers and brewers are often mistakenly labelled as each other’s competition but I rarely find any of them think like this, the reality is they are all fighting the same fight and one of the ways they do this is by singing the same tune. It’s about the importance of supporting local, about the stories behind each producer and why they do things a way that results in a better product in favour of something that purely serves to slash production costs.

Photo Courtesy of Jessica Shaver Photography

When I ask the guys about how the industry will get these messages across, their answer is the same – education.

“Talk until someone starts rolling their eyes at you,”

Mitch

“Because all the big guys are constantly in peoples’ faces, you turn on the TV, open a paper, drive down the road, there’s something right there.” Competing with that kind of saturation is certainly challenging but constantly education and conversation is how that battle can be fought.

The conversation is never over because the industry is always changing. Free range eggs, Mitch says, are a great example, where the definition of what a free range egg has changed. “Now they [consumers] have to look for pasture raised,” Mitch remarks, “but we have only just taught people to look for ‘free range eggs’” and so the conversation continues.

Paul says it’s the same with beer, namely the definition of ‘craft beer’ that seems to be an increasingly blurring and overlapping category with global corporations releasing beers with packaging and marketing that echoes the style of a small, independent brewers. Often reading the small print on the back of a label or doing a Google search is the only way to determine if the beer in your hand is made locally by an independent brewery.

2014 : Paul, then with Colonial Brewing, chatting about beer at an event

For Paul and Mitch, presenting beer and food together makes a lot of sense and it’s more than just having something to wash down a messy burger. The increasing interest in food culture and the rise of craft beer are very much linked.

“It is amazing to see it start to come back – the rise of farmers markets, the rise of craft beer, all crafts are getting bigger. People want to know where stuff comes from,” Mitch says.

But the conversation about food culture is more than just knowing the name of the farm your cut of beef came from, it’s the importance of understanding exactly how every bit of food on your plate got there so that kids don’t grow up thinking that bananas come from supermarket.


Three easy ways to be more sustainable – Tips from Mitch

  1. Stop buying the “new” free range eggs and look for pasture raised eggs – if everyone did this tomorrow, “the big boys would have to go back to the farmers and make the system better.”

  2. Eat seasonally – with such easy access to almost anything we want, it is easy to forget that fresh product doesn’t grow in our backyard all year round but eating what is in season won’t just rack up points for sustainability, it will make for more flavourful produce in your cooking too!

  3. Eat 100% grass fed beef – Sure, it’ costs a little more but isn’t it worth it? “A few dollars per kilo in the scheme of things isn’t that much,” says Mitch and “instead of having 300gm of steak just have 200gm”


Like food culture, at the heart of craft beer is a sense of community, a connection with it’s local environment and an appreciation for quality ingredients.

Food and beer, individually and together, have a rich and long history – just look at the monks of old Belgian monasteries making beer and cheese – and bringing the two together is a great way to introduce people to good beer.

“Just getting people to drink craft beer is hard enough but I think if you can break that barrier down with food included, I think that really does impress on a lot of people,” says Paul. Beer is amazing on its own and then, when paired with the right dish, it can be incredible and take the beer to the next level.

The best food and the best beers I’ve ever had have always had two things in common – well put together flavours and an authentic story.


Paul and Mitch will be hosting two sessions as part of FADS CONVERSATIONS and each will feature a different style so if you’re thinking heading to one session, it’s most certainly worth returning for the second – just like any good beer is.

The Food and Drink Symposium is a crowd funded project, you can donate or donate AND get a perk with your hard earned cash here.