The last time I saw “Pizey” aka Ryan Nilsson, brewer at Bootleg Brewery in Margaret River, he was happily drinking their Coconut Hefeweizen at the South West Craft Beer Festival in Busselton.
For many it was the first opportunity to sample Bootleg’s latest limited release and its safe to say it was a hit with the beer taking out both Critics Beer Choice and Peoples Beer Choice of the festival.
The Coconut Hefeweizen does exactly what it says on the box – it still tastes very much like a Hefe and the toasted coconut folds in nicely, as if it had always been there. It has big coconut aromas that had me burying my nose in my glass more often than normal but coconut doesn’t totally dominate the beer, there is still plenty of banana and a hint of vanilla.
The brewery has also been busy pumping out their Speakeasy IPA, an evolution of their Settlers Pale Ale that’s found its way into IPA territory with an emphasis on ‘fresh is best’. Drinking beautifully, it’s a sensational IPA that’s thankfully made it’s way into craft beer loving bottleshops like Mane Liquor (who I am now a dangerous ten minute drive away from my front door!)
Pizey is always great for chat but for those who didn’t get to say ‘hi’ at the South West Craft Beer festival or haven’t yet met him, here’s a chance to get to know the brewer a little better …
Tell us a bit about yourself!
I am a brewer at Bootleg Brewery and have been working there for 6 years now. I learned the craft there after a few years of putting down my own brews at home and hanging around the craft beer scene with a job in the bar and grounds at Cowaramup brewery when they first opened.
My home life revolves around my 11yo son Nick and fiance Kelley and trying to fit in sport while my body still holds up! Also try to fit a bit of fishing in when I can….
What is the best part of living in Margaret River?
I like everything about Margaret River, Im from a settlement family so I love the small town community hidden behind it’s tourism front. Getting down the beach on a sunny summers day to relax and wash all the beer dust away… and going to eat the great food that is produced in the region keeps a nice roundness to my belly. But what I love the most is that whenever I get the urge to go to a local brewery I can try something different every time, the diversity of Margaret River is what makes it so great. Nature, tourism food and BEER (apparntly wine is made here too)!
What has been your favourite Bootleg beer to brew and why?
My favourite bootleg beers to make are the big and bold ones! But the Speakeasy IPA has been my favourite because it required alot of tinkering to get it right, slowly changing the settlers over a year to balance the malt characters that we wanted before blasting it with added hops and alcohol to create Speakeasy. And it will always be a work in progress to try and make it even better….
What was the inspiration behind the Coconut Hefeweizen?
The Coconut Hefeweizen was Brookesy’s [Michael Brookes, fellow Bootleg Brewer] inspiration, we wanted to recreate our old hefe as a seasonal but were trying to think up ways to spruce it up a little and give it a unique Bootleg character.
Were there any surprises in the brewing process for this beer?
It was brewed a little different, a little birdy passed on to us that the very original Redback in the 80’s was brewed with 10% rolled oats in the mash so we added that in which gives a slight sourness to flavour and fullness to the palate which will lend itself well to the Hefeweizen style. We toasted the coconut meat in the brewery kitchen and added it post ferment… Breakfast in a glass….. Oats, coconut and banana’s.
What was your first reaction on tasting it?
I have to admit to being a little apprehensive about whether or not the coconut would overpower the flavour’s of the hefeweizen which is important to me, I don’t want to brew a novelty beer I wanted to add a new flavor but keep the original characteristics of the style. A bit of research went into the amount and time of the toasted coconut and plenty of tasting to get the right mix of flavors after the coconut addition so the first tasting bought a smile to my face as I realised the fusion of flavors was going to work out perfectly.
The core range of beers has changed a little, in particular the transition from Settlers Pale Ale to the new Speakeasy IPA, what inspired this?
Me and Brookesy both enjoy drinking a fuller, hoppier beer than the Settlers was and being huge fans of American Style IPA’s such as HopHog we wanted to make one for ourselves. Sick of all the imported IPA’s having old hop character due to the travel time it was time to step up a notch with the Pale Ale so we could fill our fridges with fresh IPA. With both of us being big craft beer fans surely if that’s what we want to drink then others will too!
How has the Speakeasy been received?
The Speakeasy is doing really well and has quickly became one of our fastest moving products, doing smaller batches and keeping it super fresh has worked wonders for the beer and customers. It is doing particularly well in craft beer bottleshops in Perth, particularly at Mane Liquor and Cellarbration’s Carlisle.
Are you working on a beer for this years GABS and if so, can you give any clues?
We are and all I can tell you is it will be something very different and may involve working very closely with a NSW brewery…..
Thanks heaps to Pizey for his time and, more importantly, such great beer! See you at GABS!