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.

 

WA Beer News #5

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, beer dinners, free bottle shop tastings, expansion plans, constantly rotating beer taps, beer festivals … 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 beery news that our state has to offer.

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, beer dinners, free bottle shop tastings, expansion plans, constantly rotating beer taps, beer festivals … 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 beery news that our state has to offer.

The girl+beer Facebook page has a list of upcoming beer events that you might find worth subscribing to!

Bootleg Brewery

Margaret River’s Bootleg Brewery recently welcomed a new brewer to assist Ryan “Pizey” Nilsson-Linne – Dillon Hunter who was previously in the brewhouse at BrewCorp, the Feral and Nail brewing facility.

The guys have brewed a Gose for the South West Craft Beer Festival on 11 February. The beer style originates in Germany, a wheat beer that is slightly acidic which makes it delightfully refreshing, it also uses a small amount of salt and coriander seed and has very little bitterness. If you’ve never tried this beer style before, it’s well worth giving it a shot. It sounds a little weird but it can taste a little wonderful!

The 10th annual West Australian Circus Festival is happening down in Margaret River 26 – 29 January where Bootleg’s Lunar Lager, a beer created specifically for the festival, will be served alongside the rest of their range as the exclusive beer supplier of the event.

Winter plans are already well under way with an American Barley Wine currently aging in whiskey and wine barrels with plans to bottle and keg the finished product in May. Around the same timeis a  will be this years release of Imperial Bull which is their Raging Bull aged in cabernet barrels.

The brewery branding has also undergone a little face lift, reflecting a more subtle and mature approach. You can read more about it here at The Sip by WA beer writer, Ross Lewis.

Follow The Sip on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

Bootleg Brewery

Homestead Brewery

Head to Homestead in early February to try their new Summer Ale. Head brewer Steve Wearing says the beer will be “the perfect session beer”, “light and crisp yet packed with flavour, loads of passionfruit and tropical flavour from generous dry hop additions”.

Artisan Brewing

It’s always a treat to find Artisan beers on tap and in December they released their first ever bottled beer. It’s called Tripel Treating and was a collaboration brew with The Monk Brewery (Fremantle), Boston Brewery (Denmark) and Cellarbrations Superstore (Hamilton Hill). If it hasn’t already been snapped up, you’ll find them at Petition Beer Corner, Singlefile Wines, The Monk and Cellarbrations Superstore.

Artisan Brewing director Julia Fitzgerald says Tripel Treating boasts “classic Belgian yeast aromatics with fresh mango resulting in a peppery and fruity flavour with yeast complexity. The finish is dry and fruit with a berry acidity and lingering mango on the palate.”

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Photo Courtesy of Artisan Brewing

South West Craft Beer Festival

One of my absolute favourite events on the beer calendar is the South West Craft Beer Festival. Exclusively about south west breweries you get to try beers that you might not see at some of the big Perth festivals. From Mandurah to Denmark, this year has more breweries exhibiting than every before.

The festival is on Saturday 11 February at Old Broadwater Farm in Busselton.

Photo courtesy of South West Craft Beer Festival
Photo courtesy of South West Craft Beer Festival

Colonial Brewing Co

There are a couple of new faces at Colonial Brewing both in Margaret River and Port Melbourne. Ash Hazell, previously of Barrow Boys Brewing, will be taking on the Port Melbourne with the Margaret River brewery to be headed up by Ryan Nobbs.

‘Colonial really appealed to me for a number of reasons. The Port Melbourne brewery has great equipment for brewing high quality beer and plenty of room to grow. I haven’t seen a better canning line in another Australian brewery and you really do need the right gear to make consistent beer. There’s been some great innovations from Colonial as well, like the unique can design. I love the focus on hospitality because letting people into the brewery is a great way to educate around what real beer is. There also seems to be a really passionate culture amongst the Colonial team, which is a sure sign that it’s a great company to be part of,’

Ash Hazell

Colonial Brewing Beer Garden 2

The Beer Farm

Everyone loves a good collaboration! Margaret River locals The Beer Farm recently got together with Scarborough’s tequila slinging El Grotto and together they made a lime and grapefruit summer ale. The brew involved a few hours of peeling fruit and the result is a citrusy, zingy and easy drinking summer refresher! On tap, of course, at El Grotto.

Inn8 Brewers

Speaking of collabs, if you’re following Subiaco’s Refuge Small Bar you would have spotted their snap recently of their straight from the tank tasting of their brew with Innate Brewers. Judging from the hast tags we can expect to see a Helles Lager coming very, very soon!

Cheeky Monkey

Cheeky Monkey‘s next Southern Wailer – their limited release series – will be released at the South West Craft Beer Festival. From there it will be made available in 500ml cans throughout WA beer loving bottle shops – head to their website for a list of stockists.

The beer is called Imperial Monk Red IPA, an imperial version of their Travelling Monk Session Red that boosts the ABV up to 8.3 percent ABV, basically tripling the hops, malts and booze from it’s original recipe.

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Homestead Brewery Grand Opening

Beautiful food, amazing beers and a killer setting with the red carpet rolled out … welcome to the Homestead Brewery grand opening

“It’s a brewery opening,” I thought to myself, “you don’t need to be too dressy”.

A couple of weeks ago my partner and I were invited to attend the grand opening of Mandoon Estatee & Homestead Brewery and as I stood in line I couldn’t help but notice the overwhelming number of high heels and suits.

Meanwhile I was in jeans and cursing my earlier thought process. It was late to go home and change so I instead focused my attention away from my attire and onto the task at hand – enjoying the opening of the newest brewery in Perth.

Homestead Grand Opening

Homestead Brewery on Facebook

As I walked in, dodging the photo opportunity at the entry, I was greeted by a smiling staff member holding a tray of beer. Like a magnet I was dragged in and collected a glass of the Brauhaus Lager, a Munich style lager that had been kegged about two hours before guests started to arrive. I failed to write any notes on this beer but had two of them which I think says it all –  it’s a genuinely interesting beer without being too complicated, one of those beers you can just drink and enjoy but if you wanted to get all beer-geeky it’s flavourful, balanced and perfectly served.

Homestead Grand Opening

There was no shortage of food for the night with staff circulating through the crowds with delicious platters such as sirloin wrapped beans, mini shepherd’s pies, and buffalo chicken bites with blue cheese sauce. Then there were the dedicated chefs tables – one making mini desserts, mouthfuls of lovely sweets, one located on the other side of the beer garden making a peking duck style dish which I went back for multiple times and near the main bar was a dedicated sushi and fresh oyster table. Between the duck, mini tiramisu and oysters so I could indulge in many of my favourite foods all night. If there had been a cheese station I may have slept the night there!

Homestead grand opening

Homestead grand opening

Homestead grand opening

My partner and I got to meet Derry, Homestead’s bar manager, who was really proud of the venue and how the night was going; he was also good enough to introduce us to their head brewer Ron Feruglio.

As expected the bar was very busy but what I hadn’t expected was to see Ron serving people like any other bartender. Ron had been brewing all day, kegging off the new lager and was now behind the bar. Between serving customers he also managed to find the time to provide us with samples of their first limited release beer Curvee and talk us through the beer.

Homestead grand opening

The release is a Belgian style ale and it’s far from a simple brew, it involves two different types of rye, three types of yeast and palm sugar. It’s also aged in Mandoon Estate Shiraz barrels.

The result is a deceptive 6% ABV beer that’s surprisingly light in body. It’s a beer that evolves dramatically in the glass if you have the patience to sip on it over time to experience flavours like red grape skins, figs, plums, coffee, red fruit and nuts. The finish is dry and light, I kept shaking my head at how light it was on my palate.

Berliner Weisse – a sour German wheat beer characterised by a tart and refreshing profile and low on the booze

Our chat with Ron and his assistant brewer Jackson revealed they have a lot planned for Homestead including their next two limited release beers – a pair of Berliner Weisse beers called Napoleon and Josephine, the former being made in a traditional style and the latter being made with raspberries. These should be ready early next year. Beer nerds rejoice!

The grand opening certainly put the emphasis on the “grand” but it was much more about substance and passion than pretty lights and design. Ron and Jackson have produced some of the best beers you’ll try in WA and will satisfy both new comers to beer and self proclaimed beer geeks. Personally I cannot wait to spend more time at Homestead.

Homestead grand opening

Additional Reading – Setting up Homestead on Crafty Pint and an interview with Ron at What’s Mashing WA

Big thank you to Sandra, Ron, Jackson, Denny and the rest of the team at Mandoon Estate & Homestead Brewery for the invitation to attend their grand opening!

 

 

Homestead + first impressions

Homestead Brewery in the Swan Valley have made a great first impression on me and I’ll be spending many a sunny afternoons in their beer garden

My first impressions of Perth’s latest brewery, Homestead Brewery, can be summed up as follows – awesome, really big, friendly and damn good beer.

I could leave it here, maybe throw a few photos up, but it seems too lazy to be even remotely comical so I’ll press on.

Located in the Swan Valley, Homestead is really freaking big. It’s more than just a brewery, it is a pub, it is a dedicated functions space, a beer garden, a deli, a fine dining restaurant and don’t forget there is also Mandoon Estate winery and cellar door too.

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Mandoon Estate vineyards

For me the first big tick is for friendly staff who seem to genuinely give a damn. When I visited last week with Mitch aka Beersine, we were served by Liam who happily took me through a taster of the four beers currently available.

Homestead on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

The second big tick is for seriously tasty beers. Kaiser’s Choice Hefeweizen was delightful, just the right amount of banana and soft spice that reminded me why I fell in love with this style of beer in the first place. The No 1 Premier, a Belgian Pale Ale, immediately reminded me of fruit tingle lollies with it’s almost sherbet-like flavour upfront and big carbonation. We were surprised to hear Liam say it had been the most popular so far. The Pale Ale, named Thunderbird, was bursting with that familiar American hop nose we’ve come to adore and the Black Swan Black IPA was fantastic, that perfect balance of roasty and hoppy that makes you want to do a little dance.

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If you’re keen: great article on Crafty Pint on Homestead Brewing – ‘Setting up Homestead’

Mitch and I visited Homestead for work purposes, planning the details of our upcoming WA Beer Week Event – Beer and Food Masterclass so we painfully restricted ourselves to just one beer. I picked the No 1 Premier because it really grabbed me in that first taster. The sherbet-like sweetness mellowed out into a well rounded, stone fruit and vibrant beer I could easily have a few of on a warm afternoon. This will be a hit of the summer!

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