ALASDAIR BEER AND MIA REEVES
With WA Beer Week in full swing, the adventurous streak of the state’s micro-breweries is filtering down to amateur brewers.
Western Australian brewer and Edith Cowan University natural sciences lecturer Hugh Dunn said WA had some of the most innovative brewers in the country.
“Western Australia has a very vibrant and active home brewing sector,” Mr Dunn said.
The state performed well at last month’s Australian Amateur Brewing Championships in Canberra.
Western Australians Asher Mitchell and Jeff McGrath won the best Pale Ale and Strong Stout categories, respectively.
Mr Dunn said amateur brewers often attempted more adventurous beers that bigger breweries would not find economically viable.
He said the boom in craft beer demand had definitely led to home brewers attempting more complex brews.
George Copley has been brewing at home in Ashfield for more than 20 years.
He said there had been a noticeable jump in the quality of home brews in recent years.
“A lot of that comes from the quality of the ingredients available to amateurs now,” he said.
Mr Copley – whose American IPA won a gold medal at this year’s Royal Show – said that, per-capita, WA was the most accomplished brewing state.
However, it was still “six or seven years” behind the USA.
Roy Ladhams of T.W.O.C Brewing Supplies said he faced opposition from the major breweries when he opened his Bibra Lake shop in 1992.
“Swan wasn’t happy about us [re-using] their bottles for home brewing,” he said.
However, he said home brewers enjoyed good relationships with the state’s micro-breweries.
“People brewing more advanced beers at home means they appreciate good beer when they taste it at these breweries, and vice-versa,” he said.
Neil Dadswell of Brewmart in Bayswater said the home brewing culture had shifted in recent years.
“Ten years ago it was a lot of older guys wanting to make cheap beer, not good beer,” he said.
“We still have that crowd now, but increasingly we’re seeing people wanting more complex hops and ingredients for all-grain brewing.”
Mr Dadswell said that while the number of home brewers had remained steady, their average expenditure on equipment and ingredients had nearly doubled in the past five years.
Businesses such as U-Brew It in Canning Vale let amateurs brew on-premises.
Owner Ross Leipold said although WA brewers were adventurous, they faced challenges.
“Because of the weather over here, it makes it really hard for the yeast to ferment at the right temperature,” Mr Leipold said.
He said business had grown steadily in the past year, as drinkers became more interested in the brewing process.
“When I was young, there were only two or three beers available,” he said.
“Now people expect to be able to try new things.
“People in Perth love that variety.”
Bob’s Bar on St Georges Terrace hosted ‘Bob’s Fest’ today.
The event allows punters to sample beer from different local breweries.
Bob’s Bar Operations Manager Matt Marinich and colleague and self-described ‘Beer Ninja’ Sebastian Levy said events like Beer Week showed the change in beer appreciation.
Both men are avid home-brewers.
“We’ve had a lot of home brewers in, asking the brewers directly about hops and the scientific process of brewing,” Mr Levy said.
“It’s good to see the culture changing from getting smashed to really appreciating the craft and complexity of brewing.”