Beer, beer the magical fruit


Daddy Long legs Bar

Daddy Long Legs Bar

Ebony Garlett, Reporter

If you haven’t heard it before, you’re hearing it now. Craft beer is on the rise. As Steven Blaine says; “There’s a beer out there for everyone”

The beer industry has become a strong presence in WA and within Australian culture. There are more and more groups and associations forming, such as the West Australian Beer Association (WABA), Independent Brewers Association and Inner West Brewery Association and they are launching events like Beer & Brewer, Beerfest, Brew and the moo, and Octoberfest.

WA craft beers are among the best in the nation, as voted in the GABS Hottest 100 Craft Beers poll. Swan Valley brewery; Feral Brewing Company had the state’s top craft beer, placing third overall, with American Pale Ale Hop Hog as a favourite among voters.

Edith Cowan University (ECU) researchers:  Rob Payne and Nevil Alexander suggest the Western Australian Government should look to spend more money on boosting the West Australian craft beer industry, showcasing the best ales, pilsners and lagers the West has to offer.

“Judging from the awards; brewers in WA are getting its share. And it’s fair to say they’re producing really good beers,” said Mr Alexander said from ECU’s School of Business and Law.

Mr Blaine has worked in the hospitality industry nearly his whole life and has created a career out his love of beer. He’s worked for some of the most influential beer corporations in WA and Australia.

Asked how do you distinguish a quality beer from the rest? He said: “There are two ways to look at that: the technical quality of the beer and personal preference differences around flavour.

And he began by saying;
“Not every beer is created equal. Not every brewer has the same level of ability to produce an outstanding beer.”

To which I replied, yes we can’t choose our parents.

“Exactly, for example, if you work for a larger brewery with state of the art equipment, you’re going to have a better shot at creating a good beer. As opposed to someone making beer out in a garage somewhere. I think overall the quality of the beer is getting better as people become more aware of how a beer should taste.

“The more educated you become and train your senses you can actually taste the beer and know whether it’s a good representation of a particular style of beer.

“If it’s past its most vibrant stage, an old beer may represent some flavours – that if you don’t know they’re not supposed to be there; some might say are pleasant. But if you train your senses, for example, a Pale Ale should have a lot of hop around it.

“If I smell it and the hops aren’t there and I taste it and it’s sweet and not bitter, that to me shows just some of the characteristics of a bad beer.”

And the non-technical side is simply individual subjectivity, everyone’s tastes are different. For example; you can take a look at all the different coffees around today, people just have different preferences.

But Mr Blaine said nevertheless “there’s a beer out there for everyone. The great Australian beer spectacular breweries make these one-off ridiculous beers and it becomes almost like a nuclear arms race.

“The weirdest beer I have had was a German sour wheat beer infused with salted caramel I couldn’t believe how much I liked it! People are adding mango, chilli and everything these days.”

And with the rise of beer in West Australia and the variations entering the market he’s definitely not wrong!

Since 2006, craft breweries in Australia have risen from 30 to 528; an average of 68 new establishments per year have opened since 2014, with a closure rate of only 4 percent.

What sets West Australian craft beers apart from other states and countries?

The region where a beer is made has a huge impact on the flavour of that beer variety and that’s to do with the water and the hops. Hops only grow in a select few places in the world due to their need for a temperate climate and a specific amount of sunlight.

One of the main hops used in Australian beer today is called ‘galaxy’ which can be found in James Squire’s 150 Lashes or in Stone & Wood’s Pacific Ale. It’s a passion brewed tropical flavour and aroma, one could say those flavours are deemed the Australian type or flavour of beer today.

Hops were originally used for their bitter flavour and their preserving qualities but today there are over a 100 different kinds of hops. Each has different characteristic, for example, American hops have a signature flavour and aroma, described as resembling as pine needles and citrus,  which is indicative of the environment over there.

Water is another massive component too beer, as the mineral content of water varies.

The pale ale is one of the most popular Australian beers. It was first created in London brewers were using very hard water (that’s water with a high calcium content) and it actually isn’t very good for making pale ale, hop filled beer. But what brewers found when they went a couple of hundred kilometres up the road to a town called Burton-on-Trent was that the water there was high in calcium sulphate and it turns out that kind of mineral makes pale hoppy beers amazing, so pale ale took off in Burton-on-Trent because of that water profile. Other darker beer styles like porters and stouts also took off Dublin because of the water there.

Nowadays breweries can filter water to make any variations they want.

If the government was to boost their tourism through craft beer production components of water and creating hops would be the places to invest.

There were large hop gardens in South West of WA in the Karri Valley during 1960s but these hops were used less and less and fell out of the main flavour pool. Today small hop boutiques in the South West of WA are taking hop varieties from the whole world and adapting them to WA conditions. So WA is looking towards creating its own characteristic types of beer.