September 25 2012 by Crafty Pint
“In just four steps, I’m standing next to the ocean,” he says. “In fact, I’m walking out there now. I’ve got a marina in front of me and the ocean is just to the west. I live right above the brewery too. We’re talking about putting in a fireman’s pole so I can slide straight down into the brewery.”
For the Indian Ocean Brewing Company’s new brewer Dave Brough, it’s quite a change of scenery. In his last post, he was part of the production team at 3 Ravens, knocking out beers from a factory on an industrial estate in the north Melbourne suburb of Thornbury. Now, if he trips over on the way out the brewery, he falls into the warmth of the Indian Ocean.
The expat Brit, whose brewing career had taken him to Fiji before landing in Oz, moved to the brewery in WA’s Mindarie Marina in April. The brewery’s owners had been looking to raise the quality of their beers and a mate recommended him for the post.
“They’d lost some focus with the brewery,” says Dave. “It was just ticking along. They had this 25 hectolitre brewhouse [the same size as Mountain Goat or Stone & Wood to put it in perspective] that wasn’t being used to its full potential. They decided they should push it and could see that craft beer was going gangbusters in WA.
“When I got here, the brewery was in need of a bit of TLC, so I’ve been stripping bits back, refurbishing and replacing. The beers were pretty average too – they had a bad reputation so we threw out the old and brought in the new.”
Four of the existing five beers have been replaced since Dave arrived in April and given free rein to come up with new beers. Well, free rein provided there was “an ale, a lager, a wheat beer and a mid strength”.
“I put my hand in, pulled out a few formulations and everybody likes them,” he says.
The new beers are an American Red Ale (the ale), a Dortmunder style beer (the lager), a Belgian witbier (the wheat) and a 3.5 per cent English ale (the mid strength) – “the sort you used to find in every single British pub” says Dave. One beer survived the cull after any suggestion that it was replaced led to an outcry. Said beer was the sweet stout, a particularly popular drop with the locals, themselves one of the more unique demographics in Australia.
To those unfamiliar with the Indian Ocean brewery’s location, Mindarie is pretty much as far north as you can go along metropolitan Perth’s northern coastal finger before the city ends. Largely residential, it has grown up around a hotel and marina built in the late 80s and is home to a large number of expat Brits, Kiwis and South Africans. In fact, with upwards of 30 per cent of the population drawn from the UK, Dave likens it to “a little Britain by the sea” – hence the hefty support for the stout.
Looking ahead, the plan is to work the brewery back up towards capacity and supply other pubs around Mindarie. Already a handful of the beers are making it a little further afield, with Leederville Garden online starting to pour the White Cap witbier this month and the Claremont Hotel and Rosemount Hotel taking the Red Ale (Big Red) and Lager.
“[The owners] have got a progressive attitude and have five venues that are going to be taking beers from the brewery,” says Dave. “We’re supplying the venue here and are starting to put the beers into others in town. The [other venues' owners] had wanted to taste the new beers as they’d previously rejected some of the products on a quality basis.”
Having had more of an overseer’s role at 3 Ravens, the switch to the west coast has allowed Dave to get his hands dirty in the brewery again too.
“It’s always fun making beer,” he says. “It’s why all brewers become brewers.”
Even if not all of them get to work on a brewhouse a handful of steps from the ocean.
Photo at top taken from the brewery’s Facebook page.