All Aboard For Beerland

All Aboard For Beerland

August 14th, 2014 by Crafty Pint

Who wouldn’t want to go to Beerland? Aside from the fact that it just sounds so damn appealing, it’s also conveniently located in the heart of Northbridge, Perth’s nightlife centre…

Northbridge Brewing Company by Beerland (NBC) is the latest WA brewery to open its doors to a thirsty public. It is a project many years in the making, with beer geeks across Perth long wondering when the doors would open. Their question was answered last week as the founders welcomed their first customers to a soft opening.

Commanding the 12 hectolitre brewhouse at NBC’s heart is Ken Arrowsmith, who was coaxed out of brewing retirement after just over four years spent running his own business. His love of beer goes back many years; in fact, he was involved in brewing Redback in its early days and speaks highly of Phil Sexton of Matilda Bay and Little Creatures fame. From there, his career takes in an impressive list of roles with larger breweries, including Swan and Toohey’s. You may well have “met” him too as it’s his caricature that features on cans of Emu Bitter.

“It sounded like too much fun not to get involved,” Ken says of his return to brewing at NBC. “I’ve always been interested in science and brewing and it’s just a wonderful industry to be involved in.”

The new, state-of-the-art brewhouse features a reverse osmosis water system, up to eight fermentation tanks upstairs, and serving vessels that will send the beer straight from the tanks to the drinker’s glass. The brewery fits snugly into its custom brewpub surroundings, while the building is textually interesting: a combination of exposed red brick, neon signage and industrial additions.

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The impressive two-storey brewpub

Being a part of the community is literally built into the two-storey venue, complete with rooftop Skydeck, with parts of the bar taken from historic Perth buildings such as the old Ford factory and Perry Lakes stadium. It’s clear the NBC team hopes to become a part of the greater Northbridge community and is proud to be supporting other local businesses like Torres Butchers.

It’s a brewpub for the beer curious and newcomer as much as the beer geek. The initial Beerland range provides accessible craft beer while the bottle menu includes offerings from the likes of Sierra Nevada, Two Birds and 4 Pines to broaden the drinking experience.

In creating the core range, Ken brewed up to 30 prototypes before launching with a wheat, pale ale, lager and mild.

“Given our location we wanted a core range that was easily accessible,” he explains.

The Beerland Wheat is a Bavarian style beer, with unmistakable banana and spice on the nose and a soft, fruity and lightly spiced palate. The Beerland Pale Ale is fresh and crisp, using Galaxy hops and then dry hopped with Cascade. For anyone who likes a clean lager, the Beerland Lager carries a good dose of spice from the use of Saaz hops and a solid all German malt body.

The final core beer in the Beerland range is the Mild, not available at the time of writing but set to run through the brewhouse soon. Ken is promising a darker beer with more malt character and plenty of complexity. He also has plenty planned for one-off special brews, the first of which will make its way into production in the coming few months.

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Glistening stainless steel

Visitors can line up a few of his wares to sample with a tasting tray, sign up for a Brew Master tasting package or dive in deep with what’s described as “a once in a lifetime opportunity to be a Brewer for a Day with Ken”.

“We’ve long recognised Western Australia as the home of the craft beer revolution in Australia and we were thrilled when Ken agreed to head up our brewery,“ says Beerland brewing director Michael Rasheed. "NBC aims to deliver a relaxed hospitality experience where exceptionally well-made beer is the focus.”

Since starting out as an assistant chemist at The Swan Brewery, Ken reflects positively on his career to date: “It has been filled with constant challenge and change,” he says.

But as much as the beer industry has evolved since our palates were introduced to Redback, he says it is still all about the beer.

“Make a good beer,“ he says. "Sell it to people who enjoy it.”

And who can argue with that?

NBC is adjacent to the Northbridge Piazza, on the corner of James and Lake Street in Northbridge. It is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week, offering a full menu with various dining options throughout the day and night.

Pia Poynton writes the girl + beer blog and handles the Crafty Pint WA Twitter account.

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