One of the benefits of writing a book on Australian beer is that it brings to one's attention breweries you might never have heard of before and others that you'd heard of but not had the time to investigate further. The standout in the former category when writing 150 Great Australian Beers was South Australia's Rehn Bier, whose XS Stout, in particular, was mighty impressive.
Among those in the latter category this time around is Beaten Track Brewery. Opened in Kalgoorlie-Boulder in 2010, albeit several years after a bunch of home brewers had decided the city needed one, it's one of the most remote breweries in Australia, a six hour drive inland from Perth to the Goldfields.
Operating on a 300 litre system, half of its beer is sold locally via samples and sales from its brewpub venue and a number of local outlets with the rest distributed by Perth's Mane Liquor. An extensive core range of beers is augmented by an even more extensive lineup of often big and bold limited releases and seasonals, including the Duke of York barley wine that will be the brewery's entry in the Great Australian Beer Guide when it comes out later in the year.
Much of the core range plays it safe, given the town's demographic (although Nick says he's responsible for more than a few craft beer converts over the years) while many of the beers also make use of local ingredients, as well as name checking highways and other iconic WA locations.
Work is ongoing to upgrade Beaten Track's license from one that allows sampling only in-house – although you can visit and try all six beers on tap for $20 already. That said, according to founder Nick Galton-Fenzi, the plan is to stay small and become part of the history of the Goldfields region he calls home.
Having brought brewing back to the city where there was once multiple breweries after a three decade hiatus, here's what else Nick has to tell us about Beaten Track...
Brewery name: Beaten Track Brewery
Where do you brew? 25A Dwyer Street, Boulder, WA 6430
Why do you brew?
Why wouldn’t you? Give a man a beer and he’ll waste an hour, teach a man to brew and he’ll waste a lifetime.
A mate, Andy Biggs, and I were 17, working over summer and cleaning out his parents' garage. During cleaning, we stumbled across an old (and I mean old) Olinda Fermenter and a home brew kit that was well out of date and showing signs of rust.
Andy’s dad promised us that once the cleaning process was done he would teach us how to make beer. [It was] a fascinating experience.
The brew was hardly beer but we had the bug. Full scale production ensued and slowly, through research and trial and error, the beers became palatable.
What beers have you released to date?
Too many seasonals to list but there is a core range of:
- Sandstone Summer Ale – 4.7%
- Great Eastern Wheat – 4.7%
- Gibb River Rye – 4.7%
- Hamelin Bay Hefeweizen – 4.7%
- Packhorse Pale Ale – 5.2%
- Gunbarrel India Pale Ale – 6.4%*
- Ora Banda Bitter – 3.9%
- Youngs Scotch Ale – 5.8%
Where can people find your beer?
WA – Perth and Kalgoorlie.
What's the inspiration behind the brewery name?
We were brainstorming and my flat mate Nicki came up with the name. It was a winner and stuck.
What beers are in your fridge right now?
Brewdog, Moon Dog, Nail and two kegs of BTB!
Pale Ales and IPAs. Although recently a lot of saison and Belgian strong ales.
With a cult following and people making to journey to the Goldfields to come and visit.
Among those to have visited recently is the Destination WA show. Here's their short film on Beaten Track:
Photo to top of article (l-r): Mitch Dudarko, Nick Galton-Fenzi, Gordon Priestley, Marcus Szolkowski