When builder Anthony Pillinger was setting up his commercial brewery, one of the start-up conditions was all backers of the business had to be recognised on the label. Yet, while it may have worked well for galloping superstar Makybe Diva to be titled using the first two letters from the names of five of its owners’ employees, it wasn’t an approach that was going to fit for the four couples involved in this new WA beer company.
In the end, it was maths rather than English that provided the answer. By totting up the number of directors and their partners, the operation quickly became known as Innate Brewers with a big "8" in its logo.
The other founders alongside Anthony are Nathan Boyes, Kelly Lavin and Nigel Lutton, with the foursome brought together by a shared love of homebrewing. They decided to take their passion to a higher level by developing a setup in a warehouse complex deep in the Perth suburb of Spearwood.
However, for the hobby to become a paying concern, the owners found themselves behind the eight ball. So, after 12 months, they determined that if Innate were to take the next step they needed professional guidance.
Enter Joel Nash.
Joel's passion for brewing was stoked by veteran WA mash paddler and family friend Mal Secourable, who first lured him into the brewing caper when founding brewer at Matso’s in Broome.
Joel continued his beer education with the online Seibel Institute before joining Mal at Colonial Brewing Company in Margaret River en route to a stint at Gage Roads, newly crowned holders of the Champion Australian Beer title for their most recent release, Little Dove. The pair reunited at Indian Ocean Brewing before Joel decided to join Innate.
“I’ve been here three months so these are my first batches of the Innate core beer range,” Joel says, as he taps one of the brewery's 1000 litre tanks.
“These guys have been around a year but none of them are brewers by trade, although they did a great job to put the brewery together.
“They still have their normal jobs, which is good. They were making beer but as you can expect it wasn’t as good as they wanted so they decided to hire someone and get serious.
“Now we’re just trying to get momentum.”
Joel has been imparting his influence on the Drinkstable India Pale Ale – a 6.2 percent ABV hop bomb, Pale As Bro – a 4.8 percent ABV, Nelson Sauvin influenced Kiwi Pale Ale, and the 4.6 percent ABV Freo Draft Pilsner.
This month has also seen him collaborate with Perth’s Belgian Beer Café to develop Confucius Sais – a 6 percent ABV saison laced with mandarin peel. Beyond that, a spiced porter called Raging Rajah will be released in time for winter.
While expanding the range is one of Joel’s goals, he's found that making beer hasn’t been his only concern in his first role as the head of a growing microbrewery.
“Because I’m now a head brewer I naturally want the beers to turn out well,” Joel says. “But as I’m the only one here I’m also worrying that we have to sell kegs this week or someone wants me to help fix a tapline to avoid flat beer.
“The only reason it will happen is if I do well in a number of areas. I like that challenge.”
With the Innate eight becoming nine, it's a challenge that should now be that little bit easier.
Innate beers have been on tap at venues including the Sail & Anchor, Belgian Beer Café and Clancy’s City Beach; look out for more stockists in the coming months.
About the author: Ross Lewis is editor of The West Australian's beer website, The Sip.