Margaret River has long been home to a sizeable number of brewing companies. With more opening at an ever greater rate in recent years, both there and across the wider South West, it must be the most populous of any non-metro region of Australia.
Bootleg was the first open more than two decades ago, but another of the mainstays of the region is Cowaramup. It's one you may not have heard of, or at least heard less about than many of its near neighbours. And that's with good reason: it operates very much as a brewpub, one that rarely sends beer outside its four walls (and beer garden).
Co-founder and head brewer Jeremy Good, who was mentored by Brendan Varis at Feral as he took the step up from homebrewer to brewery owner, is also not one to chase fads; he brews predominantly English influenced traditional ales, plus a couple of German inspired beers (including a Pilsener that took out an Australian International Beer Awards trophy in 2011) and his hoppy summer ale Lightsign. His passion is trying to make those same beers the best he can (well, that and enjoying them in the company of visitors to his brewery).
It's located in a pretty spot just a short drive outside Cowaramup (not far north of Margaret River itself) and today celebrates a decade since opening. As such, we invited Jeremy to answer a few questions about why he does what he does.
Why are you a brewer?
I am passionate about beer, I enjoy working with the raw materials and brewing beer that consumers enjoy.
What would you be if you weren’t a brewer?
Sad and miserable. In my previous life I was in IT, so probably still there – sad and miserable.
What was your epiphany beer?
Gales HSB (now brewed by Fuller's).
How did you first get involved in the beer world?
Firstly as a consumer, then have-a-go homebrewer, then a more passionate homebrewer, then started Cowaramup Brewing Company and became a brewer – a natural progression?
What's the best beer you’ve ever brewed?
They all get the same amount of love – [it's a] bit like asking who’s your favourite child? Well, I can answer that because I only have one – Bethany.
What's your single favourite ingredient to use in beer?
Malted Barley – in particular Maris Otter.
Are there any beers you’ve brewed that might have been better left on the drawing board?
A while ago now I was aiming for a barley wine but things didn’t quite turn out the way they should and it made a very drinkable Scotch ale.
If you could do a guest stint at any brewery in the world, which would it be and why?
Lost & Grounded, in Bristol, England. Would be great to work alongside [former Little Creatures head brewer] Alex Troncoso.
Which local (Aussie or Kiwi) breweries inspire you?
Feral – Brendan Varis.
What's your desert island beer – the one to keep you going if you were stranded for the rest of your days?
And what would be the soundtrack to those days?
Pink Floyd with a bit of Paul Weller [Not Beer Song, Jeremy?]
If you couldn’t have beer, what would be your tipple of choice?
Absolutely no idea – I hope the world never comes to that? I enjoy the odd green tea in the morning.
What's the one thing you wish you’d known before becoming a brewer?
You don’t have to be crazy to be a brewer but it helps.
And the one piece of advice you’d give to anyone considering a career in craft beer?
You’ve got to be really passionate and prepared to work hard. Brewing is a process and it runs you.
Thanks, Jeremy. And happy tenth to you and the rest of the Cowaramup crew!
You can read other Brew & A features here.