Matt and Ali Scott-Malcolm come across as a relaxed, cheerful and enthusiastic couple. In fact, such is their demeanour, you'd have little reason to suspect they've just opened one of WA's most highly anticipated beer venues. Yet the long-time Yallingup locals have done exactly that, and they've poured everything they've got into Wild Hop Brewery too.
"The property wasn't bought for a brewery," Ali says of the land that's been in the family for three generations. "We lived here and we even got married here.
"Matt was doing FIFO at the time and it was a question of, 'How do we make a living and enjoy the lifestyle out here?' Matt's dream was always to have a brewery and we thought, 'Hang on, maybe we can make that happen.'
"We're pretty passionate about beer and getting people together to have a good time."
Enjoying good times isn't the couple's sole focus, however, with sustainability a key part of their business model. It might be a buzz word for some operations, but Matt and Ali are committed to making sure Wild Hop is a sustainable venture for themselves and their family.
Utilising dam water on the property, an expansive kitchen garden and an established hopyard – planted on a defunct orchard dating back to the 1970s – are just a few examples of the efforts they've put in place to help Wild Hop on their journey of self-sustainability. And, while it's still early days, the chefs and brewers are already reaping the rewards.
When it comes to the beer, Wild Hop are keeping their focus simple: fresh, seasonal and, above all else, striving for the highest quality. Although Matt has spent plenty of time behind the brew kit with New Zealand brewing legends Garage Project, he's also enlisted the help of Tennessee local Andrew Caldwell (pictured on the right of the photo at the top) to bring some American craft beer flair to Wild Hop's beers.
"I spent a few years brewing around the States [at WISEACRE and Smartmouth Brewing Co] before meeting Chalky [Matt] at the Siebel Institute of Brewing in Chicago," Andrew says. "He convinced me to move to the South West of WA and then I spent nine months working alongside Hamish at Rocky Ridge Brewery before Wild Hop got underway."
Although the name and logo suggest there will be plenty of hops in the mix, Matt and Andrew are eager to assure punters there will be plenty of yeast- and malt-focused beers on offer at Wild Hop too. A barrel-ageing and sour beer program that was put in place well before the first beers were released is in full swing with a fruited gose, a grisette and a barrel-aged Russian imperial stout all making their way through the Wild Hop brewery.
As for their homegrown hops, they will also feature throughout the year – and for years to come.
"We'll be using our estate grown hops for a couple of wet hop beers each year and the rest we'll age for a few years for our sours," Andrew says. "Our expansive property will play a big part in our souring and ageing program that Matt has had in the works since day one."
They've installed a 12 hectolitre Premier Stainless brewing kit to give themselves every chance of brewing the best quality beer possible and kitted out the cellar with more than 90 hectolitres of fermenter capacity and plenty of bright tank space too. Certainly, there's enough to accommodate a rotating range of seasonal and one-off beers, plus a couple that will pour year round.
"We'll have a very minimal core range: a traditional take on a Czech pils that's lagered for five weeks will feature and a pale ale that we'll tinker with depending on what hops we can source will also be available, though that will still change with each brew," he says.
Wild Hop Brewery is now officially open to the public and seats 150 thirsty punters across a shaded beer deck and a sleek, open dining room with views of the brewhouse and the distant hopyards. A brief food menu features wood roasted and smoked meats plus salty bar snacks designed to pair well with the ever-changing seasonal taplist, which will also feature a local cider and a few beers from other noteworthy local brewers in the South West of WA.
And, if there's one thing this part of Australia isn't short of these days, it's noteworthy local brewers, with Wild Hop set to swell that number further.
Wild Hop's brewery is located at 1301 Wildwood Road, Yallingup. You can find it and hundreds of other breweries and good beer venues across Australia in the free Crafty Pint app.