Native Flavours. Great Intentions

Australia is the home to some of the world’s most diverse flora. Thanks to our nation’s abundance of vastly different biomes, the sheer number of unique ingredients available is incredible.

The country's indigenous population has been experimenting and harnessing the full potential of its native fauna for thousands of years. And now a Western Australian brewing company is working to bring these ingredients to the forefront via beer.

Spinifex Brewing Co is an Aboriginal and veteran-owned brewing operation, an idea that started with Mick Little, a Yamatji man who had been keen to incorporate native ingredients into beer for some time. He connected with John Gibbs, a keen botanist and homebrewer, and as their conversations and ideas evolved the pair teamed up with the man who'd become the third member of Spinifex, communications manager Steve Jansen, and started to brew some beer.

After extensive trials, the trio were feeling ready to hit the market when three became four. Adam Barnard, an Army veteran with a business background, joined as chief executive officer and helped propel Spinifex into cans and bottleshops.

“I love the concept,” Adam told The Crafty Pint. “I really saw the benefits of the native ingredients.

"I think it’s been a very long time since we’ve really exported a truly local beer globally. There is a great opportunity to show off Australia in a can by offering something that's infused with native Australian botanicals.”

 

The team behind Spinifex (left to right): managing director Mick Little, CEO Adam Barnard, brewing director John Gibbs, and comms manager Steve Jansen.

 

Those ingredients are sourced from across the country. Their first release, the Wattle Amber Ale, is infused with Australian Wattleseed from Roelands Village in WA, whose produce also featured in a collab between Beerfarm and Fervor we wrote about last year. Other beers in their lineup include Myrtle Summer Ale, Honey Myrtle Ale, and Geraldton Wax Ginger Beer.

“It was just phenomenal when we launched,” Adam says. “I think people could really see what we were trying to do and really got behind us.”

While native ingredients make up a large part of Spinifex’s business, Adam says a significant amount of time and effort has gone into their most popular beer, the F88 Premium Lager. It's named after the F88 Austeyr rifle, which has been in military service since 1989. The brewing company donates 50 percent of all sales from the beer towards mental health services for military veterans and members.

Adam says the idea came to him as a way to honour his sister’s partner, who took their own life in 2006 after a tour of Afghanistan.

“I wanted to do something really meaningful," he says. “We know veteran suicide is a massive problem that we have to do something about. To know that half of the profits from that beer are going to go to military mental health services, it’s not been a hard ask to get people to drink it.”

Having established a foothold in the local market – and hit the media in the early weeks of the COVID pandemic for their partnership with Limestone Coast Brewing to make hand sanitiser – they're now aiming to expand distribution. 

“We want people to taste how unique Australia is," Adam says. "We’re really proud to be using these ingredients and really connecting with Australia’s unique heritage.”


Keep tabs on Spinifex's unique mission here.

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