December 22, 2021. If you’re using the US date format – 12.22.21 – it’s considered one of the few palindrome days, but if you happen to be in Subiaco, Western Australia, it’s also the day Golden West Brewing Co’s brewery venue opened.
Originally founded by school mates Daniel Burt, Stuart Nicholls, Jai Tulsi, Tom Luke, and Daniel Gammell as Modular Brewing, the quartet welcomed Stuart’s workmate Cristobal Moreno and his brother Rafael to the team before evolving into Golden West Brewing Co.
If Golden West’s name sounds familiar, especially to West Australians, it’s likely they recall the soft drink company which began making aerated water for tonics and cordials in the late 1800s, before becoming Gest soft drinks in the 1960s before eventually being bought by Coca-Cola. But in a curious turn of events, the new soft drink owners never bought the name, only the recipes, which allowed a group of fresh-faced brewers looking to showcase a local ethos purchase the lapsed trademark for a dollar.
While small batch brewing continued in a Leederville industrial unit, the search commenced to find a larger site for a brewery / venue, with the right candidate found in the heart of nearby Subiaco. With an estimated 400-person capacity, the large open bar room opens to a street-facing patio area running most of the length of the site, with the brewery kit found behind that.
At the time of writing, the new brewery – a three vessel, 1,500 litre Spark kit, with four double size fermenters offering 3,000 litres of tank space, and two 1,500 serving tanks – was yet to be commissioned. In the meantime, Golden West’s brewing is spread across a few friends' breweries and the original pilot kit.
Although the majority of Golden West’s production is currently destined for draught, some cans are available, and the venue’s globally-inspired pub food has sharing and beer paring in mind.
There’s a lot to take in, so we caught up with some of the team behind Golden West to find out more for out long-running Who Brews...? series.
Golden West Brewing Co
Where do you brew?
Tim Wren (fourth from right in black t-shirt above): The majority of our brewing still takes place at our pilot brewing location in Leederville, and we expect to get our new Subiaco site commissioned very soon.
What was the inspiration for the brewery name?
Kellie Waller (third from left in green t-shirt above): Golden West Brewing Co is the rebirth of a quintessential Western Australian brand. Over 120 years ago in 1896. JJ Wallis established the Golden West Aerated Water Company which operated out of a large factory in Leederville.
After taking up a site within a couple of hundred meters of Golden West’s original location and armed with the desire to bring locally produced craft beverages back to Western Australia, we felt that embodying and rejuvenating the Golden West brand was a key ingredient for the success of a local Western Australian brewing company. The adoption of the original logo pays homage to this idea of West Australian craftsmanship.
Why do you brew?
Tim Wren: It’s an industry where I can have creative expression that can be appreciated by all walks of life. There’s also something special about being able to turn raw products into something that is mainly consumed in respite or celebration.
Daniel Burt: “Working in a busy job and being constantly on the go means that it’s hard to find reasons to catch up with friends, or to just stop and focus on one thing for an extended period. Brewing provides that sanctuary. It’s always a treat to share a brew day with a friend and just focus on mashing and measuring hops for a moment, all the while enjoying the previous brew and deliberating over how it could be improved.
Can you tell us a little about yourself
KW: I’ve worked in hospitality since I was 15, making coffee as part of a school traineeship. I stumbled into working at Balthazar in the CBD in 2009; Pat Ryan and the team taught me so much and from there I have nearly always worked hospo aside from ten months working in gardening.
As the Group Bar Manager at Il Lido & Canteen Pizza in Cottesloe I learnt about beer from as many beer reps as I could talk to and was lucky enough to go down to Beerfarm where they walked me through a few brews. And then at Lalla Rookh I was given free range to create the tap and packaged list I thought worked for the venue and its customers, which of course included GWBC.
TW: My interest in brewing kinda started during a Conservation and Wildlife Biology degree where I was practically only captivated by the Microbiology and Chemistry units which I applied to homebrewing at the time. It was in homebrewing where I was introduced to the wider world of beers not typically available in Australia, such as London mild and Kentucky commons, and how beer is more than just yellow fizzy water in clear bottles.
After getting my sillys out with a few strange beers like savoury herb IPAs and pretzel goses, Wedgetail Brewing Company took me onboard as an assistant brewer for my first taste of professional brewing. I first met the bois of Golden West at a Freo Beerfest 2020 where shortly after they offered me the position of head brewer as they came closer to putting the hammer down on opening the Golden West Subiaco Brewpub.
Was there a beer or a moment that set you on the path to becoming a brewer?
TW: Probably getting a hold of Stone Brewing’s Arrogant Bastard Ale, Heretic's Evil Cousin IPA or similar high IBU IPAs. Those beers really opened my eyes to what beer could be compared to what was readily available to me at the time.
What beers have you released to date, and what's in the pipeline?
TW: We initially focused on a core range of ales, including a wheat beer-inspired Golden Ale, and Kentucky-inspired Bourbon Vanilla Porter. Since then we’ve trialled more beers to varying degrees of success; our attempt at a farmhouse ale was stopped after one brew, but our latest trials of a hazy pale ale and lager have been far more successful.
We will keep experimenting and, as some of the more popular ingredients fluctuate in availability, we will continue to create and innovate with new beers.
Which beer best represents you, and why?
TW: Hands down Super Australian Lager. It's all I want from a beer. Crisp, light, lower ABV compared to most other popular styles, great for every occasion: middle of summer watching the cricket; the midst of winter around a campfire in the bush; a few sneaky ones at the closest bar/pub for a “meeting”; a few more sneaky ones for post-meeting drinks – even hot straight out the carton!
If anyone drops past the brewery on brew day, what are they most likely to hear blasting from the speakers?
TW: Only the good stuff. Country, bluegrass, gothic Americana, outlaw country. Most likely Orville Peck, Charlie Parr, and Johnny Cash’s Live at Folsom Prison. None of that pop country though!
What's your desert island beer?
TW: Emu Export, because it tastes just as good cold as it does warm, never goes off, and reminds me of home.
If you could have any person in the world join you on a brew day, who would it be, and why?
TW: Probably Mike Wozniak. He seems nice.
The world of beer moves pretty fast these days, what are your plans for this year, three years and five years?
DB: Golden West plans to expand its operations in the next five years, but first we need our new venue to be flying. We’re aiming to really tune in our core range and look into how Subiaco reacts to seasonal beer releases at the venue, but mostly to be brewing beer that can be enjoyed by all.
Besides your own, what beers are in your fridge right now?
TW: Dingo, a lot of Txoko brewing, Seasonal Brewing’s Juicy Pale, and a warm carton of Export next to the beer fridge haha!
Which local beers have blown your mind in recent times
TW: Dingo Lager. Beerfarm's native Woolya Wah Red Ale. Finlay's Murchison Hazy Pale. Txoko vs Impi Humo Grodziski.
Is there a particular style, ingredient, or trend in beer you'd like to explore further?
TW: Definitely lower ABV beers, and trying to use as much local ingredients as possible.
Where can people find you on social media?
And our website.
You can visit Golden West's new brewpub at 399 Hay Street, Subiaco, and find them alongside hundreds of other breweries and good beer venues in the free Crafty Pint app. For other entries in the Who Brews...? series, head here.