Year In Beer: WA & QLD

December 31, 2011, by Crafty Pint

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Year In Beer: WA & QLD

So, just time for the final look back on 2011 before you all go and crack something special for Hogmanay. And as a festive treat, it’s a two states in one bonanza. OK, so we did pose the questions to a few others in WA and Queensland and planned to run them separately, but it seems the respondents have been rather busy brewing or selling beer, which is fair enough. Also, no Northern Territory yet – another frontier that awaits the arrival of craft beer – and apologies to ACT; we’ll catch up with the activities at the Wig & Pen soon enough, no doubt.

WA is the home of craft beer in Australia and celebrated another great year at the Australian International Beer Awards, collecting a swag of awards, while the local craft beer industry established its first ever microbrewery showcase in Perth. With some of the leading brewers in the state having big plans for 2012, there’s little sign of a let up. Meanwhile, Queensland, the state where craft beer had made perhaps less of an inroad than any outside NT until now, has had a phenomenal second half to the year, with new craft focused venues opening regularly and the local media really getting behind the burgeoning scene.

So, without further ado, for the last time in 2011, we ask: “How was it for you?”


Matt Marinich (see pic above), formerly manager of Freo’s Sail & Anchor, now manning the fort at The Quarie

How was 2011 for you?
Extremely fun and rewarding. Bringing the Sail back to the tip of the craft beer spear in Australia and gaining the venue the title of Best Beer Venue in Australia. Unfortunately due to painful work conditions and lack of support, I had to break free and start working for a private operator that understands the needs to spend money in the right areas.

What was the highlight of the year?
Firstly, the birth of our daughter Mabel. Secondly, getting the Sail up to the highest standard of Beer Venue in Australia.

Anything that surprised you?
Being voted second best beer tender in Australia was a nice tip of hat!

The best beer you tasted all year.
Dude, where to start?! [Soft! – Crafty]

What would you most like to see in 2012?
WA craft beer in cans!!! C'mon! If I had a micro I would have done it two years ago. Someone please sort this out! Less head space for oxidation.


Steve Brockman, one of the two head brewers at The Monk in Freo

How was 2011 for you?
Personally a very big year – moved up from Margaret River to do the ECU Brewing Post Grad Diploma with Hugh Dunn, met some amazingly talented and passionate young brewers while studying. It was very satisfying finally finding a niche of people as passionate about good beer I was. To land a co-head brewing job at The Monk, with my good friend Paul Wyman, was spectacular as well, many thanks to ex-head brewer – Justin "Juzzy" Fox for a smooth transition. 


Paul_Left-and-Steve_Right
The Monk’s co-head brewers

 

What was the highlight of the year?
Getting involved in the Western Australian Brewing Organisation and putting our pedal to the metal until we finally ran the inaugural WA Craft Beer Showcase! After a few failed starts after the last couple of years it was awesome to see us come together to show just how strong our craft beer scene is in WA.

Also the first seasonal release from Paul and I, the Coconut Stout, finally hitting the taps was a moment I’ll cherish for quite a while. Your first commercial beer produced from scratch is always going to be a thrill!

Anything that surprised you?
Just how much good beer the Sail and Anchor was able to put on. The guest list always had something I hadn’t tried before which is rare in a pub. And Rex Attitude. What a surprise that was!

The best beer you tasted all year.
So many… Murray's 2IPA, Kooinda Black IPA, Yeastie Boys Rex Attitude, Firestone Walker Signature Range Double Jack Double IPA (part of a coup for the Monk's American Beer Week)

What would you most like to see in 2012?
A continued push by everyone, both locally and nationally, to push craft beer into glasses of Australian consumers. It's a very exciting time for craft beer in Australia, with the national body (or bodies) coming close to unifying a response, and growing the craft beer segment. I hope everyone can come together, realise the greater good in it for all of us, and just get on with it. More beer events, and continued success of events such as the WA Craft Beer Showcase will be really satisfying too.


Wade Curtis, founder of the 4 Hearts Brewing Company and instigator of a mini-craft beer revolution in his hometown of Ipswich

Wade-June

How was 2011 for you?
Awesome, several bars taking on 4 Degrees Pale Ale, the launch of Summer Wheat, a tap or two in Brisbane and the launch of both beers in five litre mini kegs. Overall an excellent year for 4 Hearts and craft beer in South East Queensland and great media coverage for Ipswich as the craft beer capital of Queensland.

What was the highlight of the year?
I think Queensland Homebrewing Conference (QHC) was the highlight, great people, great beers and great food, what more can you ask for! I think seeing Bitter Suite and The Scratch Bar opening were great too.

Anything that surprised you?
Getting a great response to the launch of 4 Degrees Pale Ale at the Platform Bar only to be told at the start of the year “our tap contracts mean we can’t have your beer on tap”, very sad.

The best beer you tasted all year.
Possibly the last two Little Creatures Single Batches: Dreadnought and Big Dipper. Had a Tokyo Black Horizon and Mikeller Beer Geek Breakfast on the night before QHC that were very nice too.

What would you most like to see in 2012?
More craft beer bars in Brissy and Ipswich, I would love to see 4 Hearts with a brewery to call home in 2012, not sure if that will happen. Definitely looking at having the Pale Ale in bottles for national distribution in 2012 and there is a rumour about a QLD tap takeover for Good Beer Week – that will be awesome. [Not just a rumour, Wade!]

I’d love to win a medal at the AIBA too this year! I’m also really looking forward to seeing 20 independent craft beer taps at the Yamanto Tavern early in the new year.


Paul Wyman, the other brewer at The Monk and Queenslander now working in WA so covering both bases in 2011!

How was 2011 for you?
2011 has been one of the best years yet, so much happened in such a short amount of time. The start of the year had me packing up all my things and driving across the whole of Australia from Brisbane, QLD to Perth, WA. Once here, like Steve, I started my studies of a Post Grad in Brewing at ECU with the beer master, Hugh Dunn to improve my beer knowledge and hopefully become a craft brewer one day. Was great to finally be around people who understand and appreciate top quality beer after being starved for so long in QLD, with the majority of the class now all having jobs in the brewing industry!

Then halfway through the year the opportunity of a lifetime popped up, with offer of becoming the brewer at The Monk Brewery in Fremantle, thanks to Justin Fox! Now the year has finished off with myself and my good mate Steve Brockman being the head brewers at The Monk, living our craft brewing dreams and hopefully change people’s perceptions of what beer can be!

What was the highlight of the year?
There were quite a few, firstly the great drive across Australia to pursue a beer appreciator’s dream with so much unknown, and then amazingly being given the opportunity to take over the reins at an award winning micro-brewery like the Monk. Another was having the opportunity to brew with the amazing guys at Stone & Wood for a week in beautiful Byron Bay; it was tough but someone has to do it! Lastly, the hard work my brewing partner Steve and many others put in to get the WA Beer showcase up and running was something special. To have so many award winning breweries in one place for the WA public to soak up especially when you take into account the distance some breweries travelled was great!

Anything that surprised you?
I was surprised by the beer culture that WA has. Generally, the drinker is a lot more educated and appreciates a well crafted beer. The Sail and Anchor is proof of that, what a treasure to have at our doorstep – their beer selection is out of this world! Not to mention the numerous bottleshops around WA like Mane Liquor who stock some 700 plus craft beers from around the world, it's a beer lovers heaven!

Secondly, would have to be how much my home state is starting to learn about craft beer with two new beer bars opening up, with more and more development in QLD craft beer happening daily. I hope to come home and be part of it one day but for now WA beer culture has been far too good to me!

The best beer you tasted all year
One of the worst questions for a beer lover…. Gosh, where to start… The Monk produced some great seasonals – The Bounty (a Coconut Stout) which tasted like lamingtons really changed people’s ideas of a dark beer and our own Amber Ale which showcases all the best parts of a beer: full malts, hops and bitterness! In Australia, Murrays has some great beers, their Angry Man (Brown Ale) and Icon 2IPA were special. Moo Brew are always solid, Feral is always doing something special and Bridge Road are really pushing the boundaries.

New Zealand is producing great beers, the whole range from Yeastie Boys is special, Epic is good and 8 Wired are amazing! From America, the Sierra Nevada range is fantastic, Rogue Dead Guy Ale and Hazelnut Brown Ale is something special and I had the privilege of trying the Stone Brewing Co., Pizza Port, Firestone Walker, Ballast Point and Lost Abbey beers to name a few at our own American Beer Week this year. The best wheat beers for the year would have to be the ever reliable Weihenstephaner, Sierra Nevada Hefe and Blanche de Namur.

What would you most like to see in 2012?
I would like to see QLD keep developing the craft beer presence that has started there over the last couple of years.

I would like to see the national bodies work out their differences so we can have one association take care of the whole brewing industry and in general improve the overall profile of craft beer in Australia. I think we can all agree on one thing that we want the average punter out there more aware of what craft beer is and how much better it is then the big breweries' beers.

I would like to see the Australia Government to review the current excise tax arrangements and give a tax in terms of overall volume being produced which is more in line with the current craft beer market which is growing daily!


That’s it then, folks. Hope your 2011 was as great as ours – and here’s to an even bigger year for Aussie craft beer in 2012. Cheers!

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