Perth Royal Beer Show chief judge Sean Symons is poised to open a state-of-the-art brewery in partnership with West Australian publicans, Gastev Group Collective.
The as-yet-unnamed brewery is located in a former function centre known as ‘The Barnyard’ adjacent to one of Gastev’s venues, the Vernon Arms Tavern in Baldivis, 46 km south of Perth CBD.
The brewery will have a tasting room and beer garden that will operate separately under its producers licence, while the Vernon will champion its beers. Over time the two venues may be merged together.
Symons, who was most recently brewing manager at Perth’s now defunct Swan Brewery, told Australian Brews News the Vernon Arms has a long history of celebrating a diverse range of beer styles.
As such he said the pub and its patrons will make excellent neighbours for the brewery. Gastev owns three additional venues in the Baldivis vicinity, which will also pour the beers.
Ultimately though Symons and his partners aim to have their beers distributed throughout WA as well as the eastern states and export markets such as Asia, where he has strong links in the beer industry.
As such, the impressive Baldivis facility comes complete with a flash pasteuriser, which Symons says is a necessity for exporting.
“If you’re looking to get your beer beyond Australian borders it becomes a natural add-on to the brewery,” he said.
Otherwise the kit supplied by China’s HGM Brewing comprises a 25-hectolitre brewhouse with a unique hexagonal layout, plus ten double brew fermenters and several bright beer tanks.
“I’ve gotten to build what I think is my idea of a great craft brewery, great in terms of state-of-the-art equipment, good technology, good process and good layout,” said Symons.
The brewery is situated in a wetlands area and cannot access the municipal trade waste systems used by most breweries, enabling them to simply pay a fee linked to the quality of the wastewater they discharge.
As such, installation of a wastewater treatment plant was necessary to ensure environmental approval for the project.
“We had to come up with a design that was going to treat all of our brewery wastewater and turn it into what’s known as Class A recycled water,” Symons said.
“You end up with water that you could drink. We won’t be using it for drinking but it’s perfectly good for irrigation and as we step into our landscaping plan the water will feature in parts of the landscape design around the site.
“Everything will be nice and green and lush and it will all be fed from the recycled water that comes from making the beer.”
It also has a vapour condenser, which converts steam from the brewery into hot water that can be reused in the brewing process.
Symons said he is currently considering what container type, size and versatility will best suit the brewery’s packaged product, which is about six months away.
“Part of that’s looking at what’s going to fit from a ‘beer personality’ point of view in a number of different markets. That’s a bit of a challenge,” he said.
He remains unconvinced that cans are necessarily the best container for beer that may have an extended shelf life.
“I think cans are a great container as long as you can package them correctly, keep them fresh and keep them cold,” he said.
“My thoughts are they may not hold up so well after an extended period of time, but that remains to be seen.
“Cans keep out light and for hoppy flavoursome beers, maybe that is the right thing to do.
“I’m still in two minds as to which path to take.
“We may even look at both containers depending on where we send the beer and what we’re trying to achieve,” Symons said.
Lager to launch
With commissioning of the brewery soon to start, Symons said the outfit’s first beer will be a Lager, to test the performance of the brewhouse.
Future beers are likely to include a mid-strength ale, a Belgian Wit and a Bohemian-style Pilsner, as well as seasonals that will be exclusive to the Vernon Arms.
Plans are also underway to host a Saturday market garden at the brewery featuring local produce, wines and beers.
The brand identity for the venture will be revealed in the coming weeks.