After four years Western Australia’s gold-medal-winning Innate Brewers has finally got a promotional poster into the wider community.
And it is extra-large in size.
The small operation from Spearwood in Perth’s south this week released its first packaged product which will serve as a bright garnet-coloured in-store billboard to push the brand’s identity into the hands of more beer drinkers.
The Renegade Red IPA (6.8%) is a watershed product for Innate.
Originally started by four couples who had a desire to make their own beers, the progress of Innate hasn’t been meteoric. But it has been fruitful. And not just in the hoppy way.
The pint-sized brewery is tucked away in a small industrial complex blanketed by suburbia. It isn’t easy to find, but without a cellar door, just a roller door, Innate don’t promote visits from the public.
However, plenty in the WA beer community have called on their wares at pubs and bars around the metropolis, particularly throughout the Fremantle entertainment belt.
Realising the hobby needed expertise to grow the Innate ownership recruited Joel Nash (ex-Colonial, Gage Roads and Indian Ocean) to make the beers three summers ago and as a result, the brewery became renowned for quality small batch offerings from a patchworked 1000-litre kit.
By treating the brewery like a 57 Chevy with a motor that relied heavily on the choke valve, Nash delivered some top gear beers. At the 2017 Australian International Beer Awards Watch This Space IIPA collected a gold medal in the Imperial India Pale Ale class.
A 12HL set of stainless still was subsequently installed and a few months later the same brew took home a similar coloured prize from the Perth Royal Beer Show. Then advance 12 months and the Innate Bullet Proof Black IPA gained the Best Dark Ale Draught Trophy at the annual WA gongs.
So Innate was punching well above its weight of around 50,000 litres of beer a year. Not bad for a business very much owned by family and friends without the big cash injections.
The limitations to capital meant Nash was restricted to keg releases. That is over now. In a big way.
Innate borrowed a canning machine to produce 2000 440ml cans of the Red IPA ensuring the word – and the beer – would stretch a bit farther.
“It has been so hard with just kegs to get to people,” Nash said. “We are selling to the venue manager not the public and there are only 50 venue managers.
“But hopefully with the cans more people will get to taste our beer, people start to want it and the pubs will want the draught beer because of the uptake of our brand.
“We kegged a batch of Renegade a week before we canned it. We have had fairly slow venue sales but we’ve already sold out the cans. It is not that there isn’t the demand for our beers, it is just that the taps are so tight.
“From this point we can build up a bit of momentum with some more cans. If you can’t get the beer into people’s hands there is no point. So the cans had to happen. And they are now.”
The Renegade Red IPA is as sweet as a partner’s kiss early in the taste as the malt delivers a caramel and burnt toast edge before the Simcoe and Vic Secret, the latter used to dry hop, provide a smooth orange appeal.
Nash admitted the idea to go with the bigger cans was two-pronged.
“Because of our size we can’t get into the competition with brewery X and brewery Y over a cheap carton or six-pack,” Nash said.
“But we thought if people were keen to grab a 375ml can of ours they will be just as keen to take a 440ml, maybe a couple, and we can get more beer out there.
“I’m fine with the idea. It might give us a point of difference on the shelf as well.”
Innate has plans to soon can a raspberry and cranberry sour before packaging the prized Watch This Space.