Hops and beers for Esperance firm

Corrina RidgwayThe West Australian

"Brew" the roo has bounded into the lives of beer aficionados in Esperance after the successful launch of Lucky Bay Brewery's local beer range.

Five years in the planning, the micro brewery gave locals a taste of their own, with its initial range of three boutique beers, brewed "by locals, for locals", using local produce.

The company's logo features the head of a kangaroo, affectionately named Brew.

Licensees Nigel Metz and Robyn Cail, with brewer Adam Cole, joined patrons at a packed-out Pier Hotel recently as they "tasted" their way through six kegs.

"We are extremely happy with the support," Mr Metz said.

"What was interesting was the mixed popularity. The pale ale was very popular, but our kolsch was a close second," Mr Metz said.

Clients from as far afield as Geraldton were enjoying a rurally brewed coldie, Mr Metz said.

"We sent two kegs to Geraldton for two separate parties, but apparently the kegs both went on the first night - the feedback so far has been very positive," he said.

A project officer for the South East Premium Wheat Association, Mr Metz said the idea came from a Grains Research and Development Corporation project in 2010.

"The project looked at getting Asian brewers to use more barley and less rice. One of the reasons why Interflour has established a new malt house within Vietnam is due to the country having the largest-growing beer consumption in South-East Asia," he said.

Mr Metz realised the potential of the quality malts grown in the State, a key factor in Interflour's Vietnamese operation.

He also recognised Esperance's strong home-brew culture and a passion for local produce.

The brewery is the first commercial micro brewery in the region and, for Mr Metz, it is all about keeping it local and Australian.

Malts used are almost exclusively Australian and all barley is sourced locally from a producer in the region and selected for certain characteristics.

"At the moment we are using Bass but will be changing to La Trobe," he said.

"There's a lot of it locally available and it shows good extract in terms of its genetic background. I look for grain size and high protein content, higher than what's traditionally used brewing."

Mr Metz says his SEPWA background and the trials data has been an amazing source of information.

"I believe we have an exceptional selection of barleys and all the skill and equipment to create our own beer styles. Even in WA we have a great variation in rainfalls and varieties," Mr Metz said.

So far, the range includes Thistle Cove Scottish Ale, Skippy Rock Kolsch and Sandy Hook Pale Ale. Mr Metz says the 4.5 per cent pale ale has been over five years in the makinglikening its style to that of James Squire and Lazy Yak brews.

The Scottish ale is a personal recipe of brewer Adam Cope.

Mr Metz and Mr Cope say the range will expand with speciality brews from time to time. Dedicated home-brewer Mr Cope said he was excited.

"It's an awesome place to work, it's given me the freedom to brew," he said.

"The more challenging brews are yet to come and Esperance is ready for it, people are being more adventurous and want to step outside of the pale lager world.

"We have some great recipes to try."

The brewery has been a welcome reason to have a drink after a trying harvest in the region, increasing the importance of local community.

"The Cascades Fire Brigade purchased a keg for their fire debrief, and our kolsch was named by a Cascades lad," Mr Metz said.

Now in its ninth week of operations, the production-only facility has the capacity to brew up to 3000 litres in its custom vats.

The process from on-site milling through to final kegging takes about two weeks.

"We will have a bottled range available in some local bottle shops and hopefully get our beer on tap at a few Esperance venues," Mr Metz said. "We will also have two-litre growlers available to purchase and refill."

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