23/08/2005 - 22:00

Cowaramup brewer hops to it

23/08/2005 - 22:00


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Grassroots support has been vital in securing Western Australia’s reputation as the nation’s home of hand-crafted boutique beers.

Cowaramup brewer hops to it

Grassroots support has been vital in securing Western Australia’s reputation as the nation’s home of hand-crafted boutique beers.

And husband and wife team Jeremy Good and Claire Parker know only too well the value of local support, having been overwhelmed by the support they have received for their project, the Cowaramup Brewing Company.

About 2,500 people signed a petition endorsing the proposed 800-litre microbrewery, now being built on North Treeton Road. Mr Good says his receipt of 35 letters of support from local business owners typifies the amazing level of assistance the Cowaramup community has shown for the project.

And it’s not just locals, such as Treeton Estate Winery, Churchview Estate and Adinfern, showing their support. Local breweries such as Bootleg, Bug Ocean and Wicked Ale are also welcoming the newcomers.

“People have been saying that it [the brewery] will add another dimension to the Cowaramup district,” Mr Good says.

“The location chose itself in this respect – we identified Cowaramup as a tourist destination in its own right.”

And WA’s newest microbrewery wants to continue this state’s impressive boutique beer pedigree. It will join impressive operators including Ironbark Brewery, the Last Drop, Nail Brewing, Feral Brewing, the now iconoclastic Little Creatures, and even Pemberton’s new beer destination, Jarrah Jacks Brewery.

Mr Good believes that, even though the beer market is routinely told of stagnant sales figures and declining revenue, the premium end of the market is on the increase.

“There is a steady growth in this end of the market of five to 7 per cent. And the success of craft breweries in WA lends support to this,” he says.

Chief among the factors contributing to the success of boutique styles of beer is their uniqueness and adaptability, according to Mr Good.

“That’s the best thing about micro-brewers. The smaller the brewery, the more it can support speciality styles of beer – to promote the individuality of lesser known styles,” he says.

“These types of operations will never take market share away from mainstream breweries, but they can be responsible for some of the best beer available.”

And to that end, the Cowaramup Brewing Company plans to take full advantage of their secret beer weapon – WA-grown hops.

For, as Mr Good explains, hops are to beer what grapes are to wine – the essential character-defining ingredient.

Already the veterans of two hop harvests, the brewery currently grows nine different varieties of hops on site. But more importantly, the initial harvest in February 2004 was the first hops harvest in WA in 25 years.

Hops were last grown in Manjimup to supply the Swan Brewery back in the heady days of the WA brewing empire. That market ceased in the early 1970s.

“They’re an amazing plant,” Mr Good says. “They can grow up to a foot a day. You joke about being able to watch the grass grow, but it’s true about hops.”

It’s hoped WA-grown hops will impart a unique quality on the Cowaramup beer. “In describing the taste, it’s a little like the difference between a Margaret River shiraz and a Swan Valley shiraz. To a wine connoisseur, the characteristics in each will be completely different,” Mr Good says.

Canadian company DME is assembling equipment for the new brewery.

It already has a significant presence in WA, having supplied much of the equipment in some of the state’s busiest and most successful microbreweries

Cowaramup Brewing Company, which will launch in August 2006, aims to be as much a family friendly environment as a successful brew house. With their budding operation, Jeremy Good and Claire Parker are seeking to emulate the community ethos that helped support them.


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