30/05/2006 - 22:00

Sustainable philosophy drives Mash

30/05/2006 - 22:00


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The latest brewery in the Swan Valley, Mash, is quickly carving out a reputation for being the region’s premium beer destination.

Sustainable philosophy drives Mash

The latest brewery in the Swan Valley, Mash, is quickly carving out a reputation for being the region’s premium beer destination.

More than $1 million has been spent converting the premises on West Swan Road into a sleek and stylish microbrewery and restaurant.

It’s claimed the site was once a watering station for drovers transporting camels to the state’s north, but now five handcrafted beers and one seasonal creation are whetting the appetites of local connoisseurs just a short drive from the city.

“We had 500 people come through here last Sunday,” Mash director Brad Cox says.

Not bad considering Mash opened in April and is now the valley’s fifth microbrewery.

But the thing that seems to set Mash apart is its drive to emulate the true ethos of a microbrewery – one that holds the purity and the natural quality of the beer at a premium. As any beer lover will attest, a craft beer should be well separated from commercial beers on the basis of taste, aroma and texture.

A quick tour of the facility by head brewer Dan Turley reveals all the polished steel wizardry that has now become commonplace in microbreweries around Australia. With capacity to brew up to 130,000 litres of beer a year, the operation is still testing the waters but finding success in the early stages.

The five beers currently available make for interesting reading (and drinking).

Mash brews a generously hopped pale ale, a dark lager made from Australian and imported malts and grains, an interesting Mexican lager (think an Australian Corona designed to be drunk with a lemon slice), a cream ale known as 50:50 (slightly lower in alcohol but with a full flavour and creamy head), and a very appealing wheat beer.

Smelling intensely of bananas and soft sherbet, at 4.7 per cent the wheat beer has emerged as an early favourite among Mash patrons.

Mr Cox describes Mash’s beer philosophy as one aimed at contemporary beer palates but stresses that the whole operation is grounded in a vision for sustainable business.

“Right from the outset we had a plan that this place was going to be from the earth, but would give back to the earth. This means that we recycle our water, practice environmentally sound business practices – we even recycle our spent grains,” Mr Cox says.

A local pig farmer picks up Mash’s grains when they’ve done their work making beer.

The farmer has a pint or two at the brewery and then takes the grain back to his pigs, insisting that nothing should go to waste and that it will only be beneficial to the taste of his pork.

Speaking about food, Mash is far from a one trick pony – it also houses a restaurant that produces food that more than stands up to the beer.

Getting the brief to design a menu and cook food specifically to match beer is not an everyday occurrence in the life of a chef, but executive chef Noel Gibellini handles the job well.

You could almost assume the task would be easier – just steak and chips with no frilly lettuce to confuse the punters; but it is far from that.

The menu offers easy, uncomplicated food focused on the relaxed, convivial style of Australian dining.

There is a steak sandwich in the menu, but it is a great steak sandwich. There are chips on the menu but they are beer battered (in Mash beer of course); they are a simple yet very effective point of difference.

Mr Gibellini also finds room for Tuscan marinated lamb skewers, beef fillet with onion marmalade, and in a nod to his days at Vultures, a Poor Boy with grilled chicken, prawns and Cajun mayonnaise.

As it stands, Mash is pursuing options to have off-premises facilities for its beers, but in the meantime it remains an important reason why the Swan Valley can currently boast producing WA’s most eclectic range of beers.


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