Billabong’s Killer Wheat

Billabong’s Killer Wheat

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On the evening of the 2012 Perth Royal Beer Show Awards Presentation Gala, I was pondering which of Feral’s brews would win the trophy for Best Western Australian Beer. I wasn’t the only one who felt that the result was a foregone conclusion: the brewer sitting next to me suggested a game where we drained our glasses every time the serial winners won a trophy! So imagine our surprise when the night was over and the trophies for Best WA Beer and Best Commercial Beer had both been won by the little known Billabong Brewery, for their Bavarian Wheat.



In this era of resinous Double IPAs, tar-like Imperial Stouts, smoked this and barrel aged that, wheat beers tend to get forgotten by a lot of craft beer drinkers. For me, a cloudy Weissbier expertly poured into its traditional glass, topped with a mountain of soft-serve-like head is beer ecstasy in one of its purest forms.


Billabong’s wheat beer is a Kristalweizen – a pale wheat beer that has been filtered clear, in the same style as the Matilda Bay beer known as Redback Original (the original Redback was a cloudy hefeweizen). Billabong’s Bavarian Wheat is brewed with Australian pale and wheat malts, bittered with Bohemian Saaz hops and fermented with a classic German liquid yeast strain. The yeast is the star ingredient, producing classic wheat beer aromas and flavours of banana, vanilla and clove. I first tried the beer in the week prior to the 2012 PRBS awards and thought it to be every bit as good as the best Bavarian examples of the style.


So dominant was Billabong’s wheat beer at the 2012 PRBS that it won two gold medals (one each for draught and bottled) and four trophies all by itself! There to receive the accolades were the brewery’s owner and managing director, Alan Proctor, and head brewer Rob Murphy. Both men are humble about the brewery’s success, asserting that keeping their beer to a consistently high standard is foremost and that any awards or recognition are a nice bonus.


Proctor started Billabong in 1993 as Western Australia’s first brew-on-premise (BOP) operation. Today, Billabong is based in Myaree and still offers enthusiasts the opportunity to make their own beer on professional equipment at a fraction of the cost of commercial beer. Customers simply select a recipe from over 120 beer styles, follow the simple instructions and turn up two weeks (or more) later with clean bottles to package their beer. It’s a great introduction to brewing and something I wish I had done – to get a better understanding of the process – before I started home brewing. Perhaps a couple of drain-pour brews could have been avoided!




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