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Thorny Devil, one of Australia’s most awarded craft beers, it is available online, at your local bottle shop and in your local craft beer bar, your pub, hotel, club and fine dining restaurant: if not, ask us and we will organise all.

Craft beer industry to brew expansion for local farmers

A Western Australian brewer is hoping growth in the local craft beer industry will produce a virtuous circle for fruit, seafood and grain producers in the Great Southern region.

Albany brewer Matty Wilson has been making beer at home for several years, and is soon to open his own commercial brewery in a converted nursery on the South Coast Highway.

With paddock-to-plate, or paddock-to-pint, very much in fashion he hopes local producers will also benefit from Australia’s increasingly thirst for local boutique beer.

“We find the produce, especially in the South-West, is very flavoursome, it has its own defined flavour and that works really well for our beer,” Mr Wilson said.

Mr Wilson is currently brewing a batch with local honey and in the coming weeks will experiment with locally grown strawberries, muscles, oysters and apples, as well as mulberries from the Mid-West region.

Despite the growing number of boutique breweries across the state, locally grown hops are hard to source.

But there are some producers looking to fill that supply gap and Mr Wilson is also in the early stages of growing his own hops.

“Our barley is purchased from within WA, the hops are from Victoria and Tasmania,” he said.

“We would love to have those things available in Albany and people are starting to get there.

“The more beer we can make and get out there, the bigger those follow-on industries will get, which will be fantastic,” he said.

“That’s our goal, to keep it local, we want to employ local people, use as much local business as we can.”

A lifetime of preparation

Mr Wilson was inspired to brew beer by his cousin from Geraldton, who has won awards at the Perth Royal Beer Show.

“He kept bringing me these beers down and they were lovely beers,” Mr Wilson said.

“Then it just snowballed from there.”

For Mr Wilson, establishing a boutique brewery was a “culmination of every job I have done in my life”.

“I used to work with computers and that’s been great for the business side,” he said.

“Then I did an apprenticeship building custom wine tanks in Katanning, so learnt all about stainless steel and fabrication.

“I did a couple of years at the abattoir, and learnt about process chains and continuous improvement.

“I went up north and did the oil and gas and mining thing, and learnt a lot about litigation and big companies and also licensing.”

For Mr Wilson, who worked as a fly-in fly-out worker in the Pilbara for several years, living next door to his place of work and making craft beer is simply “fantastic”.

“I was working FIFO, I’ve got three beautiful little girls and a wife and it’s not really a fantastic lifestyle for little kids,” he said.

“We moved back from up north and there’s not a lot of local produce in the Pilbara, so down here there is a massive variety of fruits and vegetables.

The only downside? There is a lot of cleaning involved, he said.

“If you don’t love cleaning you can’t brew beer.”


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