WA’s reputation as a must-visit destination for premium food and wine could be further bolstered by embracing our newest culinary craze – craft beer.
That is the view of Edith Cowan University hospitality management lecturer Nevil Alexander, who has had a front row seat to the state’s proliferation of small-batch suds as chief steward of the Perth Royal Beer Show.
There are now nearly 70 craft breweries in WA, with the highest concentrations in Perth, the Swan Valley and between Dunsborough and Margaret River.
Australia-wide an average of 68 new craft breweries have opened every year since 2014, with a closure rate of just 4 per cent.
Mr Nevil, who has interviewed brewers across the country as part of ongoing research into barriers faced by the industry, said better marketing of breweries could help the State Government reach its target of boosting tourism to $12 billion by 2020.
He said Tourism WA’s Taste 2020 campaign rightly focused on the gourmet food and wine culture of the South West but that he would like to see breweries sharing that spotlight.
“Craft breweries work very well with wineries and food, as they fit the premium reputation of the region, particularly the Margaret River brand,” Mr Alexander said.
“The craft brew experience would work best in combination with other activities, whether that is gourmet food, wineries or things like festivals and sporting events.
“This would help overcome concerns about the distance between breweries (one of the major issues identified by brewers) and provide those taking tours with a more enhanced experience.”
Launched in 2016 as a one-off brew for music festival Southbound, one of WA’s newest success stories, Otherside Brewing, proved so popular it can now be found in over 100 bottle shops around Perth.
And with demand continuing to grow, Otherside is now preparing to take up residence at a permanent home in Myaree at the end of April.
Otherside Brewing director David Chitty said the 20-hectolitre brewery would produce about 300,000 litres of beer per year, feature a cellar door and tap room and host a rotating cast of food trucks to entice visitors.
“Being given access to the same room where everything is made and drinking beer straight from the tank brings a genuineness to the experience,” he said.
“I think any industry that puts a lot of care and thought into how it is made and where it gets its ingredients from is reflective of where consumer tastes are going and craft brewing certainly does that.”