SOURCING local products is a top priority for Beer Garden Brewing.
Since its inception last year, every beer bottled at the Port Lincoln craft brewery has contained a percentage of grain grown on the Eyre Peninsula.
The first batches of the company’s Eyre Peninsula ale contained raw barley grown on a farm at Cummins, while the latest batch has origins from Cowell.
Farms at Darke Peak have also been targeted as suppliers, with their raw barley included in the Original Sin coffee stout.
These local grains are usually mixed with a variety of malted barley sourced from further afield – as they cannot be found on the peninsula – to create a range of pale ale, lager, stout and weisse beers.
Passionate about SA, local produce and sustainability, owners Mark and Janie Butterworth said their long-term goal was to use all EP products.
“We feel strongly about supporting local businesses and showcasing what the EP has to offer and the value that can be added to what we produce,” Ms Butterworth said.
“We’re proud to turn the hard work of local farmers into tasty beers for all to enjoy.
“In our ideal world, we would malt our own 100 per cent local base malt, but that is a fair way down the track.”
Port Lincoln has long been known for exporting bulk commodities and seafood, known as Australia’s seafood capital, but the Butterworths feel there is an untold story within EP farming and aim to fill that gap.
“Local grains are an important element for us as we are keen to tell the story of what can happen to the product of farming, which has supported this region for more than a century, but is increasingly falling out of direct use on the EP,” Ms Butterworth said.
“The EP grows high quality barley, as well as other crops, which many on the EP may not appreciate.”
A majority of the grain processed at the site, which was formerly the town bakery, is malted barley that has undergone the process of steeping, germination and kilning.
“Raw barley must be malting grade, free of any contaminants such as rock which can cause fires in our mill through sparking, and a consistent level of protein,” Mr Butterworth said.
“The proteins can make brewing with raw barley difficult since if we don’t control them we can end up with haze issues in the final product.
“Scope is often referred to as the best malting barley to use, but its use is in decline and we essentially get what we’re given from maltsters.”
Brewing begins by heating the water to about 65 degrees, adding the grain, dissolving the sugars, separating the sugary solution from the grain husk, and then boiling it for between 60 and 90 minutes.
Then, the hops are added, it’s left to cool down and the yeast is pitched.
There is about a three-week wait before the sugars are fermented and the beer is clean and carbonate and packaged into either kegs or bottles for consumption at the brewery or distribution to a couple of locations on the peninsula, including 1802 at Coffin Bay, Boston Bay Wines and some drive-through liquor stores in Port Lincoln and Coffin Bay.
Sticking with the local theme, but also adding an element of sustainability, the Butterworths donate all spent grain to local farmers for cattle feed.
Mr Butterworth said more than a dozen primary producers called into the brewery each week, often interested in how, where and when the Butterworths get their hands on wheat and barley, and why they select the varieties they do.
“They often ask about why malting grade is important and whether it’s used directly in the beer or not,” he said.
“One of the key things they want to know is whether we use Australian malts, which we do in the vast majority of beers except for a few that have styles that require a different style of barley, such as Maris Otter for an English ale.”
Ms Butterworth, an analytical chemist and biochemist, and Mr Butterworth, a chemical engineer, moved from Roxby Downs to Port Lincoln with their three sons at the end of 2015 to be closer to family.
They said the transition from a multinational mining company to being self employed in a capital-intensive business had not been easy, but their dedication to the industry and studies in science and business had prepared them for some of the challenges.
“We’re passionate about what we’re doing and are keen to show locals how science can turn the great local grain we produce on the EP into an enjoyable product,” Mr Butterworth said.
- Details: View the range at beergardenbrewing.com