Chef Paul West emphasises importance of local

Chef Paul West has expressed the importance of local and independent breweries not only for the industry but for mainstream drinkers as well.

“I really feel like now, the independent breweries, in particular, are really finding their fate and their place within our communities,” West explained in an interview on the Beer is a Conversation podcast.

“I just love the idea that it feels like a brewery is almost as ubiquitous as a bakery or a butcher shop in towns in Australia.”

West made the comments during a discussion of his upcoming role as host of the ABC’s Big Brew Challenge on the Beer is a Conversation podcast.

“There’s not a country town in Australia or a suburb in a major city that doesn’t have their own brewery,” he said.

“And then because they’re there with the taphouse, in their own suburb in their own town, they know the punters and they know what they like to drink and there is that regional relationship.

“So, that’s the beautiful thing about it, right, then we’re creating this much more vibrant and rich ecosystem of breweries in Australia by having smaller independent breweries rather than just the big players,” he said.

For West, smaller breweries have an edge that can bring communities together through not just beer, but the atmosphere of the taphouse experience.

“They’re not just coming for the beer, they’re coming for the relationship they have with the brewer or they’re coming because there’s great food there as well.

“They’re coming because there’s local culture there. There might be art or bands and the big guys can’t compete with that. That’s not their business model.”

The challenge for smaller breweries, however, lies with distribution, West explained.

“When you try to play the big guys at their own game, which is national distribution, we’re talking, thousands or millions of litres of beer going out around Australia, there’s only a very small, small sliver of the independent beer community that has had success in doing that.

“But certainly the idea of the kind of local taphouse slash brewery, I think that’s what we’ll probably see more of in the Australian beer culture in the future.”

West also expressed how he hopes the Big Brew Challenge will continue to educate people about the craft industry.

“I just really feel like it’s that that industry is having its moment in the sun. And I hope that this catalyst program goes a long way to furthering that and just maybe demystifying a little bit of it, and just illustrating the fact that it is a craft.”

Guided by Philter Brewing Co. head brewer Samara Fuss, the Big Brew Challenge will see three teams of craft beer enthusiasts compete over three weeks for their beer to be crowned champion.

“There’s a big difference between being an enthusiast and being someone who actually really knows what they’re doing. And the understanding of the exacting science of brewing, but not just that, also, its connection to agriculture,” he said.

“We explored that in the program through Voyager craft malt, and the work that they do, and the fact that its essence is as a kind of alcoholic refreshment, but it’s also an agricultural product, it starts first and foremost in the barley field. So I think that was nice to kind of paint the full picture of what beer is.”

The Big Brew Challenge will air on the ABC and iView on Tuesday, 8th February at 8:30pm.

Listen to the full Beer is a Conversation episode with Paul West below.


Back to News