BierTalk English 32 – Talk with Nick Galton-Fenzi, Brewing and Destilling Consultant from Perth, Australia

Nick Galton-Fenzi advises breweries and distilleries in Western Australia, of varying sizes and with different offerings. In total, there are over 100 active breweries in his region and he is a vibrant part of this scene. The capital Perth is one of the most isolated places in the world, with plenty of sea and desert around it. That’s why the beers there are unique and are made with local ingredients, especially barley and wheat. Nick takes us into this exciting world in the podcast and tells us about his unique story as a brewer in many countries around the globe…

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Zusammenfassung auf Deutsch:

Nick Galton-Fenzi ist Berater für sechs Destillerien für Gin und Wodka sowie drei Brauereien. Er diskutiert die einzigartigen Braubedingungen in Westaustralien, einschließlich des lokalen Anbaus von Malzgerste und Hopfen.

Galton-Fenzis Weg zum Brauen begann in seiner Jugend, als er mit abgelaufenen Braukits experimentierte. Er betrieb später seine eigene Brauerei, Beaten Track Brewery, und setzte sich für die Lockerung der Braugesetze in Westaustralien ein. Galton-Fenzi hat international Erfahrungen in der Bierbranche gesammelt und in über 50 Brauereien in 23 Ländern gearbeitet.

Das australische Biermarkt hat sich von wenigen großen Brauereien zu einer vielfältigen Landschaft mit vielen kleinen Brauereien entwickelt. Der Markt bietet nun eine breite Palette an Bierstilen, von traditionellen australischen Bieren wie Coopers Sparkling Ale bis hin zu modernen Craft-Bieren. Galton-Fenzi ist auch in der Destillation tätig und betont die Bedeutung von hochwertigen Rohstoffen und Wasserqualität.

Schließlich lädt er Interessierte ein, ihn in Westaustralien zu besuchen, um die lokale Bier- und Spirituosenkultur zu erleben.



Markus Raupach: Hello, and welcome to another episode of our podcast BierTalk. Today we do maybe the farest journey we ever did. So we go to the other half of the planet. We go to Australia first time and we meet a nice friend, dear friend of mine, beer judge, colleague, and great brewer, Nick Galton-Fenzi. And he’s back there I would say because we come to his history in a few moments. So it’s great to have you here, Nick and yeah, maybe you introduce yourself a little bit to our listeners.

Nick Galton-Fenzi: Thank you, Markus, thank you very much for the invite to speak with you this afternoon. Oh, your morning time and my this afternoon.

Markus Raupach: Yeah, that’s a bit crazy that we have all these hours between us. But we both have sunlight. So that’s maybe, I hope so. Yes. So that’s a great thing. So maybe first we talk about your actual situation. So you are in Australia at the moment. So what are you doing? Which brewery are you working for? What is your daily life at the moment?

Nick Galton-Fenzi: Absolutely. So I am a consultant brewer and distiller in Perth, in Western Australia. I run six distilleries, mostly doing gin and vodka production and I also operate three breweries that do a brewpub type situation. So we have over-the-counter customers, retail, and packaged and takeaway products from the breweries. They’re all very small venues, there’s nothing that’s particularly large about either of them. However, in Western Australia, we have around 100/115, operational micro pub, small breweries and those three breweries that we do run, or I run, we have a small market share.

Markus Raupach: Wow, that still sounds like a lot of work and it’s also for us, very interesting, very fascinating. If we think of Australia, we have this huge continent. And we know some of the coastal cities in the East, in the West, and that’s more or less our shape. Maybe in the middle there is this rock. It’s more or less everything we know, some maybe know about the barrier reef and something like this. But maybe you can introduce a little bit into the country. So is it really only on the coastline? Or is there also something in between? And is it a common thing? Or is it more like there are the Eastern people, the Western people? Or how is it organized?

Nick Galton-Fenzi: So Western Australia and Perth is the most isolated city in the entire planet. From a flight from London you can do a direct flight and it is a 20-hour direct flight. So we are by no means accessible. You can come through Singapore, through Hong Kong, through Doha. Whichever way you go, you are still looking at somewhere between 20 and 26 hours of transit time. So we are very isolated as far as the population. As a consequence, our beers are quite unique. We are located in a place called the wheat belt. And the wheat belt is our largest agricultural region and takes up the furtherest southwest area of Western Australia, and we get some very high-quality wheat and malting barley. We have some local growers of malting barley which are of excellent quality and we have some very unique conditions. Obviously in winter, we get some very wet conditions and when we do get drought, it is substantial. And the drought regions means that we sometimes end up with some malting barley that is of small kernel size. So it means we have some husk to starch ratios that gives us some very unique flavor profiles. As far as WA goes we also have some local hop growers and we were originally known for hop-growing regions that then got taken over by tobacco, that were then converted into wine growing. And now we’re just starting to see a resurgence back into hop growing again, which is great for the area. So we do have now local maltings, local hop growers and a variety of locally produced raw products that we can now use in our beer production, which is amazing.

Markus Raupach: Yeah, and how many people live in the area in Western Australia?

Nick Galton-Fenzi: So when I moved into Western Australia, we were just on 1.2 million people. We are just on, just shy of 3 million now. So it’s almost a doubling of population. The doubling in population means that we have a very thirsty population. We have very hot summers, we’re talking 37 degrees centigrade in summer, and we have very cold winters, which are around five degrees centigrade in winter. So we need to cater for both of those seasons as far as growing, and with that level of population, which means that business is fairly good. And when I started my first brewery here in Western Australia, I was in under 20 of the first breweries that were here. And now, as I said, there’s over 100 breweries, due to some changes in legislation and the consumer is probably the winner out of all these aspects.

Markus Raupach: Yes, and we are coming a little bit to your personal history, which is, I think, also very interesting. So you were born in Western Australia.

Nick Galton-Fenzi: Yes, I’m an international. I was born in Papua New Guinea in Goroka. I was raised there and then moved to Sydney, Queensland, and then Western Australia. I spent some time in Africa and in the UK when growing up, but most of my time was in Western Australia. And it’s in the last seven years that I had spent working and living in UK, had the opportunity to obviously travel and meet people like yourself at the international competitions and get to meet people in Africa. I’ve worked in over 50 breweries in 23 countries in the last seven years, which has given me quite a well-rounded understanding about how people produce beer in different countries, about their raw materials, and the different ways in which people appreciate the products that are abrood to their palates.

Markus Raupach: Wow, that’s very fast-paced, and very great overview that you also now have of a brewing sector and all over the world. Do you still remember your first beer?

Nick Galton-Fenzi: I do. Absolutely, I do. This is a bit of a crazy story. This is what got me into brewing originally. So my best friend at school, we were 16. My best friend Andrew Biggs, we were cleaning out his father’s garage and we stumbled across what was called an Alinda fermenter. And the Alinda fermenter was one of the very first imports into Australia. It was a black plastic 25-litre all-in-one kit and kilo. Before you’d seen Alinda fermenters there was nothing that was really sort of available. Cooper’s was only just sort of starting to get up and going. So anyone who’s used Cooper’s kits, we’re talking about mid to late 70s. So we finished cleaning out the garage, we’d found one of his fermenters, and we’d found some kits of Cooper’s that were ten years over past due date, which still had the original yeast on them. And his father said, as soon as we have finished cleaning out a garage, I’ll teach you how to make beer because this is what I did in my youth and it was great fun, and I learned a lot. So the beer we made was obviously terrible. The kits were well past the due date, the yeast probably wasn’t even viable at that stage. I’m going to say it was probably more of a lactobacillus fermentation than it was out of any other anaerobic activity. I at that point went, this is terrible. There must be a better way to make beer. I’ve drunk commercial beer and it’s great. But this is probably one of the worst things I’ve put in my mouth. So I made a little bit of a quest of mine to work out why, how. I then spent four years at university doing biology environmental and biochemistry not for that focus. It was an interest, science, thanks to my father. But to then work out how to make a good beer. And 25 years later, I would like to think that I can make an acceptably drinkable beer. But it’s taken me 25 years to learn and I have had my conscience, my what’s the word I’m looking for, my ass handed to me several times by some very, very competent brewers when I thought I knew how to make it all and what the best way to do it and what my knowledge was, and to what I am now learned today and how I learn it. So when my, I ran my own brewery for 13 years, I started Beaten Track Brewery in Kalgoorlie in Western Australia in 2005 and that gave me an understanding about market, demographics, people. And then as that further went through, I then thought that I knew everything. I thought that I understood how to make beer and by the time I reached UK, and I was brewing for one of Dorset’s largest brewing companies, Dorset Brewing, doing production for Wetherspoons, Marstons, I was the youngest brewer on the deck at that stage. And what the people there had taught me, and just me, yes, I had a lot to learn even after 13 years of practical brewing experience.

Markus Raupach: But it started like a hobby, and when, how did the decision go that you say okay, I make my earnings out of it. So I started as an own company. So how did that go? How did it work?

Nick Galton-Fenzi: That’s a very good question. It was a hobby and it was a passion of mine to understand the biology, understand the production processes, understand if I change this malt what was the flavor effects out of it. And I started originally home brewing and I would have people come around to my house and I would try the beers on tap. And I had a little three-tap system that I had built. This is in very early days, we’re talking 1998 in Western Australia, before people had really sort of even considered what home brewing was, what craft brewing. Our first craft brewer in Western Australia, which is the Bootleg Brewing in Margaret River region in 1988, and all this, I mean, it’s a long and a short period at the same time, ten years. And I was trying to replicate some of the things that the Bootleg Brewing had done. So I was brewing, people are interested in the products and they said you should sell this, it’s a good product. So I started seeking out a commercial premises, which was a powder coaters. So this is industrial warehouse that came up for sale. I had purchased the warehouse itself and speaking with the owners who were renting it out at the time, it almost sent me broke three times by the time I had purchased, I had made mortgage payments. I was working at the time trying to pay down until I could afford to actually move into the building. And by the time I’d moved in, I then started building a brewery. And it took me four years to build the cool rooms, the tap and tasting room. Unfortunately, Western Australia at the time, it was 2014, we could only sell under this particular license beer by nine liters. That was the smallest volume we could sell it. We couldn’t do tap tastings, we couldn’t do taproom events, you couldn’t even have someone come in and buy a middy schooner or a pint at that stage either.

Markus Raupach: So if I would have come to the pub, I would have to buy nine litres of beer?

Nick Galton-Fenzi: You would have had to buy nine litres as a takeaway, or I could have given you one or two free samples. But that was it. You couldn’t do anything more than that. If I had served you anything more than two or three samples, then I would have been in breach of my production license. So I then started lobbying the West Australian government and that took me two years. I had to get support from the smaller brewers, the middle-sized brewers. I had pushback from large brewers obviously because it was going to eat into their market share. I had pushback on smaller brewers that had tavern-style licenses. Whichever way I go, I had met market insurrection that no one was particularly happy about what I was doing. Two years later, by the time I managed to push through tap tasting rooms, any size takeaways from a producer’s license, there was 20 breweries that had then put in their licenses for assessment following the changes to the legislation. So that revolutionized brewing in Western Australia. And since then, it has been a significant growth market under a producer’s based license. And so whether it may be good for some of the producers or bad for some of the producers, I think it’s a good thing for the consumers who now had a significant choice.

Markus Raupach: And now you get a lot of free biers if you meet your colleagues in Western Australia, I think.

Nick Galton-Fenzi: I always remember that time, it’s a long time ago, we’re talking 2014 through to 2016. So it’s six years and a lot of the people who are starting breweries now, weren’t even part of that process. They wouldn’t have even remembered the nine-litre minimum production, minimum sell on a producer’s license back in 2005. So those who do I get very well looked after and those who don’t, that is amazing for their business.

Markus Raupach: And so it was a tough time also for you. And what about your family? Did they always back you? Or were maybe from your parents sometimes why don’t you be a teacher or a policeman or whatever? Stop that.

Nick Galton-Fenzi: I was working in two roles. So I was also working in mining at the time as well and I was also working the brewery. So I was doing on average, as with every brewery owner, producer, around 16 hours a week, sorry, 16 hours a day, and somewhere between 75 and 85 hours a week. So anyone who’s run their own business will be well familiar with the amount of hours that you need to do in order to do it. And it’s not because you want to make money. Anyone who wants to get into brewing to make money, it’s a flawed plan. But if you have a genuine interest in the product, and the demographic and the people and the science behind it, then you will gain a it’s a wonderful job. But there’s many other ways to make money that’s a lot easier, but not in brewing.

Markus Raupach: So your family was with you. They loved your beers. At least then.

Nick Galton-Fenzi: They did. My parents were very much into it. And I was self-funded. My parents gave me an understanding into science and how that worked, and I took that and ran. And it was very much thanks to my dad, Brian, who taught me all these things. And then said, this is how you do it. And then, Bill Biggs, who had the garage and the clean out, and he was an avid scientist as well, and how his understanding and imparting his information into that. So it was all science-based.

Markus Raupach: Wow. That’s the best base for making good beer. So that’s very good. Maybe also have a little look, how was the Australian beer market in these times, the 80s, the 90s? And how is it today? Maybe you give us a little overview what we will find if we come there today and how it developed in the last 20 years.

Nick Galton-Fenzi: Completely. It’s a really, really good question.

Markus Raupach: For people who don’t have any clue about Australian beer market. So for us, we only know Foster’s.

Nick Galton-Fenzi: Yes, so I guess that’s one of the most unusual things is that you will not find Foster’s in Australia at all. It is for sale in, it’s a very well-marketed, and it’s brewed under license in every single country. So if you are buying it in Germany, in Belgium, in England. If it’s in England it’s brewed at Caldicott. It’s brewed in Belgium, it’s brewed under license. It is a great product in everywhere that you go. It’s consistent for its market share. But if you expect to walk into Australia and buy Fosters, you will never ever see a tap here. We have some great brewers, the megas, and they meet the market demand into their market share. Small brewers, microbrewers, we can’t meet the demand for the drinkers. We can only produce so much. The larger brewers meet that volumetric demand. And we have some great brewers. Not every beer is to everyone’s flavour and taste. So you will find something when you get to Australia that you will particularly enjoy. And then if you want to investigate the smaller micro-niche market, then there are thousands of offerings that you will find that will meet your taste and flavour. So in the 80s, we had smaller offerings from very big corporations. We had the Alan Bonds of the world that were buying up large breweries, consolidating and making them into even larger breweries. We would have, if you were out buying beer at a public license, maybe one of four, it was about all that you would have the pick of. With the opening up of the market with the interest in microbrewing, which was spearheaded by a lot of the US brewers, Sierra Nevada, Pete Slosberg, Pete’s Wicked Ales, and even the smaller breweries in UK, things like Dorset Brewing Company and Bill Sharp before they’d been taken over, these breweries were small and met the market requirements. So you had this massive, massive offerings as in massive companies, small offerings. And then as you went through, you would then have more and more diversification, smaller and smaller companies with more and more offerings. And now we’ve run into the 2020s and you have so many little breweries with so many offerings and you can find yourself a chocolate peanut, double lactose stout, and you can find the most amazing single hop, single malt pilsner through single origin producers. And it’s really up to the consumer about what they want to drink, and which direction they would like to head as far as the products go.

Markus Raupach: That sounds a little bit that also the consumers change. Their knowledge, their mind changed, their tastes changed. Is that true?

Nick Galton-Fenzi: Correct, yes. I spent a lot of time in my first brewery, in Beaten Track in Kalgoorlie and I would have customers who would walk in, and I’d say, well, what do you normally drink and they would say, oh we drink Swan draft. I would drink Jack Daniels. I said, okay, so if you’re a Swan draft drinker, you’re going to like something that’s light, dry and crisp. The closest thing that we have to that is the summer ale. If they were Jack Daniels drinkers, it would be strong, and darker and sweet, and definitely with a focus on sweet. So we’d focus in on things like the scotch ale. And say, it’s not a whiskey, but it might meet your palate requirements of dry and sweet and slightly stronger as far as the tastes and flavours. So you would match your customer to the type of flavors that they were familiar with. And again, with any sort of human emotion, it’s familiarity and routine. And if you can pick something that a customer likes as far as taste and flavour, and something that they’ve experienced before, and say, okay, this is the bridging and it was taken from New Belgium, the ethos was essentially taken from places like New Belgium Brewing with a Fat Tire. And when a customer would walk in and say, I like Coors Light, and they would say, well, we don’t have Coors Light. But what we do have is we have Fat Tire for you. And they would say, oh this is actually quite tasty. This is not the same, but it’s something I’m familiar with. And then one consumer, one drink, one customer at a time, would then go, oh, this is actually not the same product, but a different product that I enjoy. And I like the taste and like the flavours. And that’s how you win over customers and customer appreciation and repeat customers by basing it on something they already had but giving a little bit of a twist, a little bit more taste, a little bit more flavour, a little bit more care, attention, some local ingredients, some local hop producers, some local malt producers. And then hopefully then that reaches into the realms of that farm-to-table, the farm-to-plate sort of scenarios where you are now supporting local people, local malts, rather than always going to the largest consumers, multi-conglomerates. And they’ve got a place and they got the time, but bring it back that little step and give a little bit more care, attention, consumer focus to the product.

Markus Raupach: And is there an Australian beer history and maybe even Australian beer styles?

Nick Galton-Fenzi: Of course. So our oldest and most well-known is the Cooper’s and Cooper’s Sparkling Ale. So when you look through the BJCP style guidelines, you’re looking to the Cooper style and that is the quintessential. It’s earthy, it’s woody, it is dark. We’ve got crystal malts, we’ve got some slightly darker sort of Munich malts, amber malts in this. It’s robust. It’s a flavour sensation. If you’ve never had a Cooper’s Red Ale from a 750 mil long neck bottle, it is just a flavour epiphany. You are not going to necessarily gel with it the very first time because it is a very robust flavour. But I think everyone at some stage needs to try that particular beer because it is Australia’s first oldest sort of style ale. It’s produced in South Australia and Timothy Cooper who runs and still manages the brewery, and if you ever get a chance to contact him about his history, you will be absolutely blown away by where they are, where they’ve come from and how they’ve managed to maintain such a market presence up until now.

Markus Raupach: And is this also the Australian Pale Ale? Or is this a different thing?

Nick Galton-Fenzi: So under the BJCP guidelines my take on this is, it’s supposed to be an Australian sparkling, Australian Pale Ale is supposed to be the Cooper Sparkling. It’s what it’s supposed to be modelled on. It is a very, very unique type of beer and we’ve never had anything prior to it, we’ve never had anything post to it. And I think that’s probably maybe where a lot of us judges sort of go wrong. You can read the descriptions in the guidelines, but unless I think you’ve tasted the actual original, and done a side-by-side to what some of the competition offerings are, it’s an absolute minefield. But there’s nothing quite like it. Once you’ve tasted Australian Sparkling Cooper’s that is, you can’t, it can’t be untasted. It is unique.

Markus Raupach: Okay, I have the same experience with all of the beers I had the luck to go to the roots and have the originals and it’s very different if you sit on a judging table and you have been there, you know the originals, you know the brewers, maybe the history and that gives you a broader understanding of the beer style and of the idea. And so I’ve not been to Australia yet so I have to do this in the future definitely. Looking forward to this. If we look to the other countries, they also in the craft beer area started to develop new, let’s say, styles. So like the New Zealand’s with their hops or other countries with wine hybrids and things like that. Is there also something in Australia going on now on this side?

Nick Galton-Fenzi: Completely. Look, the innovation from New Zealand-based hops as you’re probably well aware, much work or rework Nelson Sauvin, which had been around for a few years now and a very, very distinctive flavours. The offering of the Australian hops and the galaxy whichever one is very, very familiar with it as far as their tastes and flavours, and it still remains a stellar mid to full palate hop. I have seen a lot of innovation as far as West Australian hop growing and we now have our local hop, Preston Valley hops from the southwest in Mar Garu which is one of our major wine-growing region. And I have not used any of their hops but they are now starting to plant out and grow. And the market receiver, I was down at the Fremantle Beer Festival just on Saturday and I got to try Steve Wearing, he is the head brewer at King Road, he was using the Preston Valley hops in his pilsner. I gotta say it’s probably one of the most amazing West Australian pilsners I have tried. And obviously, you’ve obviously got to look at your how you call this and originality and what is a pils and pilsner and where it comes from. But as far as a lager goes, and the taste and flavour, spectacular. It’s a great hop, good brewers, good innovation, good growing, and obviously, attention to detail. And I think, we’re going to see a little bit more innovation. Even myself, I’m working with some Margaret River. Margaret River in Western Australia, or those people who don’t know, this is our premier wine-growing region. So if you are drinking wines from Western Australia, chances are they do come from the Margaret River area. It is our premium grape-growing type zone. And we’re starting to deal with places like Felix Casper Wines where we’re doing the Italian grape, the X Three sort of styles. And that was, thank you very much to people like Rory Lancellas of Aegir Project in Cape Town, in South Africa, who sort of spearheaded some of these styles and techniques. And I have learned from him as far as how and the process involved. And now we have some spectacular X Three Italian grapes that are going to go into production and market offerings in 2024. So, yes, there’s a lot of things that are happening as far as like hop innovation, innovation as far as alternative ingredients, local malts and provenance availability to market.

Markus Raupach: And as you are also distilling, so what about, what spirits are you producing? And is there also some interaction like ageing beer in spirits barrels and things like that?

Nick Galton-Fenzi: Yes, that’s a really, really good question. As far as like the distilling side of things, we are a fledgling market, I would like to see more grassroots sort of wash through to finished spirit production. But we have some amazing industrial distillers that are able to distil 100% whitewash to the point of, it creates an amazing flavour profile as a neutral grain alcohol. And then making gin from those processes and then doing a finishing polishing product in pot stills gives market demand, market and consumers what is probably far up and above what those producers who are making their own washes and distilling four or five times in order to get some very clean, neutral alcohols. So using a combination of industrial distillation, and artisan small distillation, we can make some very, very good quality products. And I was just out with a colleague of mine last night, and we were discussing the merits of start-through-to-finish washes versus using industrial continuous distillation, and then polishing processes. You can’t compete with the quality of products that they make. It’s very clean, it’s very neutral. And I’ve distilled vodka in Poland and UK, and I still haven’t come quite close to the quality of industrial spirit with a copper reduction polishing process. By the time you’ve done it six times distillation. One day, Markus, you have to make it down here so you can come and try these processes and see and taste for yourself. Because I can guarantee we probably won’t see the eyebrows on your forehead once you realize exactly what and how these things are being done, because they are an incredible taste profile.

Markus Raupach: So the things you are distilling, it’s in a larger scale? Or also more like micro-distilleries?

Nick Galton-Fenzi: So the micro-distillery side, plenty of smaller size 250, 350-litre pot still styles, but we are using a combination of both primary production to make wash and industrial fermentation to make neutral ethyl alcohol and then flavouring using junipers, corianders, all the typical styles of gin production for London dry.

Markus Raupach: But you don’t do whiskies and things like that.

Nick Galton-Fenzi: Personally I have been involved in whiskey production in Isla But in Western Australia, we have one distillery, which is running with to my knowledge that are doing full whiskey production. We have more distilleries in Tasmania than what there is in Scotland and they have their own peat bogs. The unusual thing about peat bog in Tasmania is that most of the detritus material is coming into the peat bog from eucalyptus pepperberry-style of organics. So it’s very spicy, very peppery, which gives it such a unique flavour and you can’t replicate that anywhere around. Whereas obviously when you’re in Scotland, you’re dealing with a more neutral organics from their peat and gives very, very different flavour profiles, depending on what the plant growth and organics is around at the time and what you’re burning, what you’re smoking.

Markus Raupach: Wow, that really sounds interesting, especially as I’m a fan of all these smoked things. And so I have also to try the Tasmanian whiskey.

Nick Galton-Fenzi: Yes, absolutely.

Markus Raupach: I read that you also have been working in the West Indies so in the Caribbeans. How was that? Especially with the weather conditions. And did you ever have time to brew because you always have been to the beach? Or how was it there?

Nick Galton-Fenzi: I had a great experience in the Caribbean. I was employed through the Carib Brewery in St. Kitts and Nevis, so it’s a sister island, St. Kitts and Nevis. And those islands are located 15 minutes apart. The Carib Brewery is the licensee for Royal Stout, Guinness, they also produce Carib, Carib Light, three ranges of soft drinks. And it’s mostly lager production at 28 days in cold ferment-type conditions. I was very kindly taken under the wing to do some product development and analysis. Unfortunately, I was right in the period of Covid when I had landed in 2020. The usual number of tourists that you would normally see through the island is around 10,000 a week. So you have an island that has a population of 30,000 people with 10,000 people a week visiting. I had landed right at that point where the tourist trade had really started to slow down. We’re due to launch a new product, the Carib IPA. It’s an American tourist destination and hotspot. And the project went a long way. We did a lot of market testing and confirmation and got, the product actually got released I think 2022. But it was a good six months after I had left the project. So I hadn’t unfortunately followed up but yes. I have the Guinness licensees. The Carib Brewery does all the production for Antigua, Trinidad, Tobago, Florida, and if you’re drinking Guinness, which is the royal, which is the tropical stout, it’s a seven-a-half per cent stout that’s served in 275 mil bottles and it’s sweet, strong, dark, very, very full flavour. But incredibly well attenuated. You’re talking attenuation of like 85%. So although you have it’s got no sharp bite to it or anything else like that. It is just pure malt and it’s malten dry, and it’s surprisingly refreshing for seven and a half per cent. For the last, until 1990, it was one of the largest sellers in the Caribbean region through Jamaica, Antigua, St. Kitts and Nevis, which is just amazing considering the colour. So yes. But no, great experience.

Markus Raupach: It’s very, very interesting. And in an area where it’s so humid, it’s so warm, that people drink seven and a half per cent as their favourite.

Nick Galton-Fenzi: Completely, completely.

Markus Raupach: Yes, and I also read that at the same time or a little later, you also had a little mead adventure. So you also went into this alcoholic drink. How did that come?

Nick Galton-Fenzi: That’s right. So I was contracted through the Wye Valley Brewery and Meadery, the hive mind brew house. We originally started their first brew house, I originally started that and built their first brew house. There was some issues with the lease and lease holdings, the landholder eventually had to pick all the materials up and then rebuild the entire brewery in Caldicott which is just down the road from one of the largest industrial brewing for the whole of the UK in Caldicott. So I was doing the mead production and the first load of their beer production. And we had three first releases, which was the IPA, their summer ale and their big smoke, a smoked porter, which took out a three-star great taste award for the UK. One of only two beers that took out the three-star awards out of about 5000 entrants. So it was a very nice, very nice accolade and being produced at the moment. So if you haven’t got to check them out, Wye Valley Brewery and Meadery in Caldicott in Wales. They have a number of hives that is at the Caldicott Castle, which is right next door to them. And that castle was built in the 1100s. Their hives are based in that Caldicott area and they use the honey from the castle to do all their main production. So Matt Newell, he is a beekeeper, he does all the honey production through to their mead production. And it’s a full start through to finish establishment as far as so I was doing all the water chemistry, their new brewing production and their mead development and analysis.

Markus Raupach: So you were more involved in the beer side there not on the mead side?

Nick Galton-Fenzi: Definitely. Yes definitely more in the beer side of production. And I was doing the water chemistry innovation for their mead side of things. So obviously, when you have a 15% traditional mead, you still have 85% water to do your dilution. It’s very important to make sure that that water meets the taste and flavour requirements that complement the finished mead. So we’re using things like heather meads, very, very delicate. And we’re using the summer meads, which are a little bit more robust. So by looking at those water chemistry and balancing that up with a few chloride, your sulfates, your calcium and your yeast health sort of parameters it was making sure that everything had balance into it.

Markus Raupach: So also a fascinating world. And maybe what brought you back finally to Australia? What are your plans for the future at the moment?

Nick Galton-Fenzi: Yes, so my folks live in Western Australia. I had moved back from UK mid-last year to spend some more time with them. And that’s pretty much what the draw card was to make sure that my parents got looked after and they’ve obviously given me everything they have entirely, and I need to make sure that they get looked after. And I’ve been very fortunate to be taken on by groups in Western Australia. The Wildwood Brewing down in the southwest, Flying Fine by Sinjin Hammond, who are a brewery and distillery and stoler. And I continue my knowledge and I continue to learn and understand as far as every single day that you’re brewing, you are learning this. There’s no two days. And I’m now just coming to understand the difference between summer and winter conditions. So in Perth in Western Australia, we have a very large desalination plant that operates off our coast and that produces most of our, not most of our, but some of our drinking water. We chandi that back into our natural water mounds. We’re a fairly dry place. But the difference between the summer rainfall and winter rainfall means the difference between 400 parts per million TDS down 280 parts per million TDS. So it’s looking at those differences in summer and winter rainfall and how that impacts on our local water supply and what that means for our brewing water supply. Because in summer, I need to up the calcium chloride, calcium sulfate to make sure I get the correct mash pHs and in winter, I need to dial that down by about 30% to make sure that I meet the requirements of that. And then in one of the breweries that I’m working at, we have tank and rainwater. It’s a very finite supply, 200,000 kilolitre supply. Sounds like a lot. But when you’re doing brewing at a five to one ratio, that means for every one litre of finished beer using five litres of water. So looking at rain, like how to make sure you save water and how the seasonal differences between summer and winter on your water vary and what that means for your consumers. And it’s quite substantial as far as production.

Markus Raupach: Wow, so that sounds again, like a lot of work a lot of science to be done, a lot of things behind the curtain. So just last question, if people come to Australia, if they want to try some of your beers, what do they have to do? Where do they have to go to meet maybe you and your beers, of course, and your spirits?

Nick Galton-Fenzi: Send me an email, that’s all I can say. Send me an email, I would love to hear from anyone who is visiting. I am a keen advocate for Western Australian beers, spirits hospitality, and please just get in touch. And I will point you in the right directions about where you need to go, who you need to have a chat with, and Markus you are top on the list. And you probably need to get here and bring Bastian from Altenburger Brewery with you. And I’d love to host both of you and show you around. And because we have some incredible offerings. It’s a lovely place. It’s quiet, it’s easy to get around, it’s a very, very safe place. And we have some great beers and great spirits on offering. And it’s a long way to travel. So it needs to be a little bit organized, but please just get in touch and I would love to host anyone who would love to visit the area.

Markus Raupach: Fantastic. So you will put your contact data of course in the show notes and so thanks a lot for this wonderful conversation for this insight into the other side of the world and that you’re so open and produce so many good beers and spirits. And also thanks for your friendship and I’m also very much looking forward to visit you and Australia, and of course I will bring Bastian also with me. He was also already on the podcast so we are good friends and he makes fantastic beers, and I’m thinking he will be also looking forward to visit you. So thanks a lot and see you soon.

Nick Galton-Fenzi: Thank you Markus. All the best and thank you very much for your time.


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