Craft brewer bucks trend

One of WA's most popular brewing labels is close to pouring its way into the mid-strength market usually frowned upon by craft beer nerds.

Broome-based Matso's has, for more than a year, been testing a 3.5 per cent alcohol beer over a dozen brews and hopes to settle on a product to be ready by December.

Matso's part-owner Justin Wiebrecht said he understood the traditionally negative sentiment within the craft brewing fraternity towards mid-strength beer, but the company saw it as a void in its stable, which had grown from selling 14,000 cartons in 2007 to an expected 300,000 this financial year.

The mid has been developed during testing by Matso's head brewer Marcus Muller.

Mr Wiebrecht, a former head brewer at the company, said he still wanted to tweak the low-bitterness brew a little more to add more banana and pineapple flavours.

"It's going to have the flavour to challenge the people who have a mid out there at the moment," he said. "When we do a sponsorship function, I don't have a normal, premium-quality mid I can offer. The way the family has been going about the products, we've always wanted a mid and it will be worth the wait."

Matso's tests its new beers on site in Broome and bottles it in Fremantle.

It began operating as Broome Brewery in 1997 and produces almost 100,000 litres a year at its Kimberley site.

The company is considering new brews "Angry Ranga" and "Chango" - which will mix its chilli beer respectively with the ginger and mango varieties - as well as looking at building its own bottling operation, possibly in Perth.

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