The West

The Lip - Up, close and personal at NBC
The Lip - Up, close and personal at NBC

Long-time beer drinker and The Sip editor Ross Lewis casts his eye over the kegs from here and abroad.

There are plenty of breweries that give drinkers a chance to catch a glimpse of their beer-making operation.

Yet, from the first step inside the Northbridge Brewing Company, Perth’s latest food-beverage celebration, patrons almost feel a part of the process.

The space in Perth’s entertainment capital was tight, forcing NBC owners to go up and deep in construction. While that has developed a superb look-out over Northbridge piazza it has ensured head brewer Ken Arrowsmith remains super fit.

Arrowsmith has had to arrange his brewery vertically so he spends much of the day running up and down stairs. These aren’t service-only steps. To get from the mashtun to the fermenter means he has to manoeuvre through the brewpub crowd.

It is impossible to enter NBC without passing Arrowsmith at work so it is understandable that patrons want to try one of the results of his labour.

Arrowsmith, synonymous in WA brewing for his work with Emu Export and Emu Bitter while at Swan in the 1980s and 90s, has been lured out of retirement by NBC part-owner and Michael Keiller. The pair had gone to Swanbourne High School together.

He is the main man in the beer kitchen producing three drops, a Wheat, Pale Ale and a Lager with a mid-strength on the way. His brewery can deliver about 55 kegs a week to service the brewpub.

NBC don’t have a licence to package their beverages but there has already been very strong support for Arrowsmith’s efforts since the establishment opened earlier this month.

And Arrowsmith hopes to be able to better satisfy the demand by hooking up the tanks directly to taps in the bar to ensure the freshest supply.

“We also plan to do six or so special beers every year,” Arrowsmith said. “This will be for special occasions like Oktoberfest, Easter or Christmas.

“We want to make the brewery accessible to the general public. We didn’t have much space and I even had to move a wall to get some tanks in.

“But it has been great to get back to this scale of brewing, even though I have still been doing a lot at home.”

Indeed, Arrowsmith brewed 25 to 30 test batches of his varieties before deciding on recipes with which he was content.

The NBC Beerland Lager takes the drinker back 25 or 30 years when full flavoured lagers just didn’t dominate the market, they were the market. A time when Arrowsmith was doing some of his best work with Swan.

The Beerland Lager is crisp with a fluffy head that, unlike a lot of the type of recent day, hangs around for a while to keep the drink fresh.

There is a good flavour from the imported German malt and an early sweetness before a subtle bitterness on the swallow.

It is described as a Classic Lager and it certainly reminds of the period when the style was just about all punters could drink.

However, Arrowsmith has delivered a brew that will appease the local market. The exciting thing is that NBC is about to start some experimentation. And that is when the fun will lift another level.

The West Australian

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