Home / World News / TRUE BREW: Artisan Brewing, the Americans making award-winning Belgian-style beer in WA’s South West

TRUE BREW: Artisan Brewing, the Americans making award-winning Belgian-style beer in WA’s South West

An American making Belgian-style beers in Denmark, Western Australia sounds like the beginning of a joke.

However, it’s a shaggy dog story that’s been brewing for three decades and involves a couple of jet-setting Texan city slickers swapping corporate life for a former piggery in the South West.

Meet Brian and Julia Fitzgerald, the affable couple behind Artisan Brewery, WA’s “biggest small brewery you’ve probably never heard of”.

Brian and Julia Fitzgerald of Denmark’s Artisan Brewing.
Camera IconBrian and Julia Fitzgerald of Denmark’s Artisan Brewing. Credit: Simon Santi/The West Australian

That’s unless you’re a brewer besotted with Brian’s Flemish reds, saisons and quads, or a punter lucky enough to attend one of their regular “beergustations”.

Or one of the judges that named Artisan champion small brewer at this year’s Perth Royal Beer Awards.

The Fitzgeralds were both based in Singapore in the early 90s when they fell in love with WA’s South West and decided to open a winery.

Artisan Brewing was named champion small brewer at this year’s Perth Royal Beer Awards.
Camera IconArtisan Brewing was named champion small brewer at this year’s Perth Royal Beer Awards. Credit: Supplied

However, local winemakers suggested Brian, a keen home-brewer, think about a brewery — a thought that calcified when they discovered that Little Creatures’ debut pale ale tasted like their beloved Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

“That was the light-bulb moment to say maybe craft beer is the next big thing in Australia,” Julia explained.

Brian had another epiphany during a research trip to Europe — he wanted to make Belgian-inspired beers.

So, after he studied brewing science at the American Brewers’ Guild in California and worked at Saint Arnold Brewing Company in Houston, the Fitzgeralds finally migrated.

However, red tape prevented them from opening a brewery on their farm near Denmark.

So, Brian’s first commercial beer, an 8.2 per cent farmhouse red, was made at Ocean Road Brewing and released in 2014.

Since then Artisan has gypsy-brewed at Boston Brewing Co. and Black Brewing Co., and now splits its time between Rocky Ridge in Jindong and Tall Timbers in Manjimup, with Brian — Australia’s first certified cicerone — moonlighting as a consultant.

Denmark will always be home for us.

While they averaged 25,000 litres per year at Boston, Artisan produced 75,000 litres last year and plans to double or triple that amount in the near future.

The pandemic pushed their ever-evolving core range into cans, while the hiring of an assistant brewer — Magdalena Bustos, a Chilean immigrant who previously worked as wedding co-ordinator at Black Brewing — has lightened Brian’s load.

Artisan Brewing's Magdalena Bustos, Julia Fitzgerald, Josh Edmeades and Brian Fitzgerald at the 2022 Perth Royal Beer Awards.
Camera IconArtisan Brewing’s Magdalena Bustos, Julia Fitzgerald, Josh Edmeades and Brian Fitzgerald at the 2022 Perth Royal Beer Awards. Credit: Matt Jelonek

Artisan also recently launched the 100 members-only club The Quadrivium Aristocracy offering exclusive Belgian beers and VIP events as well as ramped up its barrel-ageing program. Brian also hopes to make whiskey.

Artisan Brewing’s The Moz Belgian IPA.
Camera IconArtisan Brewing’s The Moz Belgian IPA. Credit: Simon Collins

Recent wins at the Perth Royal Beer Show, where Artisan claimed nine gold medals for beers made at four different breweries, have encouraged the Fitzgeralds to work towards finally opening their own brewery — ideally in Denmark.

“Denmark will always be home for us,” Julia says. “We migrated in 2003 and we never looked back. We’re city people and we bought a farm. We knew nobody in Denmark but we took a chance.”

“There’s some regional pride,” Brian adds. “A lot of the locals are very supportive, and they’d like to see us have a home in Denmark.”

ARTISAN BREWING THE MOZ

Brian Fitzgerald doesn’t make many India pale ales, but he should judging by The Moz — a West Coast-leaning Belgian IPA named after the dominant Mosaic hop used alongside Citra and Amarillo in this 6.3 per cent beer.

Bold tropical and citrus flavours with a hint of spice and sturdy bitterness, plus use of Artisan’s house yeast, make The Moz a motza. 95/100

About brandsauthority

Check Also

Pro surfer Tyler Wright marries partner in intimate lounge room wedding

Pro surfer Tyler Wright has shared the first snaps from her low-key wedding to partner …

%d bloggers like this: