It may surprise some to learn that beer consumption in Australia is at its lowest in more than half a century, giving up some of its consumers to wine, cider and other alcoholic drinks.
But there is another reason — taste. More drinkers are drinking less beer by volume but enjoying higher quality, and better tasting, beers than ever. Craft breweries are responsible for this trend as more drinkers realise that quality hand crafted beers offer a more enjoyable, more engaging experience.
Even more fun is brewing your own beer, and that’s not as difficult or demanding as it sounds. That’s especially so if you take advantage of a local microbrewery’s on-site facilities, ingredients and expertise, just a stone’s throw from the Hills.
The Beer Factory was established nine years ago in Seven Hills, but the brew-on-premise (BOP) concept originated in Canada in the 1980s. It arrived in Perth in the 1990s, and there are now about 20 around the country.
Public brewers use the factory's premises, equipment and ingredients to brew their own beer. Government excises are paid by the factory, so all the beer fancier needs to worry about is making a good brew.
All beers brewed in the Beer Factory’s facilities are free of preservatives and chemicals (as all good beers are), and use high quality ingredients from Australia and internationally to brew a choice of over 200 beers ranging from light beers to European lager and pilsner styles, English ales and stouts, wheat beers and many more. Every beer lover will find a style to suit their tastes.

## Whipping up a brew Novices are guided in choosing a beer style, then assisted with the actual brewing techniques before leaving their beer in a kettle at the Factory for two to four weeks to ferment. In that time, the Factory will triple filter, carbonate and prepare the beer for the brewer to bottle it, which takes a little over an hour. As Beer Factory general manager Bill Dalgliesh told Sydney Hills Living, “It doesn’t take a lot of effort. The brewer doesn’t have to know anything about brewing, they don’t have to clean anything, and they don’t have to look after anything. We take care of all those aspects for them. We have temperature controlled fermentation rooms, and filters and carbonators. Gone are the days when you had to do home brews in the garage, and watch half your brew’s bottles exploding,” he said. “We get all kinds of people here, from doctors to airline pilots, tradies, and even some women coming. They want to brew anything from a crafty, full tasting beer to a very economical drop. It’s much cheaper than buying commercially brewed beers, from about 30% less expensive than a case of popular light beer to about $100 less expensive for an imported full English ale.” “In the early days Australia had about 300 breweries,” said Bill, “but over time they were bought out, and now there are two big players, owned by multinational companies Kirin and South African Breweries. They have over 96% of the Australian beer market. Of the remaining 4%, Coopers, which is still called a craft brewery, has the largest share. So Australian craft breweries have a lot of growing to do!” There are two Beer Factory franchises, with about 10 factories associated with each, most of which are owner operated. The Beer Factory in Seven Hils also brews commercially for about 40 customers around Sydney, including restaurants and boutique bars, many of whom have their own labels. Bill Dalgliesh brought his long experience running factories in other industries to the Beer Factory about two years ago, along with his own extensive home brewing experience, but freely admits his brewing business expertise comes from “the other side of the bar”.
## Favourites on tap The Beer Factory offers a selection of over 200 beer recipes, so every beer lover’s favourite is catered for. If they can’t find a beer to love in the list they’re just not trying hard enough. “The Beer Factory’s most popular beer by volume is our Toohey’s Extra Dry clone, with premium beers like a Little Creatures clone popular with commercial customers and many private brewers,” said Bill. “We also have a James Squire Golden Ale clone, which is very popular. “Our regular brewers are very willing to try different flavours, and I promote that by having a beer of the month to suit the season of the year. So they can vary from pale lagers right through to English ales and stouts for the winter months. About 5% of our regular brewers are women. We get a lot of interest from women, who often buy a gift voucher for their beer loving bloke. “All our regular customers say that they can’t go back to a commercially brewed beer after brewing their own here. One said to me the other day that he’d rather not drink than have to drink those commercial beers,” said Bill. To ensure that all was above board, your correspondent felt compelled to take on a full taste test, and was duly convinced. With summer now here, a cold beer next to a barbecue is a tantalising image for many people. That becomes even more enticing if the beer is personally brewed to taste. And it makes for a perfect conversation starter as those snags turn a golden brown. ☐