Up-and-coming Aussie craft brewery wants to be the new Foster’s

In 2011, Matty Wilson developed a passion for craft beer. Now his business Wilson’s Brewing Company is undergoing a major expansion, moving beyond his hometown of Albany to cover the whole state of Western Australia. “My plan from the start was that I wanted Wilson’s to be the new Foster’s,” he says.

Master brewer Matty Wilson raises a glass to his brewery

Wilson’s Brewery in Albany is a hive of activity. Master brewer Matty Wilson and his team have been working 18 to 20 hours days to install a new, improved brewing system delivered last week, all while continuing to make beer and run their small 50 capacity bar. The gleaming new fermenters are an obvious upgrade.

“It’s gone from a handmade, pretty ramshackle brewery which makes a good beer to something a lot more professional,” Wilson says. He aims to have the new system fully up and running within four weeks.

Wilson’s beer is currently all sold locally within about a 200km radius of the brewery. Now he looks to increase the brewery’s output from 3,500 litres of beer a week to 9,000; supply bottled beer to 300 more stores; and have their product on tap in the majority of pubs in Western Australia.

The brewery plans to export to China, America, New Zealand and the UK within ten years. Wilson wants to be the next Foster’s, and also cites Coopers Brewery as an inspiration.

Wilson was trained as a boilermaker and had a job monitoring the safety of release valves at a large onshore gas plant. He’d always drank within the confines of mainstream beer, until trying his cousin Leon’s all-grain homebrew expanded his horizons.

“I was drinking these beers and thought, ‘these are better than anything I’d been buying in shops’,” Wilson recalls. If Leon could do it, why not him?

Bottled beer from Wilson’s Brewery

For the next three years Wilson worked intensely on perfecting what would become his brewery’s core beers, brewing a 50 litre batch almost every day. He then purchased an old nursery in his hometown and converted it into a local craft brewery which opened in 2016.

The business soon snowballed. The current upgrade is the end goal of the first five years of Wilson’s business plan – he accomplished it all in just 18 months.

A large part of the brewery’s success can be put down to its diversity of beers and appetite for experimentation. The five core beers include a light session ale, a bitter and a dark ale. In addition Wilson brews a seasonal beer every fortnight, often a weird and wonderful concoction made with locally-sourced ingredients.

Previous seasonal beers include a Belgian red ale made with quandong (bushtucker fruit picked by a local aboriginal elder) and a beer made using oysters.

A chocolate, cherry and coconut porter recently emerged from the fermenter. Marketing manager Rob Quayle says it tastes “a bit like a sherry-flavoured Bounty”. A dark beer in the middle of Australia’s summer is enough to raise some eyebrows.

“We really like to play around with flavours, so we like to come up with a summer dark ale or a winter larger,” Wilson says.

Did the way the brewery has taken off surprise Wilson? “No, to be honest,” he says. “I wouldn’t have started it if I didn’t think it would work.”

Wilson runs the business with his wife, who is herself a veteran entrepreneur, and Wilson’s own career equipped him to both build and manage the brewery.

“Originally I was looking into starting a fabrication company or something along those lines,” he says, but chose brewing instead. For drinkers outside of Australia, it may only be a matter of time until Wilson’s beer comes to a pub near you.

To find out more about Wilson’s Brewery, visit their website here.

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