Reviving regional economies with home-brew

Patrick BlampiedNews


We heard an excellent story last week about a gentleman that hails from Barellan NSW. He revived his quiet little town by crowd-funding a project for locally grown and brewed beer.

It was at the Future of Local Food conference in Melbourne last week. We were there to learn about the role of compost in feeding the nation into the future, but this story stood out as something that was very relevant to our customers and region as we move through our own economic transition. We thought it might be one worth sharing here.

Single-origin beer made from Barellan grain

Stuart Whytcross, Barellan Beer

In the world of wine and coffee you can get ‘blends’ which contains ingredients sourced from many places, and artisan produce that is sourced from a single geographic region.

In the world of beer you could really only get blends until Stuart Whytcross hit the scene.

Teaching art by day and brewing beer at night, Stuart has taken his knowledge of the world’s finest ales and turned a wild idea into reality by producing one of the few beers in the world where the consumer can actually pinpoint where the ingredients have come from.

“Beer doesn’t tend to have the origin base story like wine does, but with Barellan being a strong malt producing region it’s the perfect fit for the town to have its own beer.”

It’s a truly unique project, utilising local ingredients with all profits going back into the town. The project raised $37,480 not including support from local businesses who donated goods and services such as transport, packaging and brewing in a 60 day crowd-funding campaign. Supporters pledged funds in return for a range of unique rewards, such as being on hand to brew the first batch, limited edition long necks, cases of beer and tickets to events such as recipe selection events and the official launch party. It sold out on the first weekend.

Since launching at Barellan’s annual Working Clydesdales Festival in October 2014, the inaugural Barellan Beer, ‘Golden Grain Ale’ has been enjoyed on tap at the Commercial Hotel and Barellan & District War Memorial Club but now it’s also being shipped across the country in packaged form.

The biggest surprise was the effect on the local economy. As the small community worked together to make something unique, they experienced a huge influx of people travelling from all over the country to try the beer. It literally put them back on the map. The media attention only fuelled it further.

We know that unique local products help regional economies thrive and we have some great ones like SageChoice, Camilo Olives and Leura Park Estate. Barellan Beer is another great example with a bit of a twist. You can find out more about their beer via the links below.
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