Brewing a storm at Laggan

Brewing a storm at Laggan

Smart Farmer News
BUSY: Evan and Sally Marler are using their combined hospitality experience to make the most of their restaurant and brewery.

BUSY: Evan and Sally Marler are using their combined hospitality experience to make the most of their restaurant and brewery.

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After years of working in hospitality, both internationally and in Australia, Evan and Sally Marler decided they wanted to run their own business.

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After years of working in hospitality, both internationally and in Australia, Evan and Sally Marler decided they wanted to run their own business.

The old police barracks at Laggan, NSW, had been converted into a restaurant and was available for purchase.

The Marlers jumped at the opportunity, seeing a lot of potential in the building complex which was built in 1837.

Four years ago Laggan Pantry restaurant and Laggan Cottage accommodation began with Laggan Brewery following two years later.

It is the brewery where Evan's passion lies.

"Initially, the brewery was only going to supply the restaurant," he said.

"It was just going to be three or four beers for the restaurant, along with the international brands.

"I realised quite quickly that I couldn't keep up with demand, let alone the pub across the road wanted to put it on tap as well.

"I needed to upgrade all my equipment to cater for this.

"So we took the plunge, stopped pulling wages, and invested everything we could into our little nano brewery.

"For me, it was the most full-on thing I have ever done."

The new nano brewery, as it is today, was fully commissioned about a year ago, seeing an increase in production from just over 90 litres a batch to 750 litres.

Evan has brewed more than 10000 litres in the year the new equipment has been in commission.

"For a long time I was working with a 30 litre system which I would use three times a day to fill a pub keg and a bit more," Evan said.

"It was hard work and very time consuming.

"We brew differently here compared to most places and with the new equipment, which was supposed to supply 250 litres, we are getting around 750 litres.

ENTICING: The tap room at Laggan Brewery is open on weekends and draws many visitors.

ENTICING: The tap room at Laggan Brewery is open on weekends and draws many visitors.

"One of the most crucial things with brewing beer is temperature control during fermentation.

"You can get some disgusting flavours because the brew got too hot.

"The esters create all sorts of strange flavours.

"With the system we have, I ferment under nearly two bar of pressure which means I can sneak the temperature up because the pressure stops the off flavours from forming.

"I also get a more aggressive fermentation which happens quicker.

"When it happens under pressure and quicker, we get a carbonated beer as well.

RANGE: Laggan Brewery produces a good range of beers and ciders.

RANGE: Laggan Brewery produces a good range of beers and ciders.

"At the end of fermentation I have a beer which is carbonated still in the fermenter.

"Then the temperature control in the system takes the beer down to zero, sometimes minus one, which clears the beer out in what is called cold crashing.

"All the by-products from fermentation go to the bottom, and I am left with a cold, carbonated, cold-filtered, clear, ready-to-drink beer.

"You can pour a tap straight from the fermenter if you want.

"This avoids need for carbon-dioxide tanks and the need to move the beer into bright tanks, creating three times the amount of beer.

"While it is more efficient, this system also makes less of a carbon footprint which is great."

Sourcing malts from Voyager Craft Malts in the Riverina, using local Laggan water, and hops grown in the area, Evan is proud of the provenance of his beers.

"The malts we get from Voyager tell you where the barley was grown - by NSW farmers - which is great," he said.

"Stuart Whitcross at Voyager does a fantastic job of making sure the quality of the malt is up to scratch.

"I get farmers coming in to the tap room for a beer and they quickly make the connection that they are drinking grain.

FRESH: Laggan Brewery's Evan Marler with a sample of Cascade hops from Lost River. Photo: Clare McCabe.

FRESH: Laggan Brewery's Evan Marler with a sample of Cascade hops from Lost River. Photo: Clare McCabe.

"It is almost like a paddock-to-plate for beer.

"We use local water which is nice and fresh.

"Dan and Courtney Haywood at Lost River Hops, which is less than 15 kilometres away as the crow flies, supply me with all dry, cone hops, not pelletised hops.

"You can taste and smell the difference the fresh hops provide - there is no doubt about it.

"I also grow my own yeast in a little fermenter which remains in a dormant state until I wake it up which is another cost saver."

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