5 Minutes with the Brewer: Feral Brewing Co's Will Irving

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We caught up with Will Irving, head brewer over at Feral to ask him a few questions about one of our favourite beers – Hop Hog Pale Ale and how the recent Coca Cola Amatil buyout would affect the brewery, for the better or for worse…

Feral’s Hop Hog is one of the brewery’s core range beers - an American style pale ale that’s big and bold when it comes to flavour. “We brew big beers that we love to drink. It’s not that we don’t love a good English IPA, we just prefer the flavour profile of the piney, citrus and tropical fruit driven hops of the US,” Will told LBHQ.

The inspiration for Hop Hog was back in 2008 out at the Swan Valley brewpub. Will said the Feral crew landed on the recipe for Hop Hog without too much fussing about, and were “pretty stoked” with the results from the first batch! “Brendan came back with a technique that was new to us called ‘dry hopping’ where hops are added to the tank post fermentation.  We added this process to our pale ale that we had at the time with a few tweaks to the process, and the Hop Hog recipe was born.”

Just how much Hop Hog does Feral actually produce every year?

“Let’s just say A LOT. We produce more Hop Hog than every other beer we make put together,” said Will. This amount of brewed beer is in stark contrast to Feral’s Brewpub releases where only 10,000L are produced for each beer. “These releases are awesome and always generate a lot of hype, but Hop Hog is really the pillar on which Feral was built.”

He explained 50% of All Hop Hog is exported to the east and even the odd pallet gets shipped to places such as Singapore. "It’s actually Hop Hog’s 10th Birthday this year so we are planning on having a Big Birthday Bash…Keep your eyes peeled for this one.”

What about the recent buy-out by Coca Cola Amatil...

Will’s take on the recent brewery buy out by Coca-Cola Amatil was a refreshing perspective to the complaints witnessed on Perth Beer Snobs and other local craft channels last year. He said he thought it was a 'major positive for Feral' despite most people assuming the worst when the news came out. “We’ve increased our sales team, we now have a marketing budget which was something we needed to work on previously, so hopefully you will see our beers around Australia more often. Increased sales equals increased production which will allow us to hire more brewers and purchase a few new toys to further increase our quality and experimentation.”

And as for the brewery’s reputation surviving into the future? Will is happy to let his beers continue doing the talking. “We are still the same crew, making the beer that we want to drink. It’s just now Brendan doesn’t have 30 people’s salaries weighing on his conscience every night. We still operate as a small business, just without all the additional stress.”

Where did you come from?

Will’s been with Feral for 11 years now and he’s always wanted to be a brewer, even back at school. “I actually started out at Feral as a sales rep. It turns out I’m not the greatest salesman and was fired after 3 months. Luckily the assistant brewer left the role at the same time and I was given the job that week,” he said.

The now, Head Brewer of Feral explained to us he’d been around beer his entire life.
“I was stacking shelves at a local liquor store from the age of 14. My dad owned a pub up in the hills which we cleaned for pocket money and I moved around a few other liquor stores as the ‘Beer Guy’ until I came to Feral.”

So what do we have to look forward to on the cards at Feral?

A whispering of a winter Brewpub release planned for July but that will stay under wraps. But, he could let us know about the many small batch barrel projects in the works currently at the brewery.

“In the Swan Valley barrel room we have a Port barrel aged flanders red, ex-chardonnay barrel  kriek, a cognac barrel aged oud bruin and a bourbon barrel aged red ale. All will be out by late 2018/early 2019. As for the brew house there will always be something new ticking along, the newest being a Yuzu Pilsner due in a few weeks.”

Coming up...?

“Up next is a collaboration brew with local community radio station RTRFM set to release at the In The Pines music festival which is really cool!”

For more info on the future RTR FM In The Pines collab, Hop Hog Pale Ale, Will or Feral Brewing Co, head to the brewery’s website.

We stock a wide range of Feral’s beers in all our stores, come in and get yours today.