In true David vs Goliath style, the small but mighty Innate Brewers are stamping their mark on the craft beer industry.
A passion project of a small team of five (with the four directors still holding down their full-time jobs), Innate is punching well above its weight despite limited resources - turning the heads of industry experts.
Not only did its Bullet Proof Black IPA collect Gold at the 2019 Perth Royal Beer Awards, but the brewery itself was named the overall Champion Small Brewery of the Year - certainly no small feat.
Innate also picked up two Silver medals for its Snow Leopard Premium Stout and Brutal Truth West Coast IPA, as well as Bronze for both the Perth Pivo Pilsner and Troposphere Pale Ale.
Tucked away in a tiny industrial unit in Spearwood, the micro-brewery has one overarching focus: to never compromise on quality.
Head Brewer and Freo local Joel Nash first discovered his passion for brewing at the Sail and Anchor, further developing his craft through stints at Colonial, Gage Roads and the Indian Ocean Brewing Co.
Four years ago, Joel went all in with the Innate team, where he had only an “oversized homebrew kit” to work with.
Since then, Innate has expanded to produce up to 50,000 litres of premium beer a year - which is still well within the minor league in industry terms.
“It was all very hands on and low volume, but with me being here full time I had to drive something and make something happen,” he said.
“We bought some more equipment to be able to make more consistent beer and a larger volume of beer and it has just been growing like that ever since.
“We are so small that people who aren’t beer nerds probably don’t know about us just yet, or maybe they are just starting to know about us.”
Joel said the brewery’s signature is creating true to style beers of impeccable quality.
“I don’t mean we are making old school German beers, or anything like that, but we are making IPAs, Double IPAs, Pale Ales that are all quite bang on the style,” he said.
“We are not necessarily doing heaps of really experimental stuff, we are just trying to make really great quality, single batch, limited release beers and that is what we have been successful with.”
Living up to its moniker, Double IPA Watch This Space has become a cult favourite, collecting Gold at both the Australian International Beer Awards and the Perth Royal Beer Awards in 2017.
“It has had quite a bit of success for us, it was a bit of a lucky name,” Joel mused.
Another firm favourite is their summer Raspberry and Cranberry Sour, Cosmos.
“Everyone loves it, it is one of those beers; bright pink, it has 150kg of raspberries in it and about 20kg of cranberries,” he said.
The Autumn season heralds in a Red IPA and Winter the Black IPA, while the Mango Milkshake Ale makes an appearance in Spring.
Innate also produces a Pale Ale and a Pilsner year round, alongside a number of other showstoppers in their “Unicorn Series”.
Despite their limitations, the brew house’s miniscule size is not without its perks.
“Each batch is very different,” Joel explained, “part of what we want to be doing here is making beers for the season and make beers that people want, when they want them,” he said.
“When we decide to make a beer, I can make it two days later.
“Whereas if a big brewery decides to make a beer, they have to go through the approvals everywhere and two months later they can brew the beer.”
Although Joel does not define success through awards (“I am already pretty hard on myself with beers as it is, so I do know whether they are good or not”), he was pleased the brewery was recognised for its ability to produce big things minus the big budget.
“We are trying to make really small scale, really good beer and not compromise on quality of ingredients,” he said.
“A lot of breweries are pushing harder and harder to do more and more volume, and when you do that, you inevitably compromise somewhere.
“We aren’t doing that. We are just focussed here on making really good beer.”
Having now established their brand, all but out-grown the facility and proved their mettle, the Innate team is getting ready to gear up.
“At the moment we are just at the cusp of needing to do something more,” Joel said.
“We have been consistently making pretty good beer for a while now and in order to get more recognition, you need to make more beer. That’s where we are at.”
In an effort to get more beers in hands, the brewery took a huge leap forward six months ago, canning their beers for distribution for the first time.
But with only around 100 cartons produced per tank, you have to be quick to get your lips locked on these award-winners.
You can find Innate’s brews stocked in independent bottle shops, as well as various small bars around Fremantle and the Perth CBD.
Catch the crew at the Perth Craft Beer Fest this weekend or at The Queens Hotel Brewer’s Loft on September 5.