Our Native Series has returned for its 7th edition with our latest release, Woolya Wah Red Ale. Teaming up once again with native forager and fine-diner (and our good buddy) Paul ‘Yoda’ Iskov of Fervor, this year's brew was born after a journey to Roelands Village, a small settlement in the Bunbury region of WA.
Once home to over 500 stolen generation children, Roelands Village is a nationally significant heritage site and thriving bush tucker farm with WA native wattleseed and Wattah wattleseed growing amongst its many other native Australian bush species.
If you're not already acquainted with our very own Josh Thomas and Miles Levinson, they're brewers at Beerfarm, great storytellers and love a good yarn. Read on as they tell all about their recent expedition to Roelands, the fascinating history behind the Collie River town and the educational and emotional experience that will stay with them for the rest of their days.
Tell us about your visit to Roelands village. Where is the village located, and why is it so special?
Miles: Roelands Village is located at the base of the Darling Scarp leading to Collie in the South West of WA. Nestled in the hills, it is surrounded by a humbling beauty and spiritual tranquillity. As you drive up the road, taking in all that the environment has to offer, you are faced by the sobering reality. Our past, buried by many but remembered by the few still with us today to tell the stories of history shared by man, black and white.
Roelands Village was established as a mission and was home to a number of the stolen generation. Some of these children had come from as far as the Kimberly, often led from their families with the promise of ice cream. Today Roelands Village is a place of learning and healing.
All people from all walks of life are invited to sit around the campfire and share their stories and ask questions openly to better understand each other and what it is to be connected to Mother, the land we all walk on today.
Why did you choose to source the Native Wattleseed from Roelands Village?
Josh: The Native Series journey has always focussed on using the native foods that are available to us across the whole nation and as we continue to explore country, using an ingredient that was sourced from and is endemic to WA was a big driving force for us to use wattle seed in Native #7. The cultural history and stories behind the use of Wattleseed is an opportunity for us to continue the educational journey about country, native ingredients and how they should be respected and interpreted today.
This year's Native Series has been both an experience and an educational journey. How has the collaboration between Fervor and Roelands Village impacted your understanding of our region, as well as our Australian history?
Josh: Everyone's story is different, but we all share the same history. Having an understanding of our collective history, both the highs and lows needs to be recognised; the importance of passing on the cultural traditions and stories of the land to future generations is imperative to Australia and how we move forward as a society that is so fortunate to call this country home.
Miles: It has always been a dream of mine to walk outside my front door, pick from these great foods from the bush and put them in a beer. For so long it was about working with these incredible ingredients and supporting a sustainable food industry. Fervor has been that link between bush and palate, that was until my visit to Roelands Village with Yoda. Now I feel privileged to work so closely with the people who harboured this ancient land for so many years.
Their knowledge of the land and people extends further than I could have ever imagined. We share a dark history, but it is ours and we need to own it. History is history, there to be remembered and learnt from. The future is what we need need to focus on and carve a path to it through the learning of culture.
What are some of the traditional uses for native Wattleseed and are any of these still used in contemporary society today?
Miles: Wattleseed could be used as food, soap and sunscreen (if i remember right) and many more applications. Growing up in the South West I have been lucky enough to have had a reasonable amount of exposure to the native foods we have available.
More recently, thanks to Fervor and all the amazing work they are doing, carry out food products are starting to appear more and more. My biggest concern is that the Indigenous Australians for thousands of years have never taken more than what they needed. I hope that as the native food industry develops the western way of food farming does not result in a loss of this important cultural morality.
What has working so closely with Fervor year upon year for the Native series taught you about Native Australian ingredients?
Miles: The bush is full of surprises! A great example of this is the strawberry gum. I never would have thought that an Australian native Eucalypti could have harboured that kind of flavour. I can't wait for the next surprise. Native ingredients are also spread far and thin. T
he indigenous, as caretakers of the land, only take what they need as there is a great deal of work that goes into harvesting native ingredients, so it is important not to harvest too much and understand the cultural connection to the land that also informs the harvest. The ratio of work in to food out is so different to modern western farming methods.
Describe the flavours of wattleseed when added to beer and how/ why these flavours work best in a red ale.
Josh: Wattleseed when lightly toasted gives a nice savoury, nutty character. Initially we chatted with Yoda about brewing a Red Ale and using a native ingredient that would compliment the light toffee and caramel characters of the red ale style. With most modern day red ales being quite focussed on using the hops to balance out the malt backbone, we were keen to give the Wattleseed the job of being the flavour and aroma of the beer.
The light and savoury nutty characters marry well with the soft caramel and toffee malt body, only relying on a small amount of Ahtanum hops to round out the beer with some aniseed qualities.
What journey, educational or not, does Native #7 have in store for the average craft beer drinker?
Josh: It's exactly that, an experience and an educational journey that is explored through beer. I couldn't recommend enough that once you have the beer poured into a glass, you take the time to read the label inside and out whilst consuming it. It's not to make the beer any better than it is, it's how the story can be told from as many perspectives as possible, and hopefully received as more than just liquid in a glass.
Miles: I hope that Native #7 can be a link in the chain to a better understanding of cultures. While the history of Roelands is a dark one and it is important to tell that story, as it is the link that is now being crafted and will allow for change. The power of association is a strong one. It is what allows our brains to link memories and emotions.
A whiff of something on the air can transport us back to a place of our childhood. It can make us feel elated or with no idea why find us falling deep into thought and reflection. That is what I hope this beer does. I hope that people will take the time to read the information inside the label, and think about this wonderful land which is so environmentally diverse, culturally rich and historically challenging, and what it has to offer. If one person thinks about how they could ensure that we all have a place here in the future, I am happy.
What is Beerfarm hoping to achieve with this collaboration between Fervor and Roelands?
Miles: The journey has just started and we have a long way to go. As we navigate this together our learnings will be shared through many means. I feel like having an agenda would blind us to opportunities along the way and we have not done this before, so all we can do is share our experiences and teach others of what we learn around the campfire.
Get your lips around Woolya Wah Red Ale from September 24 at your local Beerfarm stockist...and don't forget to pull back the label to reveal the story of the beer, Wattah Wah and our Australian history underneath. Head to our bottle shop locator by clicking HERE to find one near you.
More about Native Series