In Food + Drink

The Perth Brewery Changing the Way We View Pubs

They’re a staple on every brewery menu, but for Bright Tank Brewing Co’s head chef Jake Gledhill, adding hot chips to his carefully curated menu was cause for apprehension. As much as they have worked their way up to being an almost essential part of brewery fare, they are far from indicative of the aesthetic that the newly opened East Perth establishment are going for.

Australian culture has seen fish and chips, burgers and pizzas become synonymous with beer venues; but in countries like Belgium, Germany and even America, beer is consumed just as readily with a more refined meal as a good glass of wine is.

“So many breweries just do pizzas – trust me, I love pizza – but our big focus was to show people hey, you can come, have a great meal, great quality food and we will pair our beers to it,” says Josh Edmeades, Bright Tank Brewing Co’s venue manager.

Despite beer being an all-purpose beverage – arguably with far more versatility that wine – beer and fine dining is still a concept that Australia is working its way up to fully embracing.

With a vision to disrupt the current pub and brewery scene in Western Australia, Bright Tank Brewing Co are carefully leading punters away from the associated casual dining scene and into territory that the state hasn’t really explored before. Rather than giving the industry something it has already seen time and time again, the owners of Bright Tank Brewing Co Matthew Moore and Gemma Sampson have a distinct vision to emulate the beer culture of their European counterparts.

While the venue remains as relaxed in atmosphere as any other brewery out there, the carefully brewed, small-batch craft beer and finessed, Australian native-tinged menu puts Bright Tank Brewing Co up there with the most revered restaurants in the state.

In Moore’s own words, Bright Tank Brewing Co “Doesn’t want to be seen as a place that is making food just to suit the environment”.

Their menu steers clear of the pub fare we have come to expect of a beer focused establishment, and instead dips its toes into the world of fine dining. They take the snobbery and formality out of refined food, serve it in a relaxed environment and make it more approachable and accessible to the wider market.

 “We make what we are good at; we make good beer and we make good food. We are good at this sort of food because it is Jake’s food and he has chosen it. He had no influence from us at all other than us saying ‘this is the sort of vibe we are going for’,” says Moore.

After an informal interview that saw Moore handing Gledhill his six core beers and simply telling him that he would be back around for a six-course dinner the following week, the menu for Bright Tank Brewing Co was born. The kitchen is a garlic bread, salt and pepper squid and wedge-free zone – think more along the lines of saison mussels seasoned with saltbush, braised oxtail with rosemary gnocchi, and dry-aged rump cap with bone marrow and desert lime instead.

“Basically, the menu is just food that I like to cook; different things that you aren’t going to see around Perth,” says Gledhill.

He even admits that his approach to the menu at Bright Tank challenges the status quo.

“When I create menus, I think that if it is obvious I won’t go there. I will go the opposite way. We want to surprise people and present things differently here. We have some pretty basic staples on the menu – like pork belly – but we do a lot with it, spend a lot of time on it and present it really well.”

Even the beverage menu bears little resemblance to that of a more traditional brewery, with a carefully curated wine list focused on independent makers from around the world, and a small but more considered beer-based cocktail offering.

“The reason that cocktails haven’t been included at breweries for a long time is simply that their focus is towards beer,” says Edmeades.

“Now, my focus is always going to be beer, but the idea of inclusion is also important to me.’

‘Inclusion’ is the underlying attitude that drives Bright Tank Brewing Co. Across the board – from food and beverage menus to the atmosphere – the team are constantly looking for ways to cater to a wider audience than what the existing craft beer industry in WA does.

“Craft beeries are amazing and they come here and they really enjoy my beer, but they are only a tiny bit of the market when there is such a bigger market that you can cater for,” says Moore.

Published 31 July, 2018