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Malts in Marrickville

Brayden Lew shares his journey to beer-making and his new position at the local brewery, Wildflower Brewing & Blending

Brayden Lew, Wildflower Brewing


After a uni-holiday trip to Germany in his early-twenties, Brayden Lew was inspired to take the leap from teaching to brewing. “In Germany I was introduced to greater concepts of beer,” Brayden said. “I always had an interest in cooking and the more I looked into it, I saw the similarities”. 


After learning more about what beer can be, other than the “run-of-the-mill” pub favourites, Brayden was inspired to begin home-brewing upon his return to Australia. Having grown up regionally, Brayden had access to angle-grinders, welders and other equipment that would help transform his two-bedroom flat into a makeshift brewery, to begin his foray into the industry. 


“I looked into brewing as an option to study” Brayden told Neighbourhood Media, and while he had seen university courses on brewing in Germany, it wasn’t something he could find in Australia. “I was scouring the internet for blog-posts and publications to help me learn more” as a result took to working in venues to continue learning the trade. 


“I did what everyone does when they start home-brewing which is force it on to everyone around you” Brayden jokes. This included friends, family and eventually industry professionals he met at events while working in different venues and breweries around Sydney. Eventually TAFE NSW launched their Certificate III in Food Processing (Brewing) in 2016 and Brayden which Brayden completed in the course’s first year. A representative from TAFE NSW has told Neighbourhood Media that there is currently a surge in demand for brewers, with the food and drink manufacturing industry forecast to grow by almost 4,000 jobs by 2026.

While boutique breweries are certainly on the rise in Sydney, there are still very few formal educational pathways for those interested in brewing. “Sits in a strange zone in-between factory production, food handling… it’s very much an artform” Brayden said. “It has creative elements like recipe design, so it can be a difficult thing to structure a course around. What TAFE did very well was bringing together both the theoretical side and the practical…you’re in a classroom but you’re also immediately going into the breweries throughout Sydney and solidifying that information”. 


Brayden, who moved to the United Kingdom shortly after finishing his TAFE certificate, noted that many of the graduates with formal degrees from the likes of Heriot-Watt University in Scotland, lacked the physical and practical knowledge of brewing.” You’re constantly climbing in and out of vessels and cleaning. It gets said a lot but you're basically a glorified janitor that has to have knowledge in microbiology”. Brayden reflected that TAFE had equipped him with both the knowledge and practical skills necessary for brewery work. 


Now returned to Sydney, Brayden has recently taken up post as the Head Brewer of Wildflower Brewing & Blending which opened in Marrickville in 2016, a full circle moment for Brayden who had previously worked at the Brewer during his TAFE studies. 


For those unfamiliar with the local brewery, Wildflower is the brain-child of brothers-in-law Topher Boehm and Chris Allen, who had the revolutionary idea to ferment their ales with a diversity of yeasts and bacteria collected from native flowers throughout NSW. “Most breweries will buy and use traditional brewer’s yeast…whereas our cultures have hundreds of stands of yeast” Brayden explained, adding that this method and by maturing the beer in former wine barrels, helps give Wildflower ales’ their unique flavour. 


In addition to brewing their beers in Marrickville, Wildflower is committed to using local ingredients; We work with organic and responsibly sourced malt, hops and everything we use is from NSW”. Brayden also added that Wildflower is “massively focused on environmental factors as production industries like brewing can be quite consumptive”, noting that Wildflower is also in minimal single-use plastic and chemical usage. Wildflower also builds close connections with other local businesses including the farmers that supply their grain. “We’re committed to working responsibly so we are making something that tastes good but also feels good”. 



Wildflower Brewing & Blending


Regarding his new role Brayden said “everyone wants to make their mark on a new role” adding that he had always admired the work being done at Wildflower since his time as a trainee. “Our business is about quality so the idea between continuing to influence creativity and come up with new ideas for beer and using native ingredients is what I’m really passionate about”.


To learn more about Wildflower’s ale production or to test out the goods for yourself, visit the brewery at 11-13 Brompton Street, Marrickville. For cellar door opening hours and to place an order, head to www.wildflowerbeer.com 



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