ROAR: Hey guys, thanks for chatting with us! First off, how did you get started? Where heard it's quite a story!!
Chris: The answer to that is two fold. The idea was originally sporned, believe it or not, from a close encounter with a family of black bears, in Alaska. While taking a walk to visit a glacier, we were with an armed guide...due to the native wildlife. I lagged behind and suddenly a tussle to my left in the thick bushes, then, one.....two.....three tiny baby black bears popped onto the path not two metres from me. My heart swelled, how gorgeous! Then came the startling realisation that mumma wouldn't be too far off! I looked up, the group (which consisted of our other two founders and the guide) were a fair distance ahead. As mumma bear stepped out into the path between me and the group I should of been terrified but suddenly I felt totally calm. She was magnificent! Huge and deadly, but totally magnificent. She stopped, looked into my eyes for a lingering moment and then moved forward towards her babies and all four crossed the path, disappearing into the bushes. The beating of my heart suddenly pierced the silent calm I'd felt and I ran to catch up with the group. I shall never forget that moment our eyes locked….fiercely magical! Afterwards we went to Alaskan Brewing Co. for a tour and had a few good beers! I needed one! The idea seeded at that point.
Back home we had an organic vineyard and we continued to be asked if we would make an organic beer. We had however several friends who were either gluten intolerant or Coeliac, who kept asking, “Please make some gluten free beer because we can’t find any that are nice.” So we decided to make a great tasting beer that was also reasonablly priced. We have done that and it’s very popular even with people who are not gluten intolerant because they like a nice tasting pale ale that is a healthier choice.
ROAR: What a crazy story! Your one lucky guy! What is your company name and what does it involve?
Koala Beer Pty Ltd is our company name and WILDE is our Gluten Free beer brand.
Our key focus is Gluten Free! Which is so important as many people are now being diagnosed with Coeliac and need to abstain from Gluten.
ROAR: How do you make beer Gluten Free?
Chris: Beer is usually made from barley and/or wheat. Gluten is a component of many grains, including barley and wheat. Gluten triggers a response in people with Coeliac disease and in those that are gluten intolerant, that makes them feel unwell. Since around 1% of Australians are gluten intolerant or allergic it is dangerous for them to drink ordinary beer. There are also many that remain undiagnosed but they know they feel better if they avoid gluten. In addition, some people have a wheat intolerance or allergy. So, Australian Koala Beer Pty Ltd, has had a technical breakthrough with alternative grains that do not contain gluten, to produce a quality gluten free beer at a reasonable price and that tastes amazing!
WILDE tastes like normal beer! WILDE is preservative free, it is a clean natural beer. WILDE is the tastier, healthier option for the health conscious drinker.
ROAR: You have won some awesome awards! Fill us in on the awards and how it made you feel to be recognised for such a great quality brand.
Chris: Thankyou! Yes we feel very excited and proud every time we are awarded. WILDE Gluten-Free Pale Ale, brewed by Koala Beer Pty Ltd, has been awarded a Silver Medal at The Australian International Beer Awards (AIBA), a Gold medal by the New Zealand Brewers Guild in 2014, as well as two bronze medals.
The AIBA is renowned for celebrating and promoting brewing excellence in both Australia and around the world. The AIBA is the largest competition for the beer industry in the Asia Pacific region.
Medals are awarded according to a stringent points system to reflect quality standards. In 2014 a record number of 1,560 brews were entered from 294 brewers in 31 countries and were assessed by an expert panel of 40 judges from Belgium, Norway, USA, UK, Japan, Australia and NZ.
Unlike Swimming where there is a gold, silver and bronze awarded to 1st, 2nd and 3rd fastest, beer judging is the same as wine judging, points are awarded for a range of attributes and gold, silver and bronze medals are awarded to the entrants who achieve a certain level of points to recognize the beer’s quality. Therefore there could be several golds or no golds depending on how many beers are above the threshold value. It is particularly difficult to have a perfect flavour profile in the gluten free class.
It is generally recognized if a beer has achieved any medal it is a fine example of the class. In the AIBA 2014 no gold was awarded in the Gluten-free section, so our Silver was the top award!
ROAR: There must be some challenges in creating a start up. Could you give us a couple? There must be highlights too! What's your biggest highlight?
Chris: The beer sector in Australia is an enormous industry with powerful multinational companies that can sometimes be difficult to compete with or deal with. Expanding distribution as demand grew was one of the biggest challenges in the early years.
Koala Beer is still operating after 8 years and doubling our turnover every year. One of the highlights of doing business in this industry is that the largest independent distributor /wholesaler in Australia contacted us because of our WILDE beer. This relationship is working so well that it allows us to operate in all states, including Tasmania very soon!
ROAR: That's exciting news! Tasmania would love it! What are you most excited about for 2015?
We are most excited about releasing our new beer WILDE Raspberry Gluten Free Pale Ale and later in the year we will release our third beer which is still under wraps.
WILDE Gluten Free Beer - Tasting notes
WILDE Gluten Free presents as a golden Pale Ale.
Careful selection of hop variety gives the beer a citrus and pine character in the aroma with floral hints which rounds out the beer, with a bitter but clean, flavorsome finish. A slight tartness from the malt balances nicely with the bitterness, giving a lift that leaves you wanting more. The beer has been crafted with no added sugar, colour, nor preservatives.
Gluten Free WILDE Raspberry was created to give health conscious drinkers and Coeliacs the opportunity to enjoy another refreshing and interesting beer in the WILDE range. The daring inclusion of fresh raspberries provides a delightful pink hue, a raspberry aroma, and a fruity balance to the bitterness of the varietal hops. Natural raspberries are fermented with the grain to provide a delicate complexity and a mid-strength 3% alcohol. Your nose will also pick out citrus, orange and mandarin aromas. WILDE Raspberry is a refreshing Pale Ale style of beer with a wonderful colour and flavour, crafted with no added sugar, colour, nor preservatives.
Koala Beer provides peace of mind for the growing number of health conscious, gluten intolerant and environmentally aware consumers, who demand tasty products to support their healthy lifestyles. Koala Beer Pty Ltd was founded upon the premise that beer should not only taste great, it should be a clean natural product.
Koala Beer brews clean natural beers –WILDE Gluten Free Pale Ale, and WILDE Raspberry Gluten Free Pale Ale.
ROAR: We love how you have been starting to support small business, sponsor events and choose some exciting ambassadors to share your brand and what you stand for! Fill us in on some of the things your getting involved.
Chris: We love supporting small business as that's how we started! As we are a healthier option we love supporting likeminded events and entrepreneurs. These include Bound Yoga apparel (@boundyogaapparel) which is a small Newcastle (Where we are based) start up business hand screen printing organic and fair trade yoga apparel. Michelle (the owner) loves Wilde and says it's her favourite beer which is also a bonus! We feel their mission is in line with ours and supported their launch. We also have a surfer Jay Mulherin who is a successful longboard surfer and owns the surf shop @driftwoodcoastalculture. We will be helping Jay with fundraising. We have recently sponsored Vanlife (@vanlifediaries) and their gatherings in Australia which is really exciting!