Boundary Island Brewery opened their doors at the start of 2022 and, while Mandurah locals and tourists visiting the coastal city have been enjoying the waterfront brewpub from day one, there's a good chance they only appeared on many beer lovers' radars more recently.
Midway through May, the small Western Australian brewery won the Gary Sheppard Memorial Trophy at the Australian International Beer Awards. The Best New Exhibitor Trophy is only open to breweries in the first year they enter the country's largest beer competition and is awards to the entrant that secures the most gold medals or trophies. A fortnight later, they won the equivalent trophy back on home turf at the Perth Royal Beer Awards.
Winning back-to-back trophies at both national and state level is a rare feat and suggests that, beyond the quite stunning views, there's something special taking place on Mandurah Quay.
Behind the beers is Dylan Kelly, who grew up in Fremantle and brewed in New Zealand after visiting as a backpacker. Later, he returned to brew in his home state before moving to Sydney to work at 4 Pines' Brookvale production site where, after a couple of years, he became head brewer at 4 Pines' original Manly brewpub. As he considered a move back west, the chance to join Boundary Island Brewing ahead of its opening – and a long lockdown – helped him make the decision.
“I wasn’t quite interested in going back yet," he told The Crafty Pint. "but there was a lot of COVID in Sydney, so I was like, ‘Maybe it's time’."
While picking up two trophies has meant a lot, he says he entered the AIBAs and Perth Royal Beer Awards for the feedback and to see how his beers compared to those of his peers.
“I’m very critical of my beers," he says. "Even the ones that have got gold, there are plenty of things I want to change. But it’s just nice to see where you stand and how your beers stack up compared with everyone else."
Dylan thinks part of their success comes from his focus on the Boundary Island core range: as a small operation, he has complete control over the beer they sell, which rarely strays far from where it's made.
“Most of the beer is just over our bar," he says. "It's nice to be able to have close control; we do a little bit of canning, but we’re small.
“A lot of our beer is core range that I’ve brewed over and over too, so that helps for sure.”
The brewery was launched by two Mandurah families after a spot on Mandurah Quay became available. Located less than an hour south of Perth, the coastal city is a popular destination for day-trippers and weekenders looking to get out of Perth, and also serves as something of a gateway to the Margaret River region. And, like many of the breweries further south, Boundary Island Brewing opened with a focus on hospitality, opening from breakfast each morning.
"There's us, King Road Brewing, and a couple of other breweries that sort of have that vibe of somewhere down south," Dylan says.
To find out more about the trophy-winners, we invited Dylan to join us as part of our long-running Who Brews...? series.
Boundary Island Brewery
Who are you?
Head – and only – brewer at Boundary Island. Ex-4 Pines, ex-Thorny Devil, ex-Renaissance brewer. Previously finished a degree in Urban Planning and went straight to brewing.
Our brewery is owned by two local couples – Cynthia and Mark Graham and Ben and Cass Sweeny. They’re all involved in the business to some degree with Cynthia being our general manager.
Why do you brew?
I love the mix of science, art and craft. There’s always something new to learn and it keeps me physically active. You also can’t beat the community around brewing.
Was there a beer or a moment that set you on the path to becoming a brewer?
Hop Hog and Weihenstephaner Hefe were the two beers that opened my eyes to beer initially. As a career, it was more of a gradual move in that direction.
It started with beer appreciation and homebrewing; I then lucked into my first brewing job at Renaissance while travelling around NZ, living in a van. I was looking for a seasonal farm job to settle down over the winter and I was stoked when I saw a brewer job pop up on the backpacker jobs board.
What’s the inspiration behind the brewery's name?
Boundary Island is a small island in the estuary right outside our venue.
What beer in your lineup best represents you and why?
I’m a big fan of flavourful beers with a pretty moderate ABV. Our Estuary Ale XPA definitely fits that. I also try to slip in a nice malty red/brown beer wherever possible.
Our Red Lager, Smoked Marzen and English Brown have been a few favourites.
If you could have any person in the world join you on a brew day, who would it be, and why?
I made some really good mates over the few years I was at 4 Pines. They’ve all now scattered and moved to every state but NSW. Would love to catch up with any of them for a brew on one of our kits.
If anyone drops in on brew day, what are they most likely to hear blasting from the speakers?
Being the only one in the brewery, I’ve always got my headphones in listening to a brewing podcast. Otherwise, it’s probably something I discovered on Triple J in my early 20s.
What beers are in your fridge right now?
A few Belgian beers that my wife bought for my birthday. Apart from that, mostly mid-strength fridge-fillers and a few stouts.
What would be your desert island beer of choice?
Rodenbach Grand Cru has got to be my all-time favourite, but acid reflux is starting to catch up with me.
The Czech Pils from Wild Hop was unbelievably smashable on a recent trip to Margaret River.
Which local beers have blown your mind in recent weeks?
King Road IPA is the best new beer I’ve tried in a long time. That just took out the IPA trophy at Perth Royal.
Is there a particular style, ingredient, or trend in beer you'd like to explore further?
Small, traditional European red and brown beer styles. English, Scottish, German, Czech – I love them all.
Where can people find your beers?
The best way is on tap at our venue in Mandurah. We also do a small number of cans for takeaways and a few local bottleshops.
Where do you hope your brewery will be ten years from now?
I love being able to serve the beer right next to where it’s brewed. Hopefully, we can keep building our reputation and help turn the Peel area into a craft beer hub.
You can visit both Boundary Island Brewing by heading to the Mandurah Quay Resort at 21 Marina Quay Drive, Erskine. You'll find them alongside 1300-plus and counting breweries and good beer venues in the Crafty Pint app, designed to help beer lovers find their nearest good beer wherever they are.