A Chat With The Mind Behind 2020’s Best Australian Beer - The Goodfather
In talks with Ben Twomey, Founder & Director of Southern Highlands Brewing - the home to 2020’s best Australian beer.
The 3rd edition of the London Beer Competition saw beers from across the globe take medals for their quality, value, and packaging. Amongst the plethora of winners, one that stood out with a whopping 92 points was an Australian Porter - The Goodfather. The Goodfather is a Porter brewed by Southern Highlands Brewing, and is known for being ‘handsome’. Along with grabbing a gold medal, The Goodfather also won “Best in show by Country”, grabbing the title of Best Australian Beer of 2020.
We spoke to Ben Twomey, Founder & Director at Southern Highlands Brewing. Twomey spoke to us about the birth of Southern Highlands, how they brew beer, what beer they brew, and he also gave us a glance into the Southern Highlands team.
Tell us a bit about yourself and how Southern Highlands Brewing came about
We came about in 2015 after me and the Brewer became mates playing rugby for the Bowral Blacks in the Southern Highlands. We were home brewing for over 20 years and we started the business together! Southern Highlands is the closest thing we would have to the "Home Counties" of Sydney, 90 minutes from Sydney with picturesque rolling hills. At 600-700m above sea level, we occasionally get snow!!
Tell us a little bit about your beers. What are the different beers you make, and what's the story?
We have a core range of 7 beers across the spectrum of beer, namely Pale Ale, Australian Blonde, IPA, Porter, Red Ale, Lager, and Mid Strength Pale Ale. Every three months we put out our Seasonal, the Rain Ale or Shine Series, which will be a beer for the seasons. Our previous seasonal was the Isolation IIPA made for the COVID lockdown (sold out in 6 days) and our current one is a Dark Tropical suiting the cooler months we have in Australia right now.
What’s the story behind your winning beer “The Goodfather”?
The "Goodfather" was named in honor of both my father and the brewer's father that both died of Brain Cancer. They both loved Porter and so we named it the Goodfather, a play on the Godfather. Our charity we support at the Brewery is Brain Cancer research.
Your beer won Best in the show by country (Australia). What about the Goodfather makes it radiate the Australian beer culture?
I think the quality of the beer. The beer also scores well in the Australian Craft Beer awards, the IBAs. Australian are becoming very savvy and discerning about their beer tastes.
For you, how important is it entering beer competitions? How does the medal help you sell?
Extremely important for two reasons. It validates us as a serious local player by becoming a multi-award-winning Brewery both in Australia and overseas in a crowded domestic market. It also aids in our export market which has just recently commenced as we are now providing beer into Hong Kong.
Where can we find the Godfather? Retail, online?
In Australia, Retail, Wholesale, and Online. Since we won the award last week all three channels have been very active.
What are some of the ways in which your brewery might be different, is there something unique you're doing?
Our retail outlet, the Taphouse. We decided to break with the convention of the brewery being the retail outlet and have created a spiritual home in a conservation listed building in Moss Vale, NSW. The objective is to align the premium product of craft beer with brasserie-style cuisine, match beer, and food in a stylish and sophisticated environment. It has been a great marketing suite for the Brewery. The Chef and the Brewer sit down and design recipes around the beer. Check it out at on our website
Tell us a bit about your team
Camo (Cameron James) is the Head Brewer and a third-generation "Highlander", ie from the Southern Highlands. Quiet and humble achiever and would always be the bass player in a rock band!
Genevieve Twomey, aka my wife, who designed and runs the Taphouse and has made it one of the most popular places in the Southern Highlands and a great marketing suite for the brand.
Trish Lange, graphic designer, and brand management. Creative, witty, and brand stickler!
Lizzie Norman, marketing and social media. On message, on time, and our biggest fan!
Scott McIntyre, chef. Has created our Beer Cuisine menu and is a top-class Chef. Understand his flavors.
Myself, finance, strategic direction, and business management!
What are some of the marketing techniques you're using right now? Especially post lockdown.
Lockdown gave us the impetus to put the product online which we were always getting around to but was too busy. This gave us the third channel apart from Retail and Wholesale. Interestingly during the lockdown, we kept communication up with all existing and prospective clients and we were winning new customer even during this period, it seemed that people were reviewing their existing purchasing and opportunities opened up!
In your own words, describe to us how winning an LBC medal is making you feel
Proud of our Brewer and our marketing Team!
And lastly Ben, what are you drinking right now?'
It's Winter here, the Porter of course!