David Kitchen was not a craft beer fan when he first entered the beer industry.
Before becoming the Chief Beer Taster at Salisbury brewery Ballistic Beer Co, David worked overseas as an accountant, banker and diplomat. Upon returning home to Australia with his young family, David was perusing businesses for sale in Brisbane when he saw an advertisement for a home brew store. “After buying all the beer for the family Christmas, I thought it would be fun to buy the store as a side business to save money on alcohol. Things got carried away … I wound up buying five stores in the first six months — the rest is history!” It was when David tasted the first drop of his team’s brew that he finally understood how good beer could taste.
David’s original aim at Ballistic was to open a small brewery to give homebrewers the commercial operations and formalised training they needed to pursue a career in the industry. “Running a successful brewery is a large and fairly complicated business and that covers marketing, accounting, legal and more and the idea was to provide training in all those aspects.” However, as with his home brew chain, a simple idea got out of hand and David eventually opened a large-scale brewery in Salisbury.
The brewing industry changed David’s life as he became part of the Salisbury community in a way he had not previously experienced during his 15 years living in the area. It was because of Ballistic that David began to meet people, engage in conversations with locals and collaborate with local businesses. It was this philosophy that he wanted to bring to his West End ale house and kitchen, which opened its doors on Montague Road in early May, with the intention of creating a community hub that mirrored what the Salisbury brewery had created. “In West End, we are amidst hundreds of highrises, and that can be very impersonal. I am hoping our bar becomes a place where people can gather to be a community.”
David’s West End bar carries the core range of Ballistic beers, starting with the Pilot Light mid-strength table beer for an easy tipple after work. Crowd favourite and inside joke Dirty Word Lager plays on the distaste for “lager” in the brewing industry, but unlike others this one delivers with plenty of flavour, receiving two gold medals at the Australian International Beer Awards and CBIA awards in 2017. Ballistic’s take on the popular pale ale is also a gold medal winner, but David’s personal favourite is the gold medal-winning Australian Psycho. The Ballistic team also has free reign to experiment and expand beyond their core beers, like the Oaked IPA. “Unlike most oaked beers that go into barrels and take on a strong oak flavour, this beer is much more subtle.”
From buying a home brew store on a whim, to expanding along Queensland’s south east coast, David shares a pivotal lesson he has learnt at Ballistic. “Quality is absolutely number one. And make sure you are part of your community — they’re the people that are going to support you every day.”
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