Best brews in an unlikely place

Trina Youchak and  Mark Rivers  in their brewery and (below) Mark at the door.
Picture: Jon Hewson   d449183
Trina Youchak and Mark Rivers in their brewery and (below) Mark at the door. Picture: Jon Hewson d449183

Brewer Mark Rivers’ life changed direction after one of his homebrews did well in a competition five years ago.

He and his wife Trina gave up their careers and started Three Rivers Brewing Company.

Mark was an environmental scientist who spent a good part of his 25 year career “banging his head against a brick wall”.

The couple “jumped into the deep end” and started the brewery in an effort to work in a social environment in a sustainable manner while they got people drinking good beer.

Mark said people had created a concept of micro-breweries in WA – this concept included burgers on boards and children’s playgrounds.

“But there are more serious beer makers and high-end beer venues out there,” he said.

“Craft breweries are usually all about extreme beers, but we do authentic traditional beer.”

Beer brewing works well with Mark’s scientific background and he said it was a “left-brain, right-brain thing”.

Left brain thinkers are traditionally considered to be analytical, while right brain thinkers are more creative.

It takes the left brain to keep the quality of the beer high but the right brain to think up new types of beer, according to Mark.

Mark came late to the beer drinking game and tasted his first beer when he was 18, which he said was quite old.

“It was Emu Export because that’s what dad drank,” he said.

His family came to Australia to escape Margaret Thatcher’s England and Mark was enrolled in a high school in Kwinana.

The name Three Rivers Brewery comes from the three rivers of the Peel region – the Harvey, the Murray and the Serpentine – where Mark spent many years working.

Then there are the three rivers of Pittsburgh – the Allegheny, the Monongahela and the Ohio – Mark’s wife Trina’s hometown.

They also have three Rivers in their family – Mark, Trina and their daughter – who came up with the name.

Mark, who is the quieter spouse, gives great credit to his lively wife Trina for her part in the creation of the brewery.

“She’s a great marketer and communicator,” he said.

“I do the easy bit and she does the hard bit – the selling and the tasting.”

While Mark does not have any beers he hates, he tries to avoid drinking beers that come from clear bottles.

He said beer can become “skunked” due to a chemical reaction that takes place between the bitter hops and ultraviolet light.

“It takes five to 10 minutes in the sunshine,” he said.

“The beer develops a similar smell to a skunk. Once you’ve smelled a skunk, you never forget it.”

This scent memory gives Mark an advantage when he acts as a competition beer judge.

“We wanted to put our beer in black bottles to prevent this, but then they were hard to fill,” he said.

Rachel tried:

The Jester Kolsch, is a pilsner brewed with ale.

It’s an entry level beer ideal for Aussie lager drinkers.

The Belgian Witbeer is good for wine drinkers.

It contains rolled oats, rolled wheat, chopped lemon, orange and coriander.

It was the fruitiest of all the beers.

The Rude Boy is an English beer and they will do a growler-full for people to take home.

English malt gives this one its flavour. This beer might be dark in colour, but it tastes nothing like it looks – it has a caramel, toffee flavour, but is surprisingly refreshing and isn’t just a winter beer.

The Tomahawk is an American pale ale and is a dry-hopped beer.

It has the highest International Bitterness Unit (IBU) score of all the River’s beers. It’s quite different to the more popular pale ales on the market – the flavours are more balanced in this one.

It’s $20 for an assorted sixpack,

It is beer o’clock down at Three Rivers Brewing Company on Friday and Saturday afternoons, 12pm – 6pm.

There are four beers to try on tap and others by the bottle.

Three Rivers Brewing Company is at 2/6 Harlem Place in Greenfields.