“If you’d told me that when I left university I was going to be living in Norway and brewing beer, I would have said you were insane,” says Alex Poulsen, who went on to do just that, after first earning his stripes at Little Creatures Brewery in Fremantle.
“I loved science but didn’t want to follow the research route and pull on a lab coat. Dad’s a lawyer and mum has done a whole lot of different things, and yes, they did look at me strangely when I said I wanted to use my skills to craft alcohol but it just goes to show where you can go.”
Alex returned to Perth after his stint in Europe (where he also learnt how to make the Scandinavian spirit Akvavit) to take up a role as head distiller at Hippocampus, a boutique inner-city distillery in West Perth set up by a group of WA spirits enthusiasts.
With his lab equipment now including a 450 litre, custom-made copper-pot still named Kylie (it’s traditional to give your still a girl’s name), Alex found a natural home, his first vodka being released in January 2015.
Success came early for the small-scale distillery in the form of a number of international awards, multiple orders and a busy and popular once-a-week cellar-door session.
“Our still is steam-driven, giving us maximum control over the distilling process and allowing us to preserve the essence of the grain,” he says.
Our philosophy is all about creating the highest quality, handcrafted spirits and there’s not a day that it’s boring, I really enjoy it.
Even the name Hippocampus is a nod to science – it’s the scientific name for a seahorse, and also refers to the part of the brain that turns short-term experiences into memories (and yes, is shaped like a seahorse).
We thought it was perfect to describe the really interesting and memorable drinks we wanted to create.
*Hippocampus recently merged with Boatrocker Brewing in Melbourne, and is now known as Boatrocker Brewers and Distillers. It’s meant a move east for Alex Poulsen (and his copper still), a change he says he’s excited about.
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