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Native quandong bush fruits crafted into beer and gin in regional Western Australia

Aaron Fernandes, Sunday December 3, 2017 - 18:02 EDT
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Quandongs, a native bush fruit, have been crafted into quandong beer. - ABC

A bumper quandong harvest in the south of Western Australia helped by record breaking summer rainfall earlier this year has sparked something rather unique — boutique quandong booze.

The quandong is a crimson red native fruit, a member of the sandalwood family, that grows throughout much of southern Australia.

And with some fruit this year being the size of 'golf balls' local liquor barons are getting creative.

In Albany, what is believed to be the first ever quandong beer has been brewed and in Margaret River a local distiller has tried his hand at a quandong gin.

Quandong connoisseurs

Noongar cultural tour operator Joey Williams and Matt Wilson, head brewer of a local craft brewery, are trialling the bitterness of the quandong as a compliment to the traditional malted barley, yeast and hops of beer.

Mr Wilson said Mr Williams had approached him about six months ago to ask if they could make beer with quandongs.

"They're in season at the moment, so Joey went out and handpicked them and delivered to us," Mr Wilson said.

Mr Williams said the quandongs, a wild fruit similar to a peach, were growing in ample size and volume in his hometown of Tambellup.

"I picked a couple last week the size of golf balls."

Bush tucker booze

Their creation may be the first time quandongs have been used in a beer, but the bush foods connoisseurs are not the only liquor makers who see potential in the native fruit.

In Margaret River, a distillery is using quandongs as a botanical in gin.

"They grow a red-fleshy outside, and a round hard nut in the middle similar to a macadamia," said Cameron Syme, Director of Limeburners distillery.

"There is a level of sweetness but also a level of sourness and bitterness and other flavours in the quandong as well."

After the rains

For some residents of the Great Southern, this year's bountiful quandong harvest is the best ever and may be the result of the February floods.

Six months ago, heavy rainfall caused lakes and rivers to spill over across southern parts of Western Australia.

Now the waters have subsided, the crimson-red quandong has appeared all over the moisture-laden landscape.

"It has been good for us this year, last year too actually, but this year I've noticed there's more of them out there and they're a bit bigger," Grant Riley, a quandong harvester, said.

"I think because of the big rain, the ground is pretty wet underneath so the quandongs are producing pretty good."


© ABC 2018

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