Josh brews up an award-winning beer
Josh Batten has been crowned one of Queensland's best up and coming brewers at the Royal Queensland Beer Awards.
While studying to become a teacher at university, Josh Batten began brewing beer at home, nudging his career in a different direction and bringing him to TAFE Queensland.
"A friend of mine introduced me to home-brewing with an extract kit, and I fell into it. It started as a hobby, but I became obsessed with brewing beer and began getting every piece of information I could from everywhere,” explained Josh.
Wanting to understand the science behind brewing, Josh undertook work experience at Boiling Pot Brewing Co in Noosa, where he helped at different stages of the process.
With his interest growing and a desire to get a deeper understanding, he decided to get a formal education in the science of making beer.
"I decided to explore education to learn as much about brewing as possible, and the head brewer from Boiling Pot told me about the TAFE Queensland course, and it was exactly what I was looking for."
"While university's all-theory approach didn't work for me, TAFE Queensland’s blend of theory and practice did. I learn better when I can do a task and then see how it's affecting my outcome while I'm doing it, which helps things stick a bit more," explained Josh.
Enrolling in the Certificate III in Food Processing – Brewing (FBP30121), Josh began turning his hobby into his profession under the guidance of his teachers, Kate and Hendo, who have decades of brewing experience at TAFE Queensland's state-of-the-art BrewLab facilities.
"The equipment and the teachers are first class, and it was cool learning in the BrewLab. Using proper industry equipment helped me understand what commercial brewing is like - it was awesome for my training."
"And the program structure was well thought out as we went through each task as you would in the workplace. We started milling grain properly and moved on to wort production, then fermentation management, filtering, and packaging. It was a linear pathway that allowed us to understand every step of the process like we would in the real world."
“Seeing the impact of what you've learnt, like using different hops to get specific flavours in the finished beer, is a gratifying process. To put that theory into practice in industry-standard facilities, guided by excellent teachers, was terrific for my learning," he said.
After graduating, Josh joined the brewing team at 10 Toes Brewing in Alexandra Headland on the Sunshine Coast. He brought his skills to produce their core and seasonal range of beers in the custom 20hL brewhouse, using nine fermentation tanks, a centrifuge and a canning line.
"Every commercial brew risks thousands of dollars in raw materials, but my TAFE training helped me to build those fundamental habits when doing anything not to screw up a batch. I still hear Hendo's voice in my head when I'm going through a process saying, 'don't do that, don't do this.'"
"And I step it out, take a moment to think about it and see what I've done. Then before pulling any leavers, go through it again and don’t rush it, which is crucial when working with commercial volumes," continued Josh.
Josh's brewing skills were recognised when he won The Royal Queensland Beer Awards Best New Queensland Craft Brewer of the Year in 2023.
"After being nominated by my Head Brewer, Andrew, I wasn't sure how I'd go and didn't think too about it. Then I got a call from the judges for an interview, and I was like, ‘it's getting a bit serious.'"
"I still didn't expect much on the awards day, but I won the best New Brewer award. I feel so fortunate and privileged to work at 10 Toes because I wouldn't have been nominated if it wasn't for Andrew. So, it says a lot about the support I'm given working here," he said.
Josh explains that another strength of studying with TAFE Queensland was the industry contacts he made within the class that supported him at the awards.
"It's an outstanding industry, and the people within it are so passionate and always willing to help you succeed. There aren’t many industries like this – you’re encouraged to do your own thing, and people from other breweries are always happy to support you."
Josh's winning recipe for the "Dark Star", a single hopped Black India Pale Ale (IPA), showcased his brewing skills and earned him a 12-month contract at Star Entertainment's Treasury Brisbane to stock a range of 10 Toes Brewery craft beers.
"You don't see a Black IPA often because they're hard to do. But when they're done well, they're delicious, so I thought it'd be a fun challenge."
"It's excellent that the prize helps the business and will keep us busy for at least a year, so winning just made work busier – but I'm not complaining," concluded Josh.