At Home with Dave Padden and Wesley White

Local brewers and brothers-in-law, Dave Padden and Wesley White, began making beers in Five Dock two years ago.  In that short time, their business, Akasha Brewing, has flourished into an important fixture of the Inner West community. They tell us about what makes a great beer, and how to make an old school burger.

You co-founded the company together as brothers-in-law. What’s it like to work with family?

We created good boundaries at the start by listing each other’s strengths, weakness, likes and dislikes. Then we laid them out and together worked out our best approach. In business we are not family, but business partners. We have known each other a long time and have very complementary skill sets which is very important in a successful business relationship.

When did you fall in love with beer?

Before I became a professional brewer I was lucky enough to travel extensively throughout the United States. The craft beer scene in the States has been around for a lot longer than ours, and I fell in love with their big, tasty and hoppy beers well over 15 years ago. Back then we didn’t have a lot of choice here in Australia, but the last 5 to 10 years has seen the industry flourish and the choice is now huge. The beers that we brew at Akasha are very heavily influenced by my experience in the States and I still try to get back there as often as possible.

Why did you choose the Inner West for a beer-brewing location?

We wanted somewhere where there was still family business and community and somewhere to make our own. It’s difficult in Sydney to find that, and a warehouse. I think we are very fortunate to have found a factory in Five Dock and one that has owners who were like minded to us.

Most of us at Akasha love our food just as much as our beer, and the multicultural diversity that we have in the Inner West means we have some of the best food offerings in Sydney on our doorstep. We are often working with other businesses in the Inner West on creative and unique ways to bring these two awesome things together. We are also blessed with many venues that have supported the independent beer movement and having them close by ensures our beer is always very fresh and we keep the beer miles low!

What is your favourite thing about making beers?

We love what we do! Brewing beer is a lot of hard work but everyone at the brewery is always striving to brew even better beer every week. Much like cooking, the quality of our beer comes down to quality ingredients and we are constantly scouring the globe for new ingredients that will help us create a better, more enjoyable experience. The biggest thrill for us as brewers is experiencing the excitement of our customers, new and old, as they enjoy one of our creations.

What’s the best part of being in the Inner West?

We are fortunate to have an area that is ever changing. Very established families and connections but now also new couples and families moving in. It’s a great community. We’ve been overwhelmed by the support of our locals who see us as a key part of their community after just a couple of short years.

What is your dish of choice to enjoy with beer?

There are such a diverse range of beers available these days in Australia — there is a beer to match almost any dish you could think of. I fell in love with low and slow BBQ in the States – Give me a 12 hour slow cooked brisket matched with an Akasha Fire Within Amber Ale any day.

I also absolutely love a good burger and am constantly on the hunt in Sydney for the next best thing. Like anything though, the best always uses quality local ingredients without getting too fancy.

Dave’s Old School Burger

Makes 6

1kg of good quality mince

1 onion

2 garlic cloves

2 tablespoons of thickened cream

1 tomato, sliced thinly

6 American style cheese slices

12 slices of maple bacon

Iceberg lettuce

Your favourite BBQ sauce

Traditional hamburger bun

  1. Mix all the burger ingredients in a bowl and season with plenty of salt and pepper. Form into patties.
  2. Brush patties with oil and cook on a medium/hot BBQ for 4-5 minutes each side.
  3. Place the cheese on the patty for the last couple of minutes so it melts slightly.
  4. Cook the bacon in a pan until crispy
  5. Cut the rolls in half and lightly toast under a grill. Spread a small amount of butter on each side (I love Pepe Saya)
  6. Place the patty and cheese on half of the bun, followed by bacon, sliced tomato, lettuce and BBQ sauce. Top with the other bun half and eat immediately matched with your favourite Australian Pale Ale (preferably an Akasha Freshwater Pale Ale!)