We talk to Melbourne’s first lady of walkabout brewing, Sam Füss
What’s the difference between contract brewing and gypsy (or walkabout) brewing?
I’m a professional with 12 years experience, so I just lease a space at other people’s facilities to make my product. I do everything – milling, mashing, bottling – right down to deliveries each Friday and the accounting. Contract brewing is where you pay a brewery to make you a custom beer. A lot of marketing people do it.
Like making a one-off batch called F*ck for quick sales? Is that why contract brewing sometimes gets a bad wrap?
A bit. I’ve had people request I design them a beer. It’s a conflict for me, because there are a lot of cowboys out there, and I prefer people who are passionate about beer.
What are the perks of working like this?
I don’t have the capital to set up my own brewery, and I like having the freedom to express myself and have fun – I want to do an Old Salt surf camp next year. I grew up fishing and surfing and I like telling those stories through my beer, like an old salt.
The pitfalls? Is it hard pushing your own beer?
It could be. That’s the least of my problems right now – I don’t have enough space to brew for some of the customers that want it.
Where are you brewing?
At Prickly Moses in the Otways, staying in the attic above the winery – which I was sharing with a tiger snake last week. I’m going to look at Cavalier’s new facility next.
What beers are you making now?
The Sea Breeze Refreshing Ale. It’s a really good summer beer, but it won’t break any boundaries for beer geeks. I'm going to do a coconut porter for winter.
Could an amateur (like me) lease a brew facility?
Contract breweries like Southern Bay could make your recipe for you. No - it would be like giving your car to someone without a license.