Title: Owner/brewer Seven Sheds Brewery, Meadery & Hop Garden (Railton, Tas)
Annual Output: We may hit 25,000 litres for 2010 but that will be our limit given the current excise rebates and our equipment and methods. I’m more committed to becoming genuinely sustainable than getting any bigger.
What does ‘craft’ beer mean to you?
It’s pretty nebulous and flexible, as is the tag “boutique beer” which it seems to have largely replaced. Even “premium” beer is fraught with necessarily narrow definitions like “more expensive than mainstream beer”. Ideally, “craft” should refer to the spirit of a beer which is full-flavoured and made in relatively small batches. I prefer to call Seven Sheds an “artisan brewery” because we use rare and expensive ingredients, a slow production method for a low yield of what we believe is a full-flavoured beer made by (largely) traditional methods – ie shallow, open fermenters, hop-backs employing hop flowers, using gravity rather than pumps where we can, hand-bottling and keg- and bottle-conditioning. Also, mainly selling directly to customers through our cellar-door and various local festivals.
In your view does Australia need a definition of craft beer similar to the US? Does it matter for consumers who makes the beer?
I’m not convinced we do but obviously the annual volumes would have to be lower than US model. “Independent” is a worry for me – what does that mean exactly? Consumers who are really motivated will spot beers that have genuine provenance or commitment to “craft” ideals – I don’t think spelling it out on the label is necessary.