How would you define the term “gypsy brewer”? Essentially, gypsy brewing is a form of contract brewing in where a brewer with no premises or equipment of their own rents fermenter space with an established location to be able to produce their product. But that definition is pretty dry and doesn’t really delve into the complexities the practice entails.
Gypsies have their problems, ranging from a lack of space for them to rent, unfamiliar equipment, and unpredictability. This however, is offset by some pretty great bonuses. The simple fact that they can get their product to market without the risk of financial ruin allows them to keep the creative juices flowing and really bring something different to the people.
This feature will showcase a few of our gypsy brewers here whom will also be peddling their wares at the upcoming “Tipsy with the Gypsy” event at the Mill on Constance on October 17th this year. Who better to describe the ins and outs better then the folks who live it?
First off the rank are a 3 lads who took Queensland by storm last year with their Eggnog Stout! Black Hops consists of Eddie Oldfield, Michael McGovern, and Dan Norris. Eddie took some time to answer a few questions for me:
Almost 12 months as Black Hops. We had our first commercial release/launch of our Eggnog Stout at Hooha Bar on November 2 2014.
Where do you mainly brew out of?
We mainly brew out of Bacchus (thanks Ross!!) but have also brewed at The Pumpyard in Ipswich & Beard & Brau.
Probably our Beach House, our more local take on a farmhouse ale. It’s the one that took the most home-brews to get it to where we wanted it to be, we think it’s a little bit unique & we all really just enjoy drinking it. It’s been our biggest seller also.
You have the ability to brew beer without the expense of owning a brewery is the obvious answer. But also a way to get your foot in the door and see if it’s for you.
The main struggle is that tank space is quite rare and we have limited options in QLD. It’s also quite expensive & certainly not something you can make a living on, not in QLD at the moment anyway.
Try and be as self sufficient as you can be. Examples of this would be get your Producer/Wholesale licence as a priority. This means you can sell your beer under your own licence, but it also means the brewery you brewed out of doesn’t have to chase up your unpaid invoices, you have to do that.Look to get your own kegs or use keg star. Kegs are expensive & just another thing the brewery you are brewing out of probably don’t want to be trying to keep track of on your behalf.
Also whilst it’s not really a thing in QLD yet, but in Melbourne, it’s quite common that gypsy brewers will own a fermenter at a brewery, it’s just another example of being self sufficient.