After more than two decades as the country's leading - and for long periods - only beer writer, Willie Simpson decided to put his money where his mouth was. Or more precisely, his mash tun where his pen was. Along with partner Catherine Stark, he opened Seven Sheds in 2008, a brewery and meadery on a property in Railton, in Tasmania's northwest, comprising, you've guessed it, seven sheds.
A purist and traditionalist, he brews a wide range of ales, from the refreshingly quaffable Paradise Pale summer seasonal and raspberry flavoured Razzamatazz to bolder affairs, such as the Belgian style Elephant's Trunk, Stark Raven oatmeal stout and Willie Warmer spiced ale. Where possible, the beers use hops grown on trellises next to the brewhouse. And, when time permits, he likes to turn his hand to creating meads and fruit-infused melomels.
Also onsite is the Seven Sheds cellar door, built from the ground up, that welcomes several thousand guests every year through its door. It's the best place to sample a wide range of his beers, often including Willie's Brewer's Reserves, which have included a Smoking Bagpipes beer made with 100 per cent peat smoked malt - smoked onsite with Tasmanian peat - and the Royal Willie, a wonderfully rich, high alcohol version of the Willie Warmer aged in barrels from Lark Distillery. You can also find Seven Sheds beers at Tasmania's leading beer venues and, on occasion, on the mainland, while Willie and Catherine are regular supporters of a huge number of festivals around the state.
The Leggett, Fuggle and Cascade hops grown at Seven Sheds are used for a series of “hop harvest” brews including Leggett India Pale Ale, Fuggled Porter and ELF. In 2017, a Fuggling Mild was created for Launceston’s Fresh Hop Festival and the first season harvest of Cascade ended up in Island Hopper - Seven Sheds’ inaugural collaboration brew with Bruny Island Beer Co.