Sailors Grave Brewing

Sometimes, even with hindsight, it's hard to work out why some things catch one's eye more than others. Case in point being Sailors Grave Brewing.

The Orbost brewery first came to our attention when we spotted a regional newspaper article on Chris and Gab Moore's plans to open a brewery in an historic, rundown butter factory in remote East Gippsland. Given there were plenty of brewing companies launching every month at the time, there was no reason for this to stand out.

Yet, for some reason, it lodged itself in the Crafty brain like an earworm. Perhaps it was because one of our writers is from Gippsland and has a passion for Australian history. That said, as the writer in question pointed out, Gippsland is bloody huge and Orbost is nowhere near where he's from. But, when he put together the story, it turned out his great, great grandfather was the original boss of the butter factory and he knew the last guy to run it before it closed in the 50s.

Then, when we published his story, we realised the Crafty clan would be passing through Orbost for the first time two weeks hence, thus had to opportunity to call in and grab some of the beers that had barely reached Melbourne at the time. The cosmos seemed to be dropping hints of some sort...

Cutting to the chase, call in we did and took a tour of the brewery, at which the Moores have done a great job of bringing part of the old factory back to life and creating something like nothing else you'll stumble across in this part of regional Victoria: its facade bears their uniquely childlike and colourful branding (of which more later) that stands out a mile from the rest of the town's buildings. We left with a case of the first three canned beers (canned on their own line) and an invitation to stay on their family farm on the way back through. This might seem a trivial detail but the stop allowed us to sample the last bottle of a three-year-old homebrewed lambic style beer that hinted at where Chris wants to take Sailors Grave.

So what else do we know about the brewery? We know that the Moores founded successful Darlinghurst restaurant The Commons and ran it for four years before selling up, starting a family and moving back to the coast. We know that they spent some of the intervening years touring the States visiting rural breweries doing cool stuff to get inspiration for their own grand plan. And we know that they have a singular vision that looks set to help them stand out in the ever busier marketplace – and not just because of where they're based.

The beers, for one, are far from common or garden. Their session ale is a gose using locally farmed seaweed, their first limited release was a mandarin Berliner Weisse using fresh fruit from a local farmer that responded to their shout out on Facebook and they followed that with a whisky sour take on the style, as well as a saison featuring ingredients from the family farm. It's a farm that was started by Gab's parents, local abalone farmers, hence their desire to showcase as much of the region's produce in their beers as possible.

Then there's the look and feel of the brand. They wanted something innocent and different from everything else seen on shelves and decals and found a children's book illustrator whose work they loved on Pinterest. He lived in Cornwall so, in lieu of payment, they invited him to come and live with them for a while, thus enjoying a holiday in Australia, getting to know them well and, ultimately, coming up with the brand and packaging for the first 20 beers (yes, they've thought that far ahead).

As for the name Sailors Grave, it references a local reef that's brought down many a ship in the past and is a theme that continues through the beers too.

Within a few months of opening, it was clear it wasn't just the eyes of The Crafty Pint that had been captured, as they'd garnered a fair bit of buzz around Melbourne's beer circles and were started to dip into the Sydney market too. And, the Orbost Foodworks aside, while winning over their locals will take longer, embarking on such an ambitious mission in the first place gives you confidence they'll succeed. After all, when you take a wander through a crumbling old butter factory and where you see smashed windows, cracked walls and graffiti your hosts see a restaurant, barrel room and luxury accommodation, you suspect they have the imagination and determination to win out.

Name
Sailors Grave Brewing
Address

7 Forest Road
Orbost
VIC 3888

Website
Tours

By appointment

Sailors Grave Brewing Regulars

Sailors Grave Sou' East Draught

Tapped May 23rd, 2017
Sailors Grave does have supporters in its local region in the far east of Victoria – even some that drink its beers as well as those that appreciate the arrival of a quirky new business making use of East Gippsland's abundant produce. But there are plenty more for whom the thought of a raspberry grisette or seaweed gose is, as things stand, about as appealing a thought as a punch in the face. All in good time... So the Moores decided to create a beer with their local pubs and clubs in mind: the… Read more
Style
Beer
ABV
4.8%

Sailors Grave Down She Gose

As a statement of intent – and a spot of zeitgeist capturing – announcing your brewery to the world with a gose, the old German sour wheat beer style that's enjoying a global renaissance, is a pretty bold move. Making it a gose that features seaweed among its ingredient list cements the message that this isn't a brewery that's going to play things safe. It's a beer that acts as a microcosm of Sailors Grave: it stands out from the crowd; it's subtle; and it makes a feature of locally sourced produce… Read more
Style
Seaweed Gose
ABV
4.5%

Sailors Grave Southern Right Ale

The darkest drop in Sailors Grave's core range is the Southern Right Ale. It's a beer inspired by German altbiers and the rich malt profiles of some French farmhouse ales, but you could also look at English ESBs for a point of reference. Either way, it's a beer in which malt takes centre stage. A blend of specialty malts deliver flavours and aromas that range from caramel and toffee to biscuit like to distinctly nutty – hints of beer nuts and toasted hazelnuts and pecans too. It's loaded up with… Read more
Style
Altbier
ABV
4.8%

Sailors Grave Drowned Man IPA

If there's one thing the early releases from Sailors Grave tell us, it's that Chris Moore prefers to deal in subtleties. Although, with the Drowned Man – tagged a session IPA – you have the exception that proves the rule. At less than 5 percent ABV, it's certainly in session territory and, with Chris having a palate that appreciates bold bitterness, it packs a punch that takes it into IPA territory. It's an all US hop affair, with these contributing citrus, pine and spicy characters, while, as… Read more
Style
Session IPA
ABV
4.8%

Sailors Grave Brewing Specials

Sailors Grave Blood and Sand & Grapefruit and Yuzu

Tapped October 12th, 2018
On a recent stop to see Gab and Chris at Sailors Grave, they revealed they had one new beer a week coming out at the minute (although hope to slow things a little after the current rush of madness). And these are two of the newbies seeing the light of day for the first time this spring. Blood and Sand is a collaboration with Lark Distillery, albeit one far removed from that announced by Wolf of the Willows around the same time. While the latter features an imperial smoked porter, here the former… Read more
Style
Cocktail Ale & Fruity Farmhouse Ale
ABV
5.7% & 5.4%

Sailors Grave & 3 Ravens Over His Banes

Tapped September 28th, 2018
Considering both breweries have a penchant for creating unusual beers that make full use of foraged and left of centre ingredients, it was surely only a matter of time before Sailors Grave and 3 Ravens brewed a beer together [Don't forget the head brewers' shared passion for long beards – Editor]. Over His Banes takes its name from the Scottish ballad Twa Corbies which was itself based on the English folk ballad, The Three Ravens. The Scottish version is somewhat darker than the original, a fact… Read more
Style
Sahti
ABV
5.9%

Sailors Grave Featherlight Berliner Weisse & Into The Pines Forest Ale

Tapped July 26th, 2018
There are many things that can be said about the Sailors Grave team. One is that they continue to provide an education to us here at Crafty Towers as their oeuvre grows. Here, it's their first light beer, Featherlight, forcing a bit of research. It's a Berliner weisse featuring passionfruit and Coast Everlasting; the former we get, but Coast Everlasting? Turns out it's another plant they've taken a fancy to from their coastal Gippsland home. Given we've not knowingly sniffed, rubbed, eaten or made… Read more
Style
Light Sour Ale & Mushroom Ale
ABV
2.7% & 5.4%

Sailors Grave Wild Strawberries & Sea Fret

Tapped July 17th, 2018
Late last year, the Peach Melba Pavlova Cream Sour became a surprise hit for the team at Sailors Grave, so much so that the beer has been followed by a number of similar releases. Indeed, you could argue that fruity, creamy sours are becoming something of a house style for the East Gippsland operation (well, apart from the farmhouse ales, goses, stouts...). They created another for the 2018 GABS festival and, again, it proved so popular they've kept on brewing it, even if such a beer sounds as unlikely… Read more
Style
Cream Sour & White Ale
ABV
4.7%

Sailors Grave's Dead Will Rise Mexican Lager

Tapped March 21st, 2018
If you've climbed aboard the wagon marked Sailors Grave, you'll know that it's best to approach every new beer wondering what the twist is going to be: "Just what surprises lie in wait for me this time...?" Thus it was we approached Dead Will Rise, a Mexican lager brewed with 150kg of sweet corn from local Gippsland family, the Cotters, and prepared by "old man Joe". Given maize is a regular feature in such lagers and they've put it front and centre (and back and sides) of the… Read more
Style
Hoppy Mexican Lager With Sweet Corn
ABV
4.7%

Sailors Grave Australian Gothic & Summer Farmhouse Ale 2018

Tapped February 5th, 2018
For all that they've cast their net wide when sourcing ingredients for their beers – wild weeds, seaweed, smoked oysters and so on – Sailors Grave's beers have tended to present them with a gentle subtlety. As time passes, however, some of the beers are coming on rather more stridently: still offering complexity but putting their message across more boldly. And that's the case with these two summer releases. Sure, neither farmhouse ale is big on the booze front, but nor do they hold back when… Read more
Style
Farmhouse Ales
ABV
5.4% & 5.2%

Sailors Grave & Blackhearts & Sparrows Orange Cream Summer Ale

Tapped January 18th, 2018
We're not quite sure how the family behind Sailors Grave manages to sleep, given they welcomed a third child into the world late in 2017, make many of the long round trips from their East Gippsland brewery to customers in Melbourne and Sydney themselves and put out so many one-off beers on top of their core range. Must be something in the coastal air they breathe or the fresh abalone their relos farm... Still, neither the Crafty Pint team nor their growing band of fans is complaining. Among those… Read more
Style
Orange & Lactose Summer Ale
ABV
4.6%

Sailors Grave Chinotto Birra

Tapped December 28th, 2017
Is anything off bounds for the Sailors Grave team when it comes to seeking inspiration for new beers? It's only a few weeks since their peach melba/pavlova sour became the talk of Aussie beer circles and already they've switched local desserts for Italian soda... Having snapped up the entire crop of Chinotto oranges from past collaborators Mountain Yuzu, they set about designing a beer that would recall the soft drink popularised by San Pellegrino's dark brown, bittersweet version. To do so, they… Read more
Style
Spiced Amber Ale
ABV
5.6%
Stockists

Other stockists TBC

Sailors Grave Peach Melba Pavlova Cream Sour & Tangerine Dream

Tapped December 13th, 2017
Sailors Grave comes bearing two more beers with an acidic underbelly and fruity additions as 2017 draws to a close. One is as much of a mouthful to ask for as it is to describe: the Peach Melba Pavlova Cream Sour. Taking inspiration from a couple of classic Antipodean summer desserts and combining them with some of brewer Chris' favourite ingredients, lactose and souring bacteria lactobacillus, this kettle sour also features peaches, raspberries and vanilla. Not as fattening as the dishes it looks… Read more
Style
Cream Sour & Citrus Berliner Weisse
ABV
4.8% & 4.4%

Sailors Grave Squid Vs Whale

Tapped November 6th, 2017
Squid Vs Whale is Sailors Grave's biggest beer to date, so what better way for a nautically themed brewery to mark the occasion than name it after a battle between two of the biggest predators on the planet? Admittedly, at 6.7 percent ABV, it's a long way from challenging for the title of Biggest Beer In Australia but it comes packing plenty of firepower. Subtitled "the hop maelstrom" and described as "the closest to a NEIPA we will get", you can imagine what's on the agenda:… Read more
Style
Lactose IPA
ABV
6.7%
Stockists

The Public Brewery

Sailors Grave Spring Farmhouse Ale 2017

Tapped November 6th, 2017
Each season, Sailors Grave puts out a new farmhouse ale showcasing ingredients obtained from other small producers or foraged on their travels. In the case of the 2017 release, it's a bit of column A and a bit of column B. The former comes in the form of High Country bergamot from Mountain Yuzu; the latter is a veritable smorgasbord of wild weeds – nettles, mallow, dandelion, cleavers, milk thistle and borage – collected by co-owner Gab Moore from her garden and the banks of the Snowy River that… Read more
Style
Farmhouse Ale
ABV
5.9%
Stockists

The Public Brewery

Sailors Grave Nuts & Law Of The Tongue

Tapped September 11th, 2017
For the most part, the one-off and seasonal beers coming out of Sailors Grave have been farmhouse style ales. But, as they prepare to welcome another junior brewer into the world, they've sent out a pair of a more straightforward bent; well, as straightforward as you can reasonably hope to expect from them. One is Nuts, a beer with a name and label that recalls the humour of which so many real ale brewers in the UK seem fond. To wit, it's a brown ale brewed with chestnuts and hazelnuts grown at Gourmet… Read more
Style
Nut Brown Ale & Smoked Oyster Stout
ABV
4.8% & 5.8%

Sailors Grave Winter Farmhouse Ale

Tapped August 20th, 2017
It's fair to say Sailors Grave has got off to a pretty unimpeachable start. Not even a year old, the East Gippsland brewery has won admirers for its beers and its artwork while working closely with its home region's producers. However, this could be the moment at which the good work is undone... Sure, the ethos remains the same, with this winter seasonal following in the tradition of its predecessors in combining a farmhouse style ale with foraged ingredients; they've even brought Pinot Noir barrels… Read more
Style
Barrel Fermented Red Saison
ABV
5.6%

Sailors Grave Breakfast Stout

Tapped July 18th, 2017
With hindsight, it was surely only a matter of time before Sailors Grave was going to address the issue of the drunken sailor. The brewery's name and nautical stylings almost demand it and their reimagining of traditional children's book illustrations throughout their branding seems a good fit for bringing an old folk tune to life. So here is Breakfast Stout, complete with drunken sailor lolling on the can and a snippet of the lyrics explaining how such a beer can offer him the much needed "hair… Read more
Style
Breakfast Stout
ABV
5.0%
Stockists

Other stockists TBC

Sailors Grave Brewing Milky Way

Tapped June 5th, 2017
There's still some way to go before East Gippsland brewery Sailors Grave turns one, yet already they've turned out quite the collection of Berliner Weisse beers. There's been a couple of dry-hopped affairs (one with mandarins, one with blueberries), a whisky sour and, now, one starring custard apples from the Glasshouse Mountains, lactose (milk sugar) and vanilla beans and soured with yoghurt. Milky Way was their submission for the GABS 2017 festival beer lineup and is a homage to the Japanese fermented… Read more
Style
Apple & Milk Berliner Weisse
ABV
4.0%

Sailors Grave Autumn Farmhouse Ale

Tapped May 24th, 2017
As part of their pre-opening research, the couple behind Sailors Grave took their young kids on a tour of the States, calling in on many breweries, particularly those in regional areas not dissimilar to their Orbost home in East Gippsland. Among them was Jester King and, while it will likely take years and no little skill to develop cultures and complexities akin to those of the Texan maestros, you can already see influences in the beers released by Chris and Gab Moore, not least in their desire… Read more
Style
Farmhouse Ale
ABV
5.9%
Stockists

And good beer retailers in Victoria, Sydney and WA

Sailors Grave Dry-Hopped Raspberry & Elderflower Grisette

Tapped March 15th, 2017
Serendipity is a fine thing. Such as when a brewer rocks up to drop off some beer samples in cans when you're packing for a music festival to which you're allowed to take cans. When it turns out the beer is not only practical but the sort that could easily slip into the "breakfast beer" category – and what are music festivals like Golden Plains if not the sort of place where a breakfast beer, or at least early lunch beer, is not just acceptable but pretty much de rigeur? – then the… Read more
Style
Raspberry & Elderflower Grisette
ABV
4.3%
Stockists

Other stockists TBC

Sailors Grave Altocumulus Blueberry & First Harvest Grisette

Tapped February 7th, 2017
East Gippsland brewery Sailors Grave continues down its idiosyncratic path with its first two seasonal releases of 2017. Both make use of the natural resources local to the brewery and both offer something for fans of off kilter beers. One is the second in the Altocumulus dry-hopped Berliner Weisse range. Its predecessor, featuring mandarins, made our Best New VIC Beers of 2016 list; here, the mandarins are replaced with blueberries, with Amarillo and Cascade the chosen hops. Clearly, they didn't… Read more
Style
Berliner Weisse & Grisette
ABV
4.0% & 4.3%
Stockists

Foodworks Orbost

The Public Brewery

And select VIC retailers

More stockists...

Sailors Grave Whisky Sour Berliner Weisse

Tapped December 15th, 2016
For their second limited release Berliner Weisse, Sailors Grave took one of the world's classic cocktails as inspiration, adding locally sourced Meyer lemons, candied oranges, Maraschino cherries and rye whisky to the mix. And it's a combination that makes for a quirky beer, even by the brewery's early standards. It pours a pale, hazy straw colour with what appears to be the faintest of pink hues. On the nose, you'll pick up hints of sourness, bitter cherry and rye whisky, while joining the lemony… Read more
Style
Whisky Sour Berliner Weisse
ABV
4.3%

Sailors Grave Grapefruit & Marigold Saison

Tapped December 1st, 2016
They're not just showcasing locally sourced produce from other East Gippsland businesses at Sailors Grave – they've got the family farm to plunder too. That's where they gathered the grapefruits and marigolds that have been added to this saison. The result, perhaps unsurprisingly, is one of the fruitier local takes on the style. Juicy grapefruit mixes with sweet, honey malts, subtle spicy esters, citrus and a touch of banana in the aroma, while this hazy yellow drop comes with a smooth and pretty… Read more
Style
Saison
ABV
6.0%

Sailors Grave Altocumulus Dry-Hopped Mandarin Berliner Weisse

Tapped September 19th, 2016
Sailors Grave's first limited release, and one that launches what will be a series of different Berliner Weisse bearing the Altocumulus name, is a cracker. It started with a shout out on Facebook for 40kg of fresh mandarins, which were delivered to the brewery within hours by a local farming family, and saw the beer make our list of the Best New Victorian Beers of 2016. The fruit gets things off to a flier, with clouds of mandarin rising from the glass, with Amarillo and Cascade hops adding further… Read more
Style
Mandarin Berliner Weisse
ABV
4.0%
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