Green Gully Brewing

Despite the fact there are far more breweries and beer brands operating in Australia than at any point in history, it’s surprisingly rare to be surprised. Sure, there’s a cornucopia of beer styles available in hundreds of bars, pubs and bottlos but, for the most part, brewers are focusing most of their attention in a few areas: hops galore, session sours, and silliness.

Green Gully Brewing, however, slot comfortably into the “pleasant surprise” category. One of the smallest operations in the country – and at time of writing renovating a venue or cellar door of their own – they’re ploughing a furrow unlike almost all of their peers. Although, instead of “they” we should probably being using “he” in the previous sentence.

That’s because Green Gully is very much a one man show, and that one man is Luke Smith: founder, owner and head brewer of the operation tucked away on farmland on Phillip Island. And, while he only released his first beers commercially a few years ago, the former skate punk brings the best part of 50 years of brewing experience to the table.

Luke first started brewing with his dad in the 70s before embarking on his own beer journey, moving his brewing operation underneath his backyard skate ramp in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs, often surrounded by mates listening to punk rock.

Embracing the counterculture of the late 80s and early 90s, Luke fronted the band S.I.C, playing gigs around Melbourne, releasing several demos as well as a vinyl EP through Au Go Go Records. While they disbanded long before Green Gully started taking shape, the band members stayed in touch and even got back together for a gig at Collingwood’s Bendigo Hotel in mid-2021 to celebrate the life of a former member.

Back to the beer, and it was on international travels with those same mates with whom he’d wile away his days at the skate ramp that Luke’s horizons were expanded. Traversing the West Coast of America, they ended up spending the majority of their time at what was then a new venue concept: the brewpub. Later, when he spent two years working in New Caledonia, he stumbled upon a little brewery called Les 3 Brasseurs, fell for their French and Belgian-influenced beers, and decided to add another string to his homebrewing skillset.

It was a few decades, however, before Luke decided to take the knowledge he’d gathered since his first assistant brewer’s role with his dad and turn it into Green Gully Brewing, a side project which quickly started to consume his life as much as a full-time job.

Relocating to Phillip Island to take advantage of the lifestyle and create more space for his ever-expanding hobby, Luke says it often feels like he’s working eight days a week between his full-time job in construction and brewing, packaging and distributing his beers.

And, while the story to date is far from your typical craft beer tale, it’s arguably with those beers – released under the "Island Beers" banner – that Green Gully stands apart from the crowd. Luke’s less interested in hops than malt and yeast (even his Red IPA is a farmhouse RIPA), and less interested in the latest fads than creating his own spin on traditional European styles: blonde ales, farmhouse ales, fruited beers featuring berries harvested just up the road.

They’re fashioned on a setup fabricated over a decade and a half from a mishmash of secondhand gear from the pharmaceutical and dairy industries, as well as gear picked up from other breweries. It might have been a long time in construction, yet remains one of Australia’s smallest: a five-hec system with a gas-fired kettle, electric mash tun, three stainless unitank fermenters and some stainless wine tanks and oak barrels.

As for the name, that was inspired by the nanobrewery’s surrounds: Luke works on his beers gazing upon an abundance of native wildlife on the border of Phillip Island Nature Parks.

Ultimately, his dream is to open a cellar door on Phillip Island too, although at time of publication Luke’s focus was on building his direct-to-consumer sales via his online store, Island Beer, an approach ideally suited to a small operation focusing on niche styles eager to connect with the passionate and just as niche consumers seeking out the sort of beers in which he specialises.

James Smith

Name
Green Gully Brewing
Address

79 Coghlan Road
Cowes
VIC 3922

Phone
0429 832 304

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Green Gully Brewing Regulars

Green Gully Island Beer Natural Farm Ale

Sometimes it's nice to have your thoughts confirmed – even if you didn't think them in exactly that manner. Confused? Then let me explain... When making notes on Green Gully's core range saison, the word honey cropped up twice: once when commenting on the comment of the malt character – "softly sweet honey biscuit malts don’t get much of a look in up against the drying, spicy yeast / hop combo"; the other time when describing the beer's appearance: "hazy golden honey appearance."… Read more
Style
Saison du Miel
ABV
5.2%

Green Gully Island Beer Surf Session Ale

The Surf Session Ale could be about as good an example of Green Gully's ethos as you'll find in one of their beers. It uses a farmhouse yeast – in this case a kveik strain – as well as homegrown hops – Hallertau and Cluster. And it's designed as a teaser to lure people into the world of farmhouse styles; down the rabbit hole, as brewery founder Luke Smith puts it. The result is the sort of beer you might expect to enjoy during a session in a Belgian or Northern French bar of café, reminiscent… Read more
Style
Farmhouse Session Ale
ABV
4.4%

Green Gully Island Beer Seeing Red IPA

The clearest hint of Green Gully founder Luke Smith's previous career with Melbourne punk band S.I.C. can be found in – or should that be on – Seeing Red IPA. The cans of the brewery's biggest core range beer – one designed to have a seasonal big brother – come with labels featuring the iconic photo of a Minor Threat gig at CBGBs in the 80s. As for the liquid inside, it's ruddy looking but with a deep crimson highlight if held to the light, not to mention what seems to be a Green Gully trademark:… Read more
Style
Farmhouse Red IPA
ABV
6.4%

Green Gully Brewing Specials

Green Gully Island Beer Australian Table Saison

Published Yesterday
It's little secret that, for the most part, the Aussie beer world is one heck of a collaborative place. And this beer is a good example of that. Farmhouse ale lover Luke Smith of Green Gully Brewing was approached by Al Tippett, the founder of AC Hops – a small operation growing hops nearby in Dean we wrote about in April 2021 – at last year's Ballarat Beer Festival. Al mentioned Dollar Bill had used his hops in the past, Luke asked for his product list, spotted he had Red Earth – a varietal… Read more
Style
Table Saison
ABV
5.2%

Green Gully Island Beer Dark Daze

Dark Daze is another Green Gully beer that flits around traditional styles of Northern Europe, combining elements of an English dark ale with farmhouse characteristics drawn from a strain of Norwegian kveik yeast. These are embellished by the introduction of Brettanomyces when it's packaged, before being given six months to develop in cans prior to release. Pouring, as with many of Luke's beers, with a massive head, aromas are of the cola meets sarsaparilla ilk, while there's an acidity that initially… Read more
Style
Dark Farmhouse Ale
ABV
5.3%

Green Gully Island Beer Terri Grisette

The naming of beers can come about in all sorts of ways. In the case of Terri, it happened when Luke Smith was brewing late in the day. It was American brewing pioneer Teri Fahrendorf's birthday and she'd just announced her retirement; given he'd read everything of hers he could find when honing his homebrewing skills years earlier, he decided to pay her a little tribute. At less than 4 percent ABV, this grisette is a small beer when it comes to the booze content, yet it leaps at your olfactory system… Read more
Style
Grisette
ABV
3.9%