Dog's breakfast. Loose cannon. Spit the dummy. Fresh as a daisy.
We love old phrases and slang because of the particular way they allow language to paint vivid pictures. Whether you're travelling overseas or dropping a throwaway line in front of someone who's never heard it before, when old slang is picked up by new ears it's often met by a moment of elated surprise.
And it's that wide smile Sam Wills hopes to see on the face of those who try the beers from his fledgling operation: Old Slang Brewing. The first release is Fresh As A Daisy, a pale ale hopped with Cascade, Centennial and Amarillo that reminded us of a classic American-style pale: a slightly sweet malt base overlaid with tropical and orange elements.
Having moved to to the small town of Chewton in Central Victoria close to two years ago, Sam's focus has been on satisfying local beer drinkers, with Old Slang's first customer his own local, the Red Hill Hotel.
"I'm try not to push it too much, I don't like to be all, 'You've got to try this!'," Sam says. "But the pub certainly likes that it I've brewed it."
As fresh cans of Fresh As A Daisy slowly start to find their way into bottleshops – and with an official launch party scheduled for the end of this month – we caught up with Sam to find out more for our ongoing Who Brews...? series.
Old Slang Brewing
Who are you?
My name is Sam. I’m a paediatric physiotherapist who has worked in the western suburbs of Melbourne for the past 15 years. I’ve been homebrewing for the past eight years and am a member of the Westgate Brewers Homebrew Club.
My family and I moved to a little town called Chewton, just outside Castlemaine, two years ago.
Where do you brew?
Our inaugural batch of Pale Ale was brewed under contract at Brookes Beer in Bendigo and canned in mid-September.
Why do you brew?
I brew because I love creating things that people enjoy and I love drinking my own beer. I make my own sourdough, kimchi and kombucha and roast my own coffee. Basically, I should have been in hospitality from the start.
Was there a beer or a moment that set you on the path to becoming a brewer?
I remember not being happy with all the standard beers that were on offer and so always looked for something different. The beer that made me see there could be a lot more flavour in beer was Gage Roads Sleeping Giant IPA that used to have an elephant on the label: that was such a cool label and is a really tasty beer.
About a year ago I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. It really made me evaluate things and I decided that I really wanted to give brewing a red hot go given that it’s a real passion.
Where can people find your beers?
The beers are currently stocked in bottleshops around Castlemaine but I’m hoping to get them into the western suburbs of Melbourne soon, where I have a few contacts from when I lived there.
Our spiritual home is the Red Hill Hotel in Chewton; it’s my local and I work there a day a week to keep my eye in. There There Bar in Geelong is also one of our first stockists.
You can keep an eye on our social media for new venues and bottleshops.
What’s the inspiration behind the brewery name?
I love old Australian slang terms and thought that naming beers after these old idioms and phrases would be cool. It’s fun to hear old slang that you haven’t heard for ages and it often reminds you of people in your life such as grandparents and their quirky sayings.
Also, it's fun for people to discover old terms that they didn’t know about, if they didn’t hear them back in the day, or if they’re new arrivals to Australia. It’s also fun to recall them and write them down; hours of entertainment while enjoying a beer on a Sunday afternoon.
What beers are in your fridge right now?
I’ve got a keg of porter that I’m trying to nail down the recipe for. There's also a couple of KAIJU! Krush and a Pirate Life Pale Ale that my neighbour gave me when I took them 12 eggs from our chooks.
Which beers are found in your fridge most frequently?
I often have Mornington Peninsula Pale Ale in the fridge; that’s a favourite. As is Bridge Road Robust Porter or anything from Brookes.
Where do you hope your brewery will be ten years from now?
I’d love to have a taproom/brewery in Castlemaine. Shedshaker are already in town and I reckon another local brewery might increase the appeal of Castlemaine as a beer destination.