‘Haaaaaave you met’, shines a spotlight on the brewery owners, the brewers, venue managers, the beer pourers, the sales representatives, bottle shop workers and the beer drinkers of the SA craft beer industry. We will discover their inner secrets, find out what gets them out of bed in the morning and we might even unravel some exclusive news along the way. The hard questions have been asked, so you don’t have to. Enjoy!
Say hello to Frank Samson, head brewer and owner of Adelaide Hills brewery Prancing Pony. Most recognisable for his impressive hair upper lip, which might just be the most photographed moustache in the industry. His German heritage is sprayed across their core range with a few old recipes from Frank’s home brew days. Have a look at what he thinks of the craft beer industry.
Q1. Who are you and how are you involved in the SA beer industry?
Head brewer, director and founding member of Prancing Pony Brewery
Q2. What are some of the great moments you have had whilst being involved in this industry?
Being at beer events and other brewers helping me out with CO2, beer lines or small changes when we run out. The camaraderie in this industry is just like no other. Seeing our regulars come back every week since we opened our doors and the many new friendships we formed is another one. And of course, winning the title for world’s best beer is a great moment too, but it’s a rather fleeting one; friendships formed with our customers and friends may last forever.
Q3. Predicting the future, what trends are coming in the near future for beer in Australia?
The mainstream brewers dominating the market will continue to acquire more craft brands, either by buying established, real craft breweries or putting out their own faux craft beer. Pale Ale and single IPA’s will continue to be strong in craft for a long time. Sessionable and balanced beers will prevail. Though at the same time we will see trends come and go like extreme sours or extreme IBU’s. Like there was a race to the highest IBU possible, there seems a race going on to the lowest Ph. It will go away. I think craft lagers and pilsners will be a fast-growing segment, a space worth watching. There is something enduring about a malt backbone in a beer without having it overpowered by too much hop or extreme sourness.
Q4. What is your favourite beer style and how did this come to be?
The style I drink most often myself is still a nice well balanced Pale Ale. Not too bitter, not too complex, not too high in alcohol. My first introduction to craft was in the late 80’s when working in California when I tasted my first Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. It’s just a nice, pleasant style of beer.
Q5. Where is one place that you would love to see good beer served?
Well, in any pub, restaurant and any licensed street corner of course. Beer is such a universal drink that’s worth sharing with anyone, it builds conversation, even communities. The one place good beer is still not served is at football stadiums and so on. Sadly, the only option in these places is a ladle full from the ubiquitous mono puddle of so called Supper Dry’s. Good beer needs to get into these venues.
Q6. Do you have any exciting news you can share with me? Maybe about future plans, collaborations or anything new?
We just launched a new single IPA, standing at 6.6% ABV and 60IBU, having 25% of rye in the malt bill and a blend of resinous hops. It’s drier that our India Red Ale which won the world champion beer. This new beer is called “Pagan’s Empire” and fills a gap in our portfolio and so far, has taken off really well. We also received a $250,000 state government grant towards a new bottling line. We need to increase our bottling throughput to meet demand. And yes, we’ll stay in bottles.
Q7. What gets you out of bed in the morning?
The prospect to work in a brewery business. Yes, liking beer helps.
Q8. Do you dream about beer? If so, what is your most memorable dream about beer?
No, never. Quite funnily.
Q9. What is your favourite season for beer drinking? Why?
All year. There is a beer for any season. I drink beer every day. Coming winter, I look forward to brewing stouts and dark beers and enjoy them, similar in summer with session ales and lagers.
Q10. If you could choose any profession, what would it be? Why?
I’ve been running a brewery for only 4 years. Before that, I did all sorts of gigs in my previous profession (engineering and science). So, I have seen a few things and done a few ‘this and that’. I am quite happy where I am now, as a head brewer and operations manager of a brewery. If I would not brew, I would definitely make a tangible product, preferably something to drink or to eat, fine food perhaps. There is something satisfying creating flavours out of basic ingredients.
It is quite obvious that Frank doesn’t get caught up in trends as he believes they are just a passing thought in the beer drinkers mind. It seems Prancing Pony will concentrate on well balanced, clean beers for now and into the future. Thanks Frank for your insight. I have now officially run out of contributors for this segment, which means I will be sending bulk annoying emails off to some people in the industry to hurry them along. Cheers.