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home-brewing
Photo: James Russell Photography

The Great Hops Brewing Co makes unique beers, all brewed by the owner, Dr Sam Martin of Nambucca Dental Surgery in NSW.

“When I first started out as a dentist in Sydney and my wife was studying medicine, I was home-brewing beer in our Bondi apartment. The secret to a drinkable home brew is to get the temperatures correct and not let oxygen anywhere near the beer once it’s fermented. I had three fridges with a keg in each. That’s how it all started.

“In 2012, I purchased a block of land in Armidale and in 2013 I erected a large shed that looks a little like an aircraft hangar. We purchased a US-made brewhouse in 2016 and began work rewelding it. Eventually, I had a fairly big microbrewery brewhouse that was solidly built and hadn’t cost a lot of money.

“Great Hops Brewing Co started operation and the first beer was actually pretty good. We’ve modified it a little since then, but it’s still one of the recipes we use today. We make about a dozen different types of beer—IPAs, wheat beers, dark ales, lagers—and we’re constantly refining recipes. Our West Coast IPA is my favourite. It’s made from older variants of hops and has a unique piney flavour.

“When I have an idea for a new style of beer, I’ll get in contact with some other brewer friends and they’ll give me a few pointers. Generally, you just dive in and give it a go.

“Our brewery is also a hospitality venue with a taproom and a food menu of burgers and finger food. I used to work weekends pulling beers, but we have staff to do that now. Our customers are very forthcoming when we try out one of our new beers. They let you know if they like it—and if they don’t. 

“My favourite part of owning a brewery is trying new hops and listening to podcasts about the process. Brewing is a dynamic activity and people are always experimenting and changing things up. My least favourite part of the job is cleaning tanks. It’s essential but it takes a lot of work and there’s always one more tank to clean.

“Great Hops Brewing Co has online sales, as do most breweries, and they’re starting to pick up. Over the next 12 months, I want to focus on our local market and our local support. I really enjoy owning and running a destination venue in Armidale. It’s family-friendly, has a great atmosphere, and country towns benefit from the tourism that smaller breweries bring. People really enjoy tasting unique local beers on their travels.”

Learn more about Great Hops Brewing Co at greathops.com.au 

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