The Local Rag - Snowy river mail

Sailors Grave Brewing is a business ready to reinvigorate the landscape of Orbost by bringing one of its dead artefacts, the butter factory, back to life.

To do so, they have gone through hell, and now, high water, as they work to finish on schedule amid widespread flooding with water equally as high as the flood in 1950 when the Snowy River Mail called in a fortnight ago.

Regardless, the work goes on, with no rest for the weary duo of Chris and Gabbie Moore as they continue to assemble their brewery, piece by piece.

The recent addition of vats have started that process, turning what had been an enormous project into a building with enormous potential.

“There are so many different approaches to everything,” Chris remarked. “Everything from hygiene to fermentation.

“Like with barrel aging, there’s a lot of people … breweries in general, are scared of them contaminating their mainstream beers.

“You go to Lost Abbey, and all their barrel room is mixed. They’re not worried about it. They concentrate instead on their lab.

“You can come at it any way, and that was a big lesson, you just have to think everything through, whatever decision you make.”

The self-imposed deadline for opening is fast approaching, with the beginning of August acting as the line in the sand, but after years of planning and months of reconstruction Chris and Gabbie can finally see the finish line.

This journey started long ago for them, with a simple question after selling their restaurant and bar in Sydney.

The question, “what’s next,” from Chris to Gabbie, was answered in short.

“Why not start a brewery? We love beer,” she said, and along they went.

The previous endeavour made this jump seem logical, as their establishment in Sydney was known as a craft beer venue. A place they served beers off the beaten track, but a ‘tapography’ that is far less impressive to them looking back.

“During that time … we stocked Murray’s and Lord Nelson and a few others,” Chris said.

“If you looked at that place now you would go, ‘oh, that’s not really a craft beer venue’.

“But then, it was seen as that.

“It is amazing how much has changed in, sort of, seven years since then.”

This trip has taken them around the world, spending three months circling the United States in search of inspiration, and possibly some guidance, but what had begun with that simple answer has now come full circle. They now look to put what they learned to practice.

Beer is more than a tool to render inebriation, and for those involved enough to create it from scratch the ulterior motives are clear.

For Sailors Grave’s Chris and Gabbie, the ultimate endgame is obvious in that regard. They seek to create something profound, something that will bring people and their community together in a number of ways.

“Orbost is an old ‘timber town’,” Chris said.

“That’s obviously died off, because logging is no longer seen as a sustainable industry.

“The council plans for the area are more to do with retirement, as a retirement kind of village.

“We feel that towns like this will be revitalised if young people want to stay, and if there’s jobs and interesting things for people to come and see.

“We are not trying to be flag bearers, but we just hope that we are a part of that change.”

Now, on the cusp of the fun part of their job, brewing, they continue to keep things in perspective, but never shy away from what they would love for the future.

“We are right next to the Snowy River, we’ve got a great park right there … I would love to see, one day, that this is like a real hub in the town, but that is a long way down the track,” Gabbie said.

“We need to do our job first and make a great brewery, and hopefully all that will follow.”

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