You may have heard the term from a mate and wondered what the go was, or maybe you’re completely confused. Whatever the case, let’s break down exactly what gypsy brewing is, its advantages and drawbacks, and why it’s changing the face of non-alcoholic beers in Australia.

What is a gypsy brewer? 

Gyspy brewing, or contract brewing, simply refers to the nomadic nature of its brewers. For smaller operations that can’t afford to set up their own premises, gypsy brewing allows for other brewmasters to use the equipment of larger, more established organisations to do smaller runs and limited batches of non-alcoholic beers wherever they can.

Gyspy brewing sits somewhere between home brewing and a full scale brewery operation. Describing gypsy brewing as the ‘next step up’ from home brewing however, is maybe underselling the size of the undertaking.

“It's a massive step, producing say 50L of beer from home to scaling up to 2,000L then to 5,000L,” explains Trent Sheiles, one of the brains behind Mash Gang and a gypsy brewing extraordinaire. “And there's financial risk, you lose your first batch and that's a few K down the drain. There's a lot of R&D to be done before presenting your beers to the world.” 

Why go for gypsing brewing

The obvious advantages to gypsy brewing are that it allows for talented brewers with less capital to get stuck in and create amazing beverages. With smaller runs, brewers can afford to experiment, get more bold, and try new things (which is great news for our tastebuds).

There are also more opportunities for collaboration between makers. “Knowledge sharing is also key for many breweries especially in the non-alcoholic space, the range available now is so much better than a few years ago and a lot of this comes down to knowledge sharing. We are always pushing the boundaries on our beers and refining our processes to make our beers the best we can,” says Sheiles. In a field as young and developing as non-alcoholic beer, the best non-alcoholic beers today are being produced by some ingenious gypsy brewing know-how.

What are the downsides to gypsy brewing?

For all its excellent advantages, gypsy brewing costs are definitely steeper than traditional breweries. As Trent Sheiles of Mash Gang knows, the freedom afforded by gypsy brewing often comes at the expense of more predictable schedules and budgets. “It's not cheap to contract brew and it is hard to get a slot within an already busy production schedule the brewery may have.”

For a consumer, the main downside to gypsy brewing is that a cold one you fall in love with could disappear as fast as it sprang up. Non-alcoholic beers produced this way are brewed in small batches and often won’t last long as it depends on the preferences of the brewers and their popularity. Long story short? If you find one you like, buy it up while you can.

Gypsy brewed non-alcoholic beers you should try

When it comes to the state of gypsy brewing in Australia, the scene is admittedly still pretty small. What the movement lacks in sheer scale is it makes up for it in big juicy flavours, intriguing profiles and a reputation for quality. 

Some of the best non-alcoholic beers right now are coming out of tiny gypsy brewing operations who are producing high-quality brews that still manage to push the envelope in terms of taste. From Australia and abroad, here are some of the best non-alcoholic beers made with contract brewing.

Mash Gang Chug IPA

The brand

Originally from the UK, Mash Gang have brought their nomadic brewing style to Aussie shores. Their non alc offerings specialise in revolutionary non-alcoholic beer that tastes the part, every time. 

The taste

Mash Gang has done it again with this IPA that has a medium body and a fluffy, inviting mouthfeel. Fruitiness, bitterness and crisp refreshment - gang’s all here in a can.

Worth noting

Mash Gang say they owe their reputation for producing nothing but incredibly drinkable bangers to the knowledge sharing gypsy brewing encourages. After sipping on this non-alcoholic beer, we tend to agree. 

Sobah Finger Lime Cerveza 

The brand

Sobah is a proudly First Nations owned and operated gypsy brewing company, championing Indigenous flavours.

The taste

This refreshing drop from Aussie brewers Sobah combines the easy drinking of a Mexican cerveza with the uniquely Aussie taste of finger lime. For our money, this is one of the best non-alcoholic beers Australia has produced to date. 

Worth noting

This light, zesty, tangy drop is definitely best served ice cold.

Sobah Davidson Plum Gluten Free Ale 

The taste

Davidson Plum is a native stone fruit that gives this brew a lovely pale pink hue and an earthy aroma with just a touch of sour bite and sweetness. The colour is so inviting, we recommend pouring into a chilled beer glass so you can enjoy this one with all your senses. 

Worth noting

If alcohol and gluten have been holding you back from enjoying a frothie on the weekend: rejoice. This gluten and alcohol free ale promises all your favourite things about beer without the extra nasties, and mate does it deliver.

Sobah/Good TLC Tropical Lager Coral'ation

The taste

Crisp, dry hopped and truly tropical, it’s the kind of non-alcoholic beer you’ll want to crack around a beach bonfire, on your coastal getaway, or even just on a hot day after a long shift. 

Worth noting

This is a collaboration – sorry, ‘coral’ation’ between Sobah and The Good Beer Co. Funds raised from its sale go towards the Coral Sea Foundation, helping to protect Australia’s coral reefs which are under threat. 

Sobah Pepperberry IPA 

The taste

If bush tucker met gypsy brewing and had a non-alcoholic child, the result would be this Pepperberry India Pale Ale. Native Pepperberries give this non-alcoholic beer a kick the makers describe as “hot and spicy”. 

Worth noting

If bright and juicy non-alcoholic beers leave you a little underwhelmed and you yearn for something more bitter, this IPA is the choice for you. 

Fancy a non-alcoholic gypsy beer?

Thanks to some innovative and passionate gypsy brewers, we’re getting more and more spoiled for choice when it comes to non-alcoholic beer. If you’d like to give gypsy beers a crack, feel free to support these small, ingenious brewers by finding your new non-alcoholic brew at Craftzero today.
Irene Falcone
Tagged: beer