FEATURE | Lone Gum Farmhouse

THE STORY

Ryan Bickley and his fledgling brewery, Lone Gum Farmhouse, is a sour beer focused producer currently operating on 40 acres of farmland in Pages Flat, just south of Willunga. Brewing for seven years and feeding barrels with sour beer for five has seen Ryan’s process adapt and change but not in any one particular direction. He is Inspired by beers such as Rodenbach Grand Cru (the holy grail of wild ferment beers) and consistently encouraged by the evolving and maturing craft beer scene in Australia

Ryan on inspiration: “there are plenty of producers to be inspired by in the world, not all of them necessarily brewers. Anyone pushing local, innovative and sustainable is always a good start. I embrace anyone willing to experiment, try new ideas, educate or adapt.”

“there are plenty of producers to be inspired by in the world, not all of them necessarily brewers. Anyone pushing local, innovative and sustainable is always a good start. I embrace anyone willing to experiment, try new ideas, educate or adapt.”

Traditional sour beers have been produced in Belgium since the early 1800’s. While modern breweries focus on clean, fully sanitised and sealed environments to minimise the risk of an infection causing off flavours in the resultant beer, traditional sour breweries welcome these characteristics. Sometimes even fermenting in vessels with open tops and encouraging bacteria from the outside world to assist the process. This is an art, as you can possibly foresee there are many factors which could go wrong with this process and a careful blending of the beers once created is performed to perfect each release. Different bacteria produce their own distinct results and varying levels of final acidity. The addition of fruits such as peaches can affect the final flavour and acidity even further.

Producing this style of beer gives the brewery the scope to incorporate many different elements of the environment around them to affect that final flavour profile. There are no real limitations on how and at which stage certain ingredients are introduced. A combination of these elements unite to form beers which really do contain a slice of where they were developed.


Ryan’s current location in Pages Flat has been planted out with a few acres of grapes, plums, apricots, peaches, nectarines, cherries, raspberries, blueberries and feijoas which sounds like the perfect arrangement for some sour project experimentation. However, after some pushback from local council and a long struggle to get the appropriate licencing, a move to somewhere more industrial is looking like the only way forward.

“I’ve always planned on turning the farm into a local produce hub”

“Pushback against my planned location is going to force me to have to brew somewhere industrial, which I was always against as a regional farm based brewer. As a result, my model is going to have to incorporate some more ‘normal’ style beers, potentially not under the Farmhouse label.”

Whilst possibly music to the ears of those who haven’t quite fallen in love with the sour style to this point, it wasn’t exactly how Ryan saw things going from an early stage.

When asked about the possibility of a retail/ bar space at the revised location – “I haven’t given up on the farm based brewery, it just probably won’t exist where I had originally planned.”

“I haven’t given up on the farm based brewery, it just probably won’t exist where I had originally planned.”

THE BEERS

Ryan currently has three vintages of spontaneous ferment beer (leaving fermentation to the environment rather than adding processed yeast) in barrels that have been waiting patiently to blend for his Methode Traditionnelle range. In addition to this there are also a couple of versions of his table beer, (lower alcohol, slightly tart), conditioning at the moment which could be ready to go once permission is given to be able to sell to the public. On the wine side, there is also a three year old, light skin contact Vermentino which has just gone into bottle after spending plenty of time wild fermenting on oak.

The barrels being utilised are all repurposed wine barrels, quite a few of which are from their friends at Camwell Wines with whom they have a number of collaborations. After sampling a few delicious wines from Camwell lately, including their beastly oaked rose, these collaborations sound like something that we’d love to try.

“I want to break down the barriers between different flavours and showcase unique beverages. Ones that don’t fit into any specific guidelines, instead of the very generic and easy to define ones of years past. Just because something is produced the same as it has always been, doesn’t mean it is necessarily the best or only way. There are a whole host of flavours to be found through alternative fermentation, scientific method, experimentation, new [or old] techniques, or the addition of any number of ingredients. I’m open to any experimentation or collaboration that results in something new or different. It is more important to me to provide high quality products than push out new or substandard offerings for the sake variety. Instead I do a lot of rigorous small scale testing to ensure that everything I do is the best I think it can be.”

All things going well, we could see some products for sale from Lone Gum Farmhouse in the next two to three months.

Graild is dedicated to showcasing the best in drinks from all styles. Recommendations and suggested options with a desire to drink different.

COMING SOON

UPCOMING EVENTS

october, 2020

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