Australians have a reputation for loving their beer, sterotyped as Crocodile dundee type blokes with redfaces, swigging fosters and playing knife games. But there is more to our beer culture than that, we have a chat with Vedad the brains behind Melbourne's latest micro brewery poping up in some of the best watering holes around town.

PG:How did you go from architecture to brewing?

VEDAD (V): Architecture is a very interesting profession. It’s highly addictive; you continuously seek to perfect the ideas, processes and outcomes of what you do. You can design a house a million ways and each time you going to feel like you could have done it better. It’s a life long process you commit to. Have you seen Jiro Dreams of Sushi? He only uses three ingredients, makes the same sushi for decades but still he tries to perfect it. It’s insane, but inspiring. The problem with architecture is it takes a couple of years to see the finished product, and throughout that period you think of how you could’ve done it better. I’m Gen Y, I’m too impatient to wait that long. I needed something else to experiment with and that’s how Sample was born. I love beer and I attribute some of my favourite ideas to beer, including dates gone well but at the time I could never find a beer I loved, inside and out. I was curious as to why we attribute design to everything but beer. Beer could be fine, right? This is how I started to experiment with a holistic approach to taste, quality and design. There are also a lot of parallels between architecture and beer. Ingredients being assembled at various stages to create a composition such as a building or a brew. You can stage the process, quantity, and colour to alter the outcome in both cases so a lot of my processes have come from my background. What was the beginning like? Fucking hard. A big learning curve. I’ve sat in offices for the past decade so being a salesman was out of my league. I was working full time and running the whole thing in-between and afterhours. I never worked in hospitality before. The second venue I approached the guy asked me for LUC, which basically means Landing Unit Cost. I had no idea what it meant and I was mute and embarrassed. Once I walked into a restaurant at 8pm not even thinking that it might be dinnertime. The barman looked at me and asked if I have ever done sales before. Obviously not.


PG:  What is the flavour profile for Batch 1? 

V: The 1st batch is a fine beer that showcases it’s potential but doesn’t scare anyone away. The aim was to make it a supplement with food and conversation, hence it’s not too hoppy or too heavy, and it’s rather well balanced in its aroma, taste and palette. We used three types of American hops - sweet to spicy and balanced it all with a nice malty drive.

PG: Where do you brew?

V: I like to keep the brewery a secret. ;0)

PG: We love the design and packaging, can you tell us a little bit about the process and inspiration for the design?

V: Sample is a reoccurring word in architecture. On any given day, I’d come across the word so many times, from choosing fonts in Photoshop, to ordering sample materials for designs, to approving prototype samples. I once ordered material samples for some designs at work and one of the prototypes was rejected to what architects call ‘unsatisfactory’. I thought it was great with that little imperfection. Sample means the prototype, the first set, but it doesn’t necessarily mean perfect. This rejected sample stuck. I liked the name. If anyone creates a perfect thing I think you have fulfilled your calling. I love imperfection, gives you a reason to wake up next day and do it again just better and that kind of applies to everything. Minimal, simple. We couldn’t stand the mythological and place-related stories associated with beer anymore. We wanted a clean, design driven look, something very Melbourne, very now. From there we started looking at pharmaceutical and medicinal bottles, packaging for sample holders of blood. We also chose a paper stock that is used predominantly on wine and whiskeys, because we wanted to create a fine beer, a beer that sits confidently next to wine and whiskey.

PG: Is there a going to be a full range of beers offered or will you be producing one batch for release at a time?

V: We work one batch at a time. It took us two years to finalise our recipe for the first batch. It won’t take that long again, but we take our time to get it right. The 2nd batch is brewing at the moment, when it comes out is yet undecided.

PG: You have some excellent stockists in Melbourne, are you looking at stocking across Australia?

V: Melbourne has been extremely kind to Sample. Thanks to some incredible people especially Thom Grogan of Captains of Industry, Campbell Burton from Builders Arms Moon Underwater, Tyson from Mess Hall and Huw & Caleb from Meatball & Wine Bar as they were first to stock Sample. They really understood what we are trying to do and what Sample is about. Our plan has always been to start in Melbourne as Sample is born here, but the concept isn’t limited to geography. It’s a beer that’s created for a certain type of beer drinker, not a place, which in essence means yes, we want to stock around Australia but not everywhere. We want people who understand our product and what we are about. This is also the reason why we refused a few venues in Melbourne. It’s not about volume for us, we are really trying to build something more and we are working hard at it. We have actually just received our first order from Sydney, a bar called Earl’s Juke Joint. To be honest I have no idea how he came across Sample but they love it, which is great. At the moment, it is the second city we aim to focus on, slowly but vigilantly.

PG: Will you be making any custom brews for these establishments?

V: Who told you that? We certainly plan to. It will become Sample’s ritual. We plan on doing small runs of experimental brews which only selected venues will get hold off to offer to their regulars and special guests. Amongst all our other ideas, it’s in the pipeline.

VOX POP - getting to know you

1. Ultimate place to enjoy an afternoon beer? It all comes down to the right company; once you’re with them, anywhere is best.

2. Fat chips or crisps with your beer? Charcuterie is best but fat chips, triple fried, work wonders. :0)

3. Best part of being based in Collingwood? It’s the epicentre of Melbourne. When you take a walk from Gertrude St through Smith St you experience Melbourne. It’s the unknown encounters. How many times was I walking down Smith or Gertrude St on my way home and next thing you know it’s 5am and you are at some place and you keep saying ‘I really should get going?’ but you stay, taken in by the unexpected. And where else in the world do you see upper, middle, lower class and homeless co-exist in such an environment? It’s peaceful until someone calls you a c*^t ‘cause you didn’t give him any change, because all the change that you had you gave to another guy a minute ago.

4. Best part of working for yourself? You can flip a middle finger whenever you feel like it.

5. The worst part of working for yourself? If you flip the middle finger too many times it might come back and poke you in the eye. I’m saying responsibility and accountability basically.

06 December 2013
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