By Andrew Spence
Keeping it real by keeping it local is proving a recipe for success for Myponga boutique brewery, Smiling Samoyed.
It’s been a busy time for owners husband and wife Simon Dunstone and Kate Henning (pictured in headline image) since their Dark Ale claimed the title of Best Beer in Show at the Royal Adelaide Beer & Cider Awards for the second consecutive year last week.
“I’ve already had quite a few phone calls from wholesalers wanting to set up accounts for the dark ale,” Simon says.
“Last year when we won there wasn’t a lot but this year going back-to-back we’ve proven it wasn’t a fluke,” he adds.
The couple moved to Myponga and opened Smiling Samoyed on the same premises as previous breweries in November 2012. They have gradually increased production to 50,000 litres a year, which is sold at the brewery and almost exclusively through independent bottle shops in South Australia.
They expect to make about 100,000 litres in the next year and although, according to Kate, they have the potential to increase capacity to 240,000 litres a year, there are no immediate plans to do so.
“We have taken opportunities when they have arisen – we have sent some beer into Melbourne and to Germany just when people have come to us but we don’t want to build the business in a way so we can’t supply our local market… our local market’s always our priority,” she says.
The couple – Kate a former lawyer and Simon a software engineer – began looking for opportunities to start a craft brewery after their home brewing hobby began to take on “a life of its own”.
“This one (Myponga) came up at a good time and we still pinch ourselves,” Kate says.
The bar inside the brewery, which offers tastings, meals and take away beer from Friday to Sunday and public holidays, provides about half of the brewery’s turnover.
It is licensed for 100 people and has also hosted a range of private functions including weddings.
“If we didn’t have this then one of us would probably still be working. We’re growing the wholesale side but being open on the weekends and having people come in has been really important,” Simon says.
The brewery is named after Simon and Kate’s three Samoyed dogs, who have become much-loved mascots at the brewery.
“You can grab a bus and visit four or five Fleurieu breweries in a day now and there’s a couple of others who are looking to start up in the next couple of years as well,” Simon says.
“We get along really well with a lot of the local businesses. Our spent grain goes to Fleurieu Milk, which is a successful company in Myponga, and the cows love it. We brewed last Monday and Geoff the farmer came down to get it while it was still hot. The cows know when it is coming because they chase his ute.”