Meet the Maker from Vale Brewing

Since the beginning, Sippify has been proud to work with one of the finest breweries in Australia. Vale Brewing, located in the heart of McLaren Vale, South Australia has been brewing award winning beers since 2008. We met with Jayson Smart, the senior brewer behind some of these fantastic beers and find out what motivates and inspires him when it comes to crafting a successful beer.

Jayson the brewer with arms crossed

So Jayson, what inspired you to become a brewer and how did you get started in the industry?

From an early age I remember being fascinated by how beer is made, its not like wine which is juice already, grapes already have yeast and it pretty much can make itself.

The processes for making beer on the other hand is mainly from turning barley into beer, which is a cereal grain, the most perfect cereal grain containing everything you need to make beer.

I have been brewing for 30 years and started professionally in 2008 then came to Vale Brewing in 2018.

 beer getting poured into a glass for testing

Can you walk us through the process of brewing one of your signature beers from start to finish?

 Firstly, we start by milling malted barley and adding hot water for the mashing process.

This process utilizes the enzymes already contained in the malt to convert the complex carbohydrates such as starch to fermentable sugar.

We then separate out the liquid leaving behind what is left of the grain and boil this with hops to introduce bitterness for balance and to bring forth hop flavours and aromas.

Following that it is cooled down for fermentation and then yeast is added.

This process takes around 6 hours which is followed by 7 to 14 days fermentation time.

During fermentation and after fermentation more hops is added to the fermenter to give a stronger hops aroma.

The beer is then cooled down further and the yeast drops out leaving a bright beer liquid ready for carbonation.

We do not filter the beer because it is not kind to the beer and quality is most important thing when it comes to the brewing process.

The whole process from start to finish where the beer is packed in a can or keg takes around 14-20 days. We take our time with the process to assure quality. Brewing high quality beer is more important to us than a quick turnaround time.

 brewers on a platform in a brewing factory

What is your philosophy when it comes to creating new beer recipes?

It has to have meaning and be the product of a craft. It has to have a link to agriculture and locality with a story to tell.

It needs to have many elements that are original to us and something that makes our beer unique.

From there, we start with a flavour and work backwards from that.

We then build towards that flavour with all the raw materials such as different malts, hops, and yeast. Also, water chemistry also plays an important role.

In the case of a strange and different beer flavour, a certain amount of research and development is needed before we are ready to produce a final product.

We never call our beer experimental. Experimental would mean the product itself is an experiment.

All the experimenting is done in the research and development phase, then what works is used and what doesn’t is taken away, resulting in a genuine beer product.

We don’t experiment on our customers, we produce fine quality finished products.


What are some of the challenges you face as a brewer, and how do you overcome them?

Collaborating with sales and marketing could be challenging at times.

A real craft product doesn’t fit the mold of traditional sales and marketing strategies which can be derived from a flavour that is on trend and has worked for other brewers.

As craftspeople we think beyond that scope and are always trying to push beyond the boundaries to create a real brand legacy and carve out our own unique product and therefor segment and place in the market.


What do you think is the most exciting trend or development in the craft beer industry right now?

Craft beer is no longer a small unknown thing with only a hand full of offerings to those in the know.

Craft beer is now exploding and everywhere.

Something I never really imagined would happen to this degree.

Craft beer is the product of a Craftsmen and like artists, we are not followers. Therefore, trends don’t drive inspiration for us.

Creating something new and different has to be driven by something more substantial than a consumer trend. Otherwise, it is just another flavour that everybody else is doing.

To stand out in a big crowd we strive to be market leaders. A great example would be our Hazy Tropic beer. Even though hazy beers is currently on-trend we have thoughtfully looked into something that makes it unique, giving it its own story to tell.


What is your favorite beer that you have brewed so far?

That’s a hard one for me. If I had to pick one it would be like being put on the spot to choose your favourite child.

They all have their own unique qualities and offer something different that makes it hard to compare.

New releases are always exciting and Aus IPA, Hazy Tropic, NZ hazy and California Common are all very close to my heart, along with a release from a few years ago, Foxhat Heavy handed.

But standards that are always in my fridge are Vale Mid Coast, Tropic, Ale and Lager.

Our Hobo Range is also excellent. It’s a full flavoured great beer on the slightly lower alcohol level which makes for a great session.

One beer which fits a unique segment and flavour profile was the Vale Taphouse Super Session at only 0.5 standard drinks per can. It was a very exciting beer to design and brew and it came up exceptionally well.

The Fox Hat beers are all at the top of their game and always the go-to when I want to step it up to something a little deeper and complex.


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