Sailors Grave and Bruce Pascoe have teamed up to make a Dark Emu beer

Published on 14 October 2020

Sailors Grave is known for its frequent and fantastic collaborations, but the Orbost brewery might’ve outdone itself with its latest outing: a Dark Emu beer made with Indigenous grains.

“It’s a dark lager brewed with the addition of roasted mamadyang ngalluk and burru ngalluk grass seed from the Far East harvested by Yuin people on the banks of the Wallagaraugh River,” says Sailors Grave co-owner Gab Moore. The grains were roasted in the ovens of a local bakery, making for a result Moore says is “amber-coloured, clean, roasty and tangy”.

Sailors’ other recent team-ups include Drunken Sailor, a breakfast stout with Genovese coffee, Original Sin, a snakebite made with fellow Gippslanders Gurney Cidery, a Garden State pale ale with the fellas from O My restaurant in Beaconsfield, and a sea urchin and lemon myrtle gose made with regular collaborators Noel and Trish Butler of Indigenous education centre Nura Gunyu.

The new beer is named for Dark Emu, Bruce Pascoe’s ground-breaking book on Aboriginal agriculture, but the connection with the Mallacoota author and the Yuin community goes beyond that and the ingredients. The art on the can is by Yuin man Terry Hayes, who also works with Pascoe’s Indigenous social enterprise food company Black Duck Foods and harvested the grain. A percentage of the proceeds from the sale of the beer, meanwhile, will go to support the studies of local Aboriginal students at Orbost, Mallacoota and Eden.

The first batch will hit the shelves of independent liquor stores, restaurants and bars in early November (Moore says Blackhearts & Sparrows is a good place to start looking if you’re in Melbourne). It’s a beer Sailors intend to keep brewing, but the grain is scarce, so the batches will be small and seasonal. In other words: this is one you’re going to want to jump on.

Find out more about Sailors Grave at

By Pat Nourse