If you love craft beer, make a day (or more) of it and quench your thirst at 10 of the best South Australian microbreweries.
BY TRAVELLER INSPIRE
1. Prancing Pony brewery, Adelaide Hills
One of the success stories of the local craft brewing scene, Prancing Pony stands out from the crowd by using fire brewing – a technique once popular across Europe. And it's paying dividends already. It's Indian Red Ale was named Supreme Champion Beer at the International Beer Challenge
awards in London.
Brewer Frank Samson uses a gas-fired system which he says "sets us apart from everyone else". The brewery also serves hearty country-style meals and runs guided tours most days.
Prancing Pony Brewery, 42 Mt Barker Road, Totness, South Australia. Phone: 08 8398 3881;
The brew shed opens daily 10am to 6pm.
2. Smiling Samoyed Brewery, Myponga
This idiosyncratic brewery (named after a breed of dog) enjoys a cult following on the Fleurieu Peninsula for its small batch brews and excellent wood fired pizzas. The tasting room is packed with all kinds of memorabilia, beer bottles and farm equipment – even the tasting paddles are served on old LPs.
“We generally brew in a traditional style, but our American Pale Ales and IPAs are more contemporary,” says brewery owners Simon Dunstone and Kate. "Then there are the single batch beers, like our chilli beer. We like to keep things interesting.” Although Myponga requires a small excursion from McLaren Vale, it’s worth the effort.
Smiling Samoyed Brewery, 48 Main South Road, Myponga, South Australia. Ph: 08 8558 6166;
Open Friday to Sunday, 11am to 6pm and most public holidays.
Pushing the craft beer envelope at Smiling Samoyed Brewery, Myponga, on the Fleurieu Peninsula
3. Goodieson Brewery, McLaren Vale
Inspired by their earlier travels in Germany and Austria Jeff and Mary Goodieson have created a small, traditional brewery in the heart of McLaren Vale. The family-run brewery also releases a number of seasonal beers throughout the year, including a full-bodied stout in Autumn and a popular spiced Christmas Ale. “I started my own brewery with the aim of making authentic European beers but using the best malt and hops from Australia,” says Jeff. “At the same time I like to challenge myself, which is why we make so many seasonal ales.
Goodieson Brewery, 194 Sand Road, McLaren Vale, South Australia. Ph: 0409 676 542;
Open daily, 11am to 5.30pm, for tastings and sales.
4. The Steam Exchange Brewery, Goolwa
Located on the historic Goolwa waterfront, The Steam Exchange is one of South Australia’s longest running craft breweries with an old style brew house, which includes an open ferment system. Bottling is also done on site. Brewer Gareth Andrews prides himself on making traditional English ales, but also some experimental brews to show younger brewers he can still run rings around them.
The company’s first batch of malt whisky is now ageing in barrels, ready for release in 2017. “We’ve also won a gold medal with a beer called Truffles – a double chocolate vanilla porter," says Gareth. The brewery is a glorious place to taste beers thanks to its waterfront location.
The Steam Exchange, 1 Cutting Road, Goolwa, South Australia. Ph: 08 8555 3406;
Open Wednesday to Sunday, 10am to 5pm.
5. Lobethal Bierhaus, Adelaide Hills
Alistair Turnbull established the brewery in 2007 and today his beers can be found in many Adelaide pubs. The brewery has eight regular beers on tap, plus seasonal and one-off creations.
“My preference is to focus on beer styles I personally like,” says Alistair. “While I do love to taste beers that truly test the boundaries for me the best beers are ones you can enjoy by the pint with friends, accompanied with good food and plenty of entertaining banter.” The restaurant is extremely busy on weekends, so arrive early to secure your table.
Lobethal Bierhaus, 3A Main St, Lobethal South Australia. Ph: 08 8389 5570;
Open 12-noon to 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays, 12-noon to 6pm on Sundays.
6. Vale Brewing, McLaren Vale
Based in Willunga, Vale Brewing (formerly McLaren Vale Beer Company) is one of South Australia’s most successful boutique brewers, with a strong following in the Eastern States.
“We take established styles of beer and put our own twist on them,” says Jeff Wright, head brewer. “My ambition is to make beer which is approachable, flavoursome and hopefully you can have a few of.” Vale Brewing is also behind the brand Fox Hat Brewing which is dedicated to making “unique and untraditional beers” aimed at the more adventurous beer drinker.
Vale Brewing, Jay Drive, Willunga, South Australia. Phone: 08 7071 3520;
Tastings are available at Red Poles, 190 McMurtrie Road, McLaren Vale. A tasting paddle of four beers costs $4.
7. Clare Valley Brewing Company
The rising star of the South Australian craft brewing scene, Clare Valley Brewing is the creation of Craig Harnett and Ben Jeanneret who wanted to make a range of good-tasting beers which reflected the Clare’s rich agricultural heritage.
The brewery’s idiosyncratic tasting room, Hop & Vine in Auburn, stocks the full Clare Valley Brewing range, plus some interesting limited-release table wines. “Because we’re a small brewer we can adapt quickly and come up with new ideas and respond to public demand for something novel,” says Phillip Douglas, head brewer. “Our beers are interesting without being whacky."
Hop & Vine, 20 Main North Road, Auburn, South Australia. Phone: 0448 079 406;
The tasting room is open daily 10am to 5pm.
8. Big Shed, Adelaide
After work drinks at Big Shed is now something of an institution among local hopheads. For owners Craig Basford and Jason Harris this is the best part of the week – the chance to share some of their favourite brews and tuck into hearty beer-friendly grub.
Apart from housing the company’s 10 hectolitre brewing kit, the big shed also contains a tasting bar with six taps. These guys brew some masterful in-your-face beers including FrankenBROWN, an American Brown Ale and F-Yeah, an American Pale Ale. Beers are sold in handsome 640ml long neck bottles.
The boys also pump out one-off creations such as apple and cherry cider and chocolate chili porter.
Big Shed Brewing Concern, 13/2 Brandwood Street, Royal Park, South Australia. Ph: 0477 550 016;
Open Monday to Thursday, 10am-5pm, Fridays, 2am-9pm and Saturday, 12pm-6pm.
9. Meechi Brewing, Langhorne Creek
Langhorne Creek is a compact wine region between the Adelaide Hills and McLaren Vale that now boasts its own microbrewery. Meechi Brewing was launched in 2014 by local winemakers Ben Potts and Matt Schmidt – with their wives Lucy and Kate - with just a single produce, a pale ale. Each batch is tiny - just 2000-litres. The foursome would eventually like to establish their own craft brewery in Langhorne Creek,
“With our pale ale we wanted to create something which was different, full bodied, has heaps of flavour but still very drinkable,” says Ben Potts, the brewer. It's available to taste, alongside some boutique wines, at The Winehouse in the centre of town, which also serves great country fare and hosts live music most weekends.
The Winehouse, 1509 Langhorne Creek Road, Langhorne Creek, South Australia. Ph: 08 8537 3029;
The cellar door is open daily.
10. Pirate Life, Adelaide
Launched at the very beginning of 2015, Pirate Life is one of the most popular new microbreweries in South Australia. Part of the reason for its success is the decision by its two young founders Jack Cameron and Red Proudfoot chose to sell everything they brew in aluminum cans. “People seem to like holding a can in their hands,” says Jack. Pirate Life operates a 10,000 litre-a-week brewing kit in the suburbs and while the brewery is not open to the public its beers are available at 21 pubs and 30 bottle shops across the state.
“Canned craft beer is the fastest growing trend in the United States,” says Jack. “We didn’t even think about doing it any other way.”
Pirate Life Brewing, 89 South Road, Hindmarsh, South Australia. Ph: 08 8340 1447. Pirate Life Brewing is open to the public for tastings and purchases.