South Australia has long been known for its amazing wines. And for good reason. We may be bias but we think ours are the best in the world. Hands down! But now, there is another beverage putting SA on the world map, as our craft beer brewers show everyone what they have got. Well what they have got is good. Really good!
Craft breweries have continued to pop up around Adelaide and SA over time and are really making their mark with some ground breaking ideas and interesting techniques that really push the boundaries of traditional beer brewing. And we love it! In fact, we love it so much that we thought we would throw together a guide full of some of the best breweries that our State has to offer…
We hit up craft beer expert, Sam to see who he thought should be on the list. But first things first, why Sam? Well, first of all he loves all things craft beer and considers himself a craft beer aficionado. So much so that he has been hand picked by the team over at Peregrine Travel Centre to lead a group of other craft beer lovers on the most epic sounding USA Craft Beer Tour. Yep, you read correctly. A trip around the US experiencing all of their craft beer goodness including a visit to the Fresh Hops Craft Beer Festival in Portland, an annual craft beer festival. See, we told you he was an expert! And we want in on that tour!!!
But back to the beer… So what exactly defines ‘craft beer?’ There is much deliberation over this topic but general consensus is that the craft brewer is independent and small batch. Others say that they must also use traditional methods, but here in South Australia we’ve been known to often break the boundaries of tradition as mentioned above. To us it means passion. A driven love for the products created and a striving to constantly improve their beers.
Now pouring on tap, here are our picks for the cracking brews made right here in SA…
Barossa Valley Brewing (Lyndoch)
The fact that Barossa Valley Brewing has the highest success rate of any SA brewery in 2014 (with 13 medals and Trophies under their belt from only 18 entries in 3 major beer awards) speaks volumes. As with many craft beer producers, BVB is all about love and experimenting, but doing so to the highest quality. BVB are making waves to ensure that the Barossa region isn’t just recognised on a global scale for outstanding wines, but for craft beer too. They even have a restaurant at their brewery that pairs their award winning beers with delicious food created from local produce.
Glam pick: Bee Sting Honey Blonde
Big Shed Brewing (Royal Park)
One of the latest showstoppers to burst on to the SA craft beer scene. Glam went along to the launch of Big Shed Brewing and were delighted by the upfront honest approach to beer that the BSBC guys are taking. Open to the public Friday and Saturday, guests can see that there is no ‘behind the scenes’ even the brewing tanks are right behind the bar. Big Shed has been host to many great SA events of late, showcasing the beauty of South Australian food and drink and there are plenty more on the horizon.
Glam pick: F Yeah American Pale Ale
Brew Boys (Regency Park)
These guys are diamonds in the rough. Brewers with a love for beer, not salesmen, they create incredible product with little glitz and glamour. As they put it ‘Our beers are naturally beautiful, not airbrushed into blemish-free shape.’ You’ll find their products may not shelf as long as many other beers, but this is due to the freshness and high quality of their products. They have a Cellar Door tasting room at Croydon Park (open Wednesday- Sunday) where you can try all they have to offer and meet the brewers themselves.
Glam Pick: Seeing Double Scottish Heavy (beware at 8.0% this bad boy really packs a punch)
Clare Valley Brewing Company (Clare Valley)
Craig and Ben created this brilliant brewery after sinking most of the commercial beers available under the sun and thinking, I bet we can do this better. And we think they’ve done a damned good job of doing so. They’re utilising the best the Clare valley has to offer by creating their beer with pure water from their own spring adjacent to the brewery and grow barley at the site of the former Port Henry Arms Hotel. The Hotel itself is now a ruin but rumour has it that it was the watering hole for murderers, teamsters, shearers, drovers and locals. We think that the CVBC have created a true beer for misfits, from the purest origins.
Glam pick: Monkey’s Uncle Red Ale OR Miss Molly Malone Grape Cider (not a beer but definitely worth a try!)
Goodiesons Brewery (McLaren Vale)
Run from the brewers HOME in McLaren Vale. You can’t get much more personal than that. If you’re looking for people who eat (well I guess we mean drink), sleep and breath beer you can’t go past the Goodiesons. They spent 20 years in Europe “developing an appreciation” for Austrian and German beer, but upon returning to Australia decided to really dedicate themselves to this passion. Jeff completed his Honours in Malting and Brewing and after several years working for one of Australia’s biggest alcohol companies he and his wife decided their real calling was to brew their own products. These years of love and dedication are reflected in their beers, and have consequently won them several awards. You can head to their brewing shed/cellar door at their home 7 days a week to discuss their beers at length or just enjoy a tasting. It’s always advised to call and book beforehand as their space is limit.
Glam pick: Wheat Beer
Gulf Brewery (Hahndorf)
This microbrewery (that means it’s teeny tiny) is located in Hahndorf and a perfect addition to a day out in the hills. They have exceptionally well priced beer paddles available to try at their cellar door; we’re talking $9 or $13 and each comes with a full bottle of beer or cider in addition. They also have a wonderful tasting platter available which is made up of local produce to compliment their beers. They have 10 different varieties to choose from and change their beer list from summer to winter to suit the seasons.
Glam pick: Fish Tale Pilsner
Lady Burra Brewhouse (Adelaide CBD)
Say hello to Adelaide’s only CBD micro brewery. Hello *waves*. We have loved this place for giving us a haven amongst the city bustle. The perfect spot to sit back and enjoy some tasty fare with an even tastier beverage in hand. And now that includes something brewed by the inner city restaurant/beer garden/brewery themselves. Cheers to Lady Burra indeed. What a babe.
Glam pick: Golden Ale
Lobethal Bierhaus (Lobethal)
This little spot is a great all rounder. You can take the family there on a nice day out and not be concerned that Grandma and little Debbie will be bored while Dad enjoys a tour of the brewery. They have a great restaurant attached that has full view of the brewery, and 12 available housemade beers on tap. Since entering the market in 2008 these guys now have 31 Australian International Beer Awards medals to their name.
Glam pick: Chocolate Oatmeal Stout
Mismatch Brewing (Royal Park)
It’s all in the name really. This mismatched bunch of people from various aspects of the alcohol industry have come together with their depths of knowledge to create a beer company that they feel covers everything that a beer should be. They are currently using vacant space in other breweries to create their product, a concept that we feel is innovative in the industry. Their portfolio is tiny so far (boasting only two beers) but they are definitely one to watch on the market.
Glam pick: Session Ale
Meechi Brewing Company (Langhorne Creek)
This is the story of two wine loving mates who also happened to love a cleansing ale. When they met and studied winemaking together, the buddies and their wives (who also happen to love beer) set out on a long and delicate research mission to develop the perfect beer. A.K.A lots of BBQs and long lunches. After much tasting and perfecting, Meechi Brewing Company was born out of the depths of a man cave (or the back shed). Fun fact: Meechi was the first beer label in the Langhorne Creek region. Because according to the Meechi crew, every wine region needs a beer label. We agree!
Glam pick: Pale Ale batch #0003
Pikes Beer (Clare Valley)
Here fishy, fishy, fishy… That iconic label has become a staple at BBQs around the State. And this family run business actually began in 1886. Wowsers, that’s a long time ago. Originally starting with beers, stouts, soft drinks, tonics and cordials, the beer went off the radar until it was brought back in 1996. We are so glad it made a come back!
Glam pick: Oakbank Beer
Arrrr me hearties. These guys are a perfect example of young people following their passion, with a pride for our state that speaks volumes. Unlike traditional pirates (with the pillaging and such) these guys are instead taking great ideas from all sorts of aspects of the food, beverage and even science industries to create a product that can be loved by many. They’re also all about the comeback of the beer can. Their website boasts a host of reasons why beer should by drunk from a can, and you know what? Some of it sounds a lot like logic. We love this team, their outlook and, of course, their beer. Check out their website in the link above for a good laugh.
Glam pick: Throwback IPA
Port Dock Brewery Hotel (Port Adelaide)
A hotel brewing their own beer… There is something special about that. This hotel has its own working brewery with historic cellars and sees 5 very different beers created to enjoy with the quality food served up alongside it.
Glam pick: Port Dock Ale (PDA)
Prancing Pony Brewery (Mt Barker)
Prancing Pony are a bold name in SA craft beer. Most commercial venues stock this product and if you spot it on the shelf we strongly recommend you give it a shot. They use a traditional German concept of ‘fire brewing’ to add more flavour to the same basic beer ingredients as the rest. They are combating the mass produced beer that is so often bland and overly fizzy. Their brew shed is an excellent SA spot to visit if you’re looking for something different on your day out, with tastings, tours and delicious food they have created an atmosphere that makes anyone who visits passionate about beer too.
Glam pick: Prancing Pony Pale Ale
Smiling Samoyed Brewery (Myponga)
The owners of this little spot snapped up a wonderful opportunity when they nestled there in 2013. The views are stunning as is their range of beers. With four main beers available and seasonal and single batch beers always in rotation there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Their cellar door has a pizza oven so you can enjoy pizza topped with premium local produce to accompany your beer. You can view the brewery from the bar which is open Friday-Sunday, and usually the brewery is operation at these times too. So you can get up close and personal with all the stages of the product you’re sipping. You’ll also get to meet the breweries namesakes, three beautiful Samoyed’s, Mia Cooper and Popette, who have a gorgeous temperament and love all guests.
Glam pick: Smiling Samoyed Kolsch
Steam Exchange Brewery (Goolwa)
The Steam Exchange Brewery is located, as the name hints, within the Old Railways Goods Shed in Goolwa. This historic venue has had many changes over the years but was actually created in 1879. The Steam Exchange Brewery team opened up shop there in 2005. Just like the Smiling Samoyed the Steam Exchange Brewery also has a Brewdog named Gidget, beware though despite the owners best efforts Gidget has developed quite the taste for stout, and will steal anyone’s that is left unattended. They once again have four core beers but are involved with many festivals and often create specific beers for events. We’ve heard rumour of a double chocolate vanilla bourbon porter, but we’re yet to get our hands on the infamous brew.
Glam pick: Steam Exchange India Pale Ale
Swell Brewing Co (Aldinga)
This is “The Boardriders Beer” and really what could be more Aussie than surfing and beer? This creation from brothers Dan and Daniel Wright (no that isn’t a typo, they have the same name) came about through Dan’s many lonely bus rides while travelling through America surfing. Dan still uses his back yard shed brewing system for new product trials to this day, before perfecting them and setting them to production. We love the passion and spirit behind this company and can’t wait to see what the backyard brewing system produces next.
Glam pick: The Swell Brewing Pilsner Lager
Vale Brewing (McLaren Vale)
Formerly known as the McLaren Vale Beer Company, and creators of the iconic Vale Ale. Many mistakenly believe the company and all beers under the umbrella are classified as Vale Ale, when in fact Vale Ale itself is just one of four incredible products from this brewery. As their products are available so commercially now some nay-sayers have whispered that it is no longer craft beer. But just because of the incredible, deserved success of their beer doesn’t change the creation process or the love and attention that is put into making Vale Brewing’s products. The cellar door for Vale Brewing is located Red Poles Restaurant in McLaren Vale. Here you can enjoy beautiful views, tasting paddles and a great beer garden. There is often live music and always a great selection of local food.
Glam pick: Vale Ale
Woolshed Brewery (Renmark)
This zero waste brewery began it’s brewing in 2009 and has continually grown ever since. Their brwery is in an idyllic setting in Renmark but having said that, doesn’t have a restaurant. They encourage guests to bring a picnic along or even use their BBQ facilities on site to enjoy with their beer samples, paddles, schooners and pints. You can tour the brewery for just $10 and gain a greater appreciation for their wonderful products.
Glam pick: Judas The Dark, dark ale with roast wattleseed
Wheaty Brewing Corps (Thebarton)
It only seemed right that after pouring everyone else’s beers for years that the guys at the Wheatsheaf Hotel start brewing their own. And so in 2014 we were introduced to the Wheaty Brewing Corps. After installing a Premier Stainless 600L Brewhouse with three single batch fermentors, the deliciousness began. We love the variety that comes out of this brewhouse and the very cool colabs between local producers and other breweries that have continued to be poured at this iconic South Aussie suburban hotel.
Glam pick: Honey Baltic Porter (a collaboration with Mornington Peninsula Brewery)