Craft beer: A guide to South Australia’s best

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Curated content via The Advertiser  EVERYBODY, it seems, is talking about craft beer. And South Australia is no slouch in the boom industry, which is now worth $7 billion to the national economy. But what is it ... why is it different — and where can you get some? Craft beer traditionally is small batch brewing with attention to artisan detail but above all, it’s about engaging aromas and flavours. And many of SA’s brewers have been awarded for their prized bottles at the annual Australian International Beer Awards. So sound the starter’s gun. Here’s a guide to our breweries — and there are now enough of them to warrant individual tour regions, just like our proud wine sectors. Big Shed owners Craig Basford and Jason Harris (behind the bar) with customers at their Royal Park brewery. Picture Campbell Brodie METRO BIG SHED BREWING CONCERN Craig Basford and Jason Harris made such good beer as Hills homebrewers, they couldn’t keep their mates from the door. Now they’ve got the makings of an empire in cahoots with co-brewer and artist Rob “Runt” Hunt. Lauded beer, ripper label graphics and a humming social media presence make this a trajectory that’ll be impossible to halt. And on Saturday nights you might find Cold Chisel’s Dave Blight blowing his harmonica there as the Frankenbrown flows. 13/2 Brandwood Street, Royal Park, 0466550016, bigshedbrewing.com.au BIRBECK’S Jared Birbeck won top trophies as a homebrewer, then stepped to the next level. His brand is made under contract at the Big Shed Brewing Concern so there’s no tasting room as such. But craft-minded bottle shops sell his stubbies. For this time of year, take a look at the Railwayman, a tight, quenching authentic English porter which has a beaut grip to its dry roasted malt finish. 6 Trinity way, Oakden, 7070 0921, birbecks.com.au  BREWBOYS Simon Sellick was a baker. That’s why he’s real good at making beer which, if we are to be honest, is just wet bread. He’s also a thinker from outside the box so his beers, co-founded with master brewer and SA beer industry great Stephen Nelsen, have a real edge. From the luscious Maiden Ale to the mind-altering Seeing Double Scottish wee heavy, this is high-end craftsmanship. And you can try them in brewhouse nights of rock’n’roll and kranskis. 151 Regency Road, Croydon Park, 8346 5200, brewboys.com.au COOPERS They’ve got a three-hole golf course and a beer museum on site. They prepare for Christmas by warehousing millions of litres. And the bloke at the brewery’s helm, Tim Cooper, is an actual doctor. No wonder the state adheres so closely to the famous Coopers prescriptions which started as get-well tinctures for Mrs Cooper over a hundred years ago. And, in August, they’ll sign on to make famous volume crafted Brooklyn Brewery beers, too. Now that’s respect. 461 Regency Road, Regency Park, 8440 180, coopers.com.au MISMATCH As a kid his name possibly gave him the best chance of becoming a “brew nomad” — Ewan Brewerton. His company doesn’t brew a ton but what it does brew is — quite simply — delicious. There’s no brewery as such. The beer is contracted to some of the best brewers in the state: the ethos being to use SA brewers’ schedules to keep the state’s craft scene vibrant. Two beers is all they need to grab your attention: Session Ale and Archie’s Red Ale. Both good — buy now. P.O. Box 37 Wayville, 5034, Wayville, 1800 794 797, mismatchbrewing.com.au PIRATE LIFE Through the dust on the Nullarbor plains via frostbitten Scotland, Jack Cameron and Red Proudfoot’s emergence on the SA beer scene was a boon. Their no-rules approach and their insistence on cans is an exciting point of difference. You can’t drink a beer at the brewery yet but beer lovers have embraced their all-out ethos so watch this space. We have already named their Pale Ale as the best in SA. But their light booze Throwback IPA is clever, too. 89 South Road, Hindmarsh, 8340 1447, piratelife.com.au  SA BREWING Derided by beer snobs, West End Draught (alongside Coopers’ ales) helped build SA. It’s the biggest seller. If you’re all crafted out, it’ll recalibrate your thirst. Some say it’s better in cans than bottles. Lion Nathan has bombed the place with $70 million of reno work. Children are in a froth of wonderment at Christmas as lights electrify the Torrens. And its charity aquifer water has its own clever power ballad by SA band The Peccadillos — Sweet Cool Beer Water. And wise drinking elders say Southwark Old Stout is craft beer. 107 Port Rd, Thebarton, 8354 8888, westenddraught.com.au NORTH BAROSSA VALLEY BREWING The vibe is local and relaxed, the food hearty and with a twist and the beer vibrant and more-ish. And you can have a beer on the deck while overlooking the brewhouse. In the shadow of massive gums, this restaurant HQ serves beers that win national awards under stewardship of founder Denham D’Silva. Go for the Organic Ale, Double IPA or honey-buzzed Bee Sting. 2A Murray Street, Tanunda, 8563 0696, bvbeer.com.au BAROSSA BREWING COMPANY From his 1860s wheat store, next to the Barossa’s original telephone exchange and in stumbling distance to the Greenock Creek Tavern, Darryl Trinne has been known to roll kegs of his dark ale to the pub. An engineer by trade, he built his own brewery and his beers are made with an artisan’s hand. Back in 2006, he told us he was hand-bottling “six cartons every 47 minutes”. The What Store, Mill Street, Greenock, 8563 4041, barossabrewingcompany.com CLARE VALLEY BREWING COMPANY All that riesling and shiraz was very nice but Ben Jeanneret and Craig Harnett found there were times when all they really wanted was a beer. So the two university mates decided to brew their own, setting up their kit near the Jeanneret cellar door in the Skilly Hills, and drawing water from a nearby spring. Their King Kong stout is built for icy Clare nights, but you can taste the full range at their Hop & Vine tasting room in Auburn. 20 Main North Road, Auburn, 0448 079 406, clarevalleybrewing.com.au KNAPPSTEIN Fruit is the fortune of the Clare Valley. And fruit is to the fore in this brilliant cleanser with a New Zealand accent. Made by a girl who forged her national reputation on the back of a ripper cider (Little Creatures Pipsqueak), Melissa Fettke inherited the mantle of Knappstein’s awarded Enterprise Brewery Reserve Lager. Its zing comes from Nelson Sauvin hops and there should never be a summer where the chance to linger over a six pack is let go. 2 Pioneer Avenue, Clare, 8841 2100, knappstein.com.au  PIKES In 1984 the Pikes scraped all their money together and bought famous land at Polish Hill River, near Clare, and carved vine rows with a front end loader. The whole while brothers Andrew and Neil also had their lineage in mind — and that old Oakbank Beer. Now when you pull up at the cellar door, there’s a sparkling new brewery, even T-shirts. Their pilsener, sparkling ale, stout and new Tonic Ale, based on the family’s 1903 recipe, are all stunners. Polish Hill Road, Polish Hill River, 8843 4370, pikesbeercompany.com.au SOUTH GOODIESON Jeff Goodieson mans the bar at his brewery overlooking McLaren Vale’s famous Wirra Wirra vine rows. There’s a tyre swing outside for the kids and the brewery labrador has a snooze at your feet while you sip at a table in the winter sun. Jeff can talk your leg off about the pros and cons of hops v malt but one taste of his beers and you know you’ve got the real deal. We’ve never seen anyone leave the place without a sixpack. His stout is the seasonal hero right now. Sand Road, McLaren Vale, 0409676542, goodiesonbrewery.com.au  MEECHI You might not have read it here first but it truly does take a lot of beer to make good wine. So it goes that winemakers on a break will ponder on brown bottles, with designs on making what Hagar drinks. And winemakers just happen to make some of the best beer out there. A direct relative of the Bremerton wines squad, Meechi Pale Ale is the kind of beer you have to look for. What you’ll find is referred to, in the parlance of beer modernity, as a session ale. Oh, yes. Murray Road, Langhorne Creek, meechibrewing.com.au SMILING SAMOYED

A gem in the south, Smiling Samoyed attracts as many people for its wood oven pizzas as it does for its craft beer. Named after the owners’ three friendly Samoyed dogs now synonymous with the property, there is plenty of space inside and out to kick back and enjoy the good life. Keep an eye out for events like the upcoming beer and burrito night.

48 Main S Road, Myponga, 8558 6166, www.facebook.com/MypongaBrewery STEAM EXCHANGE The setting is to die for, especially if the Cockle Train is blowing steam and the Wooden Boat Festival happens to have weighed anchor at the front door. With beers named for the environs and a pot-still the latest addition, this brewery is one proud southerner. One of its sometimes beers, Truffles Porter, spends time on bourbon-tinged wood. It was deemed so good yet so boundary breaking, the Hilton Hotel once listed it alongside sticky wines. 1 Cutting Rd, Goolwa, 8555 3406, steamexchange.com.au VALE BREWING There’s a brewery in Bamberg called Schlenkerler which takes its name from an expression that translates to “walking, not straight”. So pick now, your particular gait, before it’s too late to discover how much you love Vale IPA (India Pale Ale). Jeff Wright and his team also make a lager, a dark, and a pale, and ciders. But now comes the limited edition Fox Hat beers — Phat Mongrel oatmeal stout and the highly bittered Metric IPA. A growing reputation. PO Box 270 McLaren Vale, McLaren Vale, 7071 3520, mvbeer.com SWELL BREWING COMPANY As if surfers aren’t distracted enough. They’ll be at work thinking about waves. They’ll be on a wave thinking about a beer. They’ll be making beer and thinking about cider. Hang-5, you say. What’s that? The Swell gang has just launched a pretty good trick with their Two Pink Ladies apple cider. But if you prefer drinks with the sedative abilities of hops, don’t think twice about their seductive Golden Ale. One taste, and you’ll be glad they come in 500mL bottles. PO Box 146, McLaren Vale, 0448 288822, swellbeer.com.au HILLS GULF BREWERY Peter Fitzsimons reckons the weather’s getting a bit fresh in Hahndorf. Lucky, then, that he’s ready to ply the tourist trade with his hearty winter paddles. There’s 550mL in total across a flight of 10 tastings. From the She’s Apples Cider to the Smoke Stack Rauchbier, it’s a mini tour of the gamut of possibilities in beer flavours. The last one should taste a little like dusky bacon. The cellar door is open Friday to Monday. 1/13-15 Mount Barker Road, Hahndorf, 8388 1221, gulfbrewery.com.au LOBETHAL BIERHAUS There’s a modern synchronicity at play in this idyllic Hills town. Hop-growing and beer in Lobethal dates back to 1851, when a Hills beer would’ve been a rare sight in Adelaide — and hauling kegs up hill and down dale used original horsepower. Alistair Turnbull and wife Rose have quality framing their food and beer in the town’s former wool mill. Their end of the main street absolutely hums on weekends and, right now, Chocolate Oatmeal stout is king. 34 Main Street, Lobethal, 8389 5570, bierhaus.com.au PRANCING PONY Mount Barker-based Prancing Pony moved recently from small industrial estate digs to a larger brewing and entertaining space close to the SE Freeway. The stainless steel is out and proud for visitors to witness the action when artisan brewer Frank Samson hops into full gear. There’s a good value tasting paddle for those wanting a flavour trial, and for extra relaxing a corner of retro couches slows down the pace even more. The German vibe in the place doesn’t get much better than the wursts and rolls, or settle in to a hearty burger. 42 Mt Barker Road, Totness, 8398 3881, prancingponybrewery.com.au RIVERLAND WOOLSHED BREWERY There’s something all-encompassing about the Mighty Murray and a nicely made beer. Right now, at Wilkadene, near Renmark, there’s a brilliant view from an elevated deck near a river bend and there’s a stubby of Judas The Dark with your name on it. The setting is about as good as it gets. The aroma of gums, the rising sweetness in the air from the river and those small batch ales. Try one in situ and you’ll seek them out in your town. 65 Wilkinson Road, Wilkadene, 8595 8188, aboverenmark.com.au ON-PREMISE BREWERIES WHEATY BREWING CORPS The brew length is just 600 litres but somehow Jade Flavell procures more than 20 beers in a frenetic tap cycle that also includes keg specials for charity. Taste the area’s brewing heritage in the clever Thebby Bitter. 39 George Street Thebarton, 8443 4546 wheatybrewingcorps.com  EKHINDNA The scene is set with rows of vines around this compact restaurant but you’ll also find diners sipping from tasting paddles of beer. Corner of Kangarilla and Foggo Road, McLaren Vale, (08) 8323 8496, ekhidnawines.com.au GRUMPY’S BREWHAUS A local institution, Grumpy’s is as well known these days for its wood oven pizza as its small batch beers made by Nick Schultz. Have a go at the Boston Cream, an American pale using crystal malt. 827 Mount Barker Road, Verdun, 8188 1133, grumpys.com.au PORT DOCK BREWERY Right around the corner from the Port’s historic Lipson St, the Dock can warm cockles with its small batch Milk Stout or Old Preacher Strong Ale (7.5 per cent alc). And their Ginja beer, with a counter meal, is a bracing local favourite. 10 Todd St, Port Adelaide, 8240 0187, portdockbreweryhotel.com.au LADY BURRA The city centre’s only working brewery opened earlier this month and delivers its four brews alongside some home-style Portuguese cooking, from the mum of one of the owners. Try seafood rice with a pilsener, or roasted goat with an American pale ale. 4 Topham Mall, city, 8231 8928, ladyburrabrewhouse.com.au

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