9 minute read

Here's cheers to Fleurieu beers

Move over wine. Grapes, step aside – there is a refreshing new beverage in town. Craft beer is well and truly flowing in the Fleurieu, and while the wave of brewers is a more recent phenomenon, the region has a long history of producing the key raw ingredient: malting barley. I thought it was about time to shine a light on this latest breed of fermentation freaks.

Set in the organic barley field adjacent to their cellar door, the Battle of Bosworth 2018 cellar door crew pose with a 30+ year old New Holland header used for their harvest.

Battle of Bosworth, Willunga

Organic grapegrower, winemaker and wannabe fisherman, Joch Bosworth had a vacant piece of land after he grubbed out a vineyard. He decided to grow certified organic barley, with the intent of making some whiskey and beer from his crop. While this may sound like a simple plan, most barley is currently malted in bulk. After finding a small batch malter in Geelong, Joch became the proud owner of what he describes as ‘Australia’s most expensive malt!’ Working with Simon and Kate at Smiling Samoyed Brewery in Myponga, Joch developed super clean malt-driven pale ale, with only a small amount of hops. This extremely limited single-paddock regional beer is available from the Battle of Bosworth cellar door.

Forktree Brewing, Carrickalinga

If you’re looking for a brewery with a breathtaking view, then do yourself a favour and visit Forktree Brewing in Carrickalinga when they open to the public in the near future. Sitting on top of a hill at the back of Carrickalinga, you can see all the way down the coast to Cape Jervis; you can even spot Kangaroo Island on a clear day. Brewer and owner, Ben Hatcher, became obsessed with home brewing and the creative process that comes with beer production, focussing on crafting quality beers. Realising the family farm was only one hour south of Adelaide – but feels like the middle of nowhere – he decided to start the building phase for his brewery door. ‘I absolutely love the area,’ Ben muses. ‘It is a true natural paradise.’

Goodieson Brewery, McLaren Vale

After spending their 20’s travelling through Europe, developing a taste for craft beer among the traditional beer houses of Austria and Germany, Jeff and Mary Goodieson returned to Australia with a mission. Jeff completed a Bachelor of Food Technology with Honours in Malting and Brewing in 1999, and landed a job at West End Brewery. The opening of their own brewery on Sand Road in McLaren Vale in 2010 was the culmination of their dream. Many, many accolades have followed, establishing Jeff as one of Australia’s most respected and leading brewers. With all the brewing on-site, visitors can sit back under the big gum trees and enjoy the big flavoured, fullbodied beers with fresh, clean finishes that Goodieson is renowned for. Jeff assures consistency saying, ‘the brand is a promise, you have to live up to that promise. If I am not 100-per-cent happy with the beer, it doesn’t go out the door’.

At Meechi Brewing they believe that every good wine region needs a beer brand, so they started the first beer brand for Langhome Creek.

Kangaroo Island Brewing, Kingscote

‘Hand Built Beer’ is the brand catchcry for Kangaroo Island Brewing, and it is one that is adhered to in every sense. Builder/brewer Mike, and his eco-tourism specialist partner, Nina, moved to the island from Mclaren Vale six years ago and ‘got sick of waiting for someone else to open up a brewery, so we thought we’d have a crack’. All the beers have been crafted by hand – super authentic – and Mike sticks to chasing flavour before trends. The cellar door consists of local stone-recycled timbers and steel from old shearing sheds and jetties on the island, and was built by Mike and Nina. ‘We believe everything on island has had to travel more than the average item and deserves a second go round.’ 

NOTE: Most of the beers in this editorial are or will soon be available at their own beer doors (three are currently under construction!) Two are available their cellar doors because a couple of wine makers decided to add beer to their arsenal. So it is very exciting times indeed for beer drinkers on the Fleurieu!

Jeff Goodieson at their brewery in Mclaren Vale.
The view from the large deck at the soon to be opened Forktree Brewing is stunning!

Meechi Brewing Company, Langhorne Creek

Meechi Brewing Company was launched back in 2014 when two mates who studied winemaking together emerged from the deep dark depths of the man cave (AKA the back shed). Owners Matt and Kate Schmidt, Ben Potts and Lucy Willson believe that every good wine region needs a beer brand. So, after countless research and development missions, BBQ’s and long lunches – as well as extensive testing by family and friends – Meechi became the first beer produced in Langhorne Creek. The ‘Meechi’ name draws on the aboriginal name for the lifeline of the region, the River Bremer. These small-batch, handcrafted beers are available for tasting at The Winehouse Cellar Door.

Shifty Lizard, Willunga

The old butchers on High Street in Willunga has recently transformed into the Shifty Lizard Taphouse, where mates Lee Stone and Danny Strapps have taken their brewing to the next level. Originally brewing out of a backyard shed in Old Noarlunga, the new taphouse has allowed them to expand their range and customer base on the increasingly bustling Willunga street. Lee looks after the brewing with many years working in the UK fitting taps and tap lines into pubs for some of the largest names in the game under his belt. Danny looks after all of the illustration, design and photography for the brand. With beers like ‘Stouty McStout Face’, it’s clear these boys like to have a bit of fun with the brand. ‘We take beer seriously, but that’s about the only thing!’ Lee says.

Smiling Samoyed, Myponga

Simon Dunstone and Kate Henning are seriously committed home brewers. At their peak, software engineer Simon and lawyer Kate had four beers on tap in their home. Opening a brewery seemed like the natural next step. In their search for a brewery site they saw the spot in Myponga and there was an immediate attraction; in 2012 the duo gave up their day jobs and opened its doors. Six years on, visitors swarm to the brewery for the delicious wood oven pizzas and the opportunity to see the brewery in action, bringing the kids to play in the fabulous on-site playground. Oh, and the dogs … everyone comes for the dogs. The two fluffy brewery mascots, Samoyed’s Hoppy and Mia, are everyone’s favourite. Don’t believe it? Well, Hoppy was recently crowned ‘Brewery Dog of the Year’ at Serafino Wineries ‘Paws for a Cause’ community event.

At Smiling Samoyed you can often be greeted by Hoppy or Mia.

Sparkke, Willunga

Sparkke is a beverage brand that is shaking things up. Female owned and operated, with a strong social conscience, Sparkke is intent on disrupting Australia’s $4.3 billion beer industry – an industry that arguably lacks equality and diversity. Brewer Agi Gajic became fascinated with beer while she was working in a pub with rotating craft beer taps. Originally from Fremantle, Agi honed her craft at Gage Roads, then Young Henrys in New South Wales, before moving to Adelaide in 2017 to begin the Sparkke journey. The beers are currently brewed in Willunga and can be delivered to your door, with 10-percent of sales donated to social causes that the Sparkke team are passionate about. Sparkke is also making other beverages in cans, sourcing grapes from McLaren Vale for their white wine and bubbles, as well as orange blossom honey from Aldinga for their Ginger Beer.

Steam Exchange Brewery, Goolwa

Back when there were only three craft breweries in the entire state – and after decades of home brewing – Gareth and Angela Andrews opened the Fleurieu’s very first boutique brewery to customers in the Goolwa Wharf precinct in 2006. Since then, Steam Exchange beers have won a myriad of awards, and the brewery door has hosted thousands of visitors for a cleansing ale on the wharf. More recently, the Andrews have diversified into whiskey production, and are continuing their award-winning ways taking out Best International Whisky trophy at the American Distilling Institute Awards earlier this year.

Dan Wright of Swell Brewing Co. will soon be opening a brewery door on Oliver Road in McLaren Vale.

Swell Brewing Co., McLaren Vale

Dan Wright (yes related) has been in search of the perfect wave since he first waxed a surfboard. He’s also been in search of the perfect beer. While trekking the world full of too much average beer on a twoyear surf and snowboard odyssey, an idea brewed. Swell Brewing Co. is the result, a ‘beer to be consumed cold with mates after a day on the coast’. Dan is a viticulturist by trade and comes to brewing from a wine background. He stunned the beer community when his Swell Golden Ale won the Best Pale Ale at the Australian International Beer Awards in 2016; quite a feat for a relative newcomer. Currently building a brewery door and taphouse on his vineyard on Oliver’s Road, Swell has come a long way since the trial batches in the back shed.

The Steam Exchange Brewery and Fleurieu Distillery now reside side-by-side at the Goolwa Wharf Precinct.

Vale Brewing & Fox Hat, Willunga

Jeff Wright (no relation) started his working career pulling beers in bars through university while studying viticulture at Adelaide University. Jeff has been Head Brewer at Vale Brewing since 2011, where he commissioned the brewing facility in Willunga. Vale Brewing burst onto the craft beer scene in 2008 and added the Fox Hat brand to their stable more recently, to enable the brewing team to up their experimental level. Probably the most well-known Fleurieu brand interstate, the beers have been paving the way for others in the region. Vale has had a recent change in ownership, becoming part of the South Australian family-owned craft beverage producer, Bickfords. As such, you can now sample the beers at sister winery, Beresford Estate, in McLaren Flat.

Vale Brewery burst on to the craft beer scene in 2008 and most recently added the Fox Hat brand to their stable.
Brewer Luke Meir and wine maker Alan Varney are eagerly anticipating the opening of Victor's Place: Cellar / Brew Door and Restaurant – with chef Joey Taylor.

Victor’s Place, Old Noarlunga

Victor’s Place is a labour of love born over many years and beers shared by three good mates: brewer Luke Muir, chef Joey Taylor, and winemaker Alan Varney. Working together at d’Arenberg wines for the past decade, they dared to dream of a place where they could share their food, beer and wine creations with the world. All three call the Fleurieu home and, inspired by the budding brewery scene, they are currently mid-development of their winery, brewery and restaurant on Victor Harbour Road. With full integration of the production areas and public spaces, Victor’s Place will allow guests to see right into the winery, brewery and kitchen. ‘We want to create a place loved by locals where you can always come in and try something new’, Alan says.