Friday, December 12

New $1m Brew House Opens in Clare

South Australia’s Clare Valley is hoping to leap onto the global craft beer map with the opening of a $1m state-of-the-art brew house at Pikes Winery. Brewing is due to begin today, with the new tasting room opening in January.  
“We’re getting geared up right now,” says Andrew Pike, the winery’s director. “We’ll probably start off with a pilsner and then follow up with a sparkling ale. It’s all happening here at the moment.”
The new facility, which includes a 2000-litre brewing system imported from Italy and a modern bottling plant, is under the direction of Brad Nolen (subs: correct), a respected brewer who was previously team leader at the Gage Roads Brewing Company in Western Australia.
“Brad is chomping on the bit to get started,” says Pike, whose family have been making wine in the Polish Hill River Estate sub region since 1984.
Although the hop and the vine are often seen as rivals, Pike’s English forbears ran the Oakbank Brewery in the Adelaide Hills for almost 90 years. The family resumed beer making in 1996 with the release of a small range of traditional pilsners, ales and stouts, but felt that there was sufficient consumer demand to justify building its own microbrewery – a process which was aided by a substantial grant from the South Australian government.
Pike believes that wine-making and brewing, if correctly managed, are highly complimentary activities and hopes the new brew house will attract more visitors to the Clare, a region which known internationally for its Rieslings.
“I think the two things go hand in glove,” he says. “Knappstein [another Clare Valley winery which has branched into craft beer] set the scene many years ago, but there aren’t too many others doing this in South Australia.” Apart from broadening the consumer experience at the winery, Pike says the new brew house will give the company more quality control, lift production and potentially allow Nolen to widen its current range of craft beers and ales. “First and foremost we want to hone our existing products, but then we’ll look at doing some regular seasonal offerings,” he says. “It’s early days.”
From January 2015 Pikes Wines will be open for beer and wine tastings, seven days a week. For more information visit

Thursday, December 4

For The Traveller Who Has Everything

It’s not possible. Incroyable! Those cunning French types have created the must-have accessory for 2015 – a portable and very elegant espresso machine. Ever craved for a short black on that long haul flight? Or found yourself facing an ancient sachet of instant coffee in a hotel room? Then the Handpresso Wild Hybrid is the answer to your prayers. The robust thermos flask means that you can now make coffee just about anywhere – from a remote camp site to your railway carriage. All you need is some hot water to fill the thermos and even the laziest cabin crew can manage that. The ingenious pump action system means that you can quickly achieve  16 bar-pressure – and the perfect espresso. The supa dupa leather travel bag contains a manual espresso machine, four unbreakable cups, a single hand thermos-insulated flask (to keep hot water even longer) and one small napkin. The machine takes normal ground coffee or E.S.E. pods. The shoulder bag weighs just 1590g or 3.5lbs. This wonderful little travel mate cost €179 and it does work beautifully. I tested the unit during a road trip to Port Lincoln. My score: a perfect 10. Bravo. Smaller units for the car are also available. For more information visit