Tuesday, September 22

French Champagne or Craft Beer?

Fresh from the success of this year's laneway wine festival, our friends as Adelaide's East End Cellars (the city's best independent wine merchant) have unveiled their plans for an outdoor celebration which will bring South Australian craft beer and French champagne together under the same umbrella(s), literally.

The inaugural ‘Boutique Beer and Bubbles’ laneway event will take place in Vardon Avenue on Saturday, November 7 between 1pm and 6pm. The hip precinct, which is adjacent to Ebenezer Place, will be transformed into a chic, urban space. Organisers say the event will showcase the very best local craft beer and sparkling wine as well as a selection of international champagnes.

“We have some of the best brewers in the world based in South Australia and our home grown sparkling wines are nothing short of impressive, you only need to look at the collection of wine show awards they have won," says event director Michael Andrewartha. “We want to showcase this world of talent at a special tasting event.”

For a mere $35 festival-goers will be able to sample over 50 South Australian brewed beers, plus a wide selection of premium local and imported wines. The event will feature delicious street style food and local DJs. A perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon in Adelaide's lifestyle hub. 

For further information visit www.eastendcellars.com.au

Tuesday, September 1

With This Pint Of Bitter I Thee Wed

A pub with a marriage celebrant? Genius! A press release from Fuller, Smith & Turner, the London brewer and premium pub  company, tells me that The Parcel Yard at King's Cross railway station is now open for the business of wedlock "Set in a Grade I listed building in the heart of London King’s Cross railway station, this beautiful pub spans two floors and showcases original features throughout," according to the press release. Several rooms are now licensed for marriage ceremonies: The Waiting Room (capacity 80), The Board Room (capacity 12), The Games Room (capacity 20), The Station Master’s Room (capacity 40) and The First Class Lounge (capacity 50).
“This is fantastic news for The Parcel Yard, the first of its kind, allowing the pub to delve into another market," said Jonathon Swaine, Managing Director of Fuller’s Inns. "It is a unique and stunning venue, in one of the most accessible transport hubs in the world, and already enjoys a considerable reputation in the beer and food world. I cannot wait to congratulate the first couple to marry in the pub. I am certain their special day will be made all the more unique by having their ceremony in what is believed to be the first station pub with a marriage licence. ”
Beer Airways is touching down in the Old Dart in late October and has pencilled in an inspection. Maybe we can renew our vows there? Being married is thirsty work.

Friday, August 14

Queensland's Most Northerly Brewery

So what are these fishing pictures doing on a beer blog? Because construction has just begin on Hemingway’s Brewery, a waterfront microbrewery, bar and restaurant that will form a key part of The Reef Marina’s multimillion-dollar expansion. When it commences trading in May 2016, Hemingway’s Brewery is destined to inject an exciting new energy into the town’s busy marina hub – effectively putting the ‘port’ back into ‘Port Douglas’ while providing a relaxed destination for guests to enjoy authentic craft beer brewed fresh on-site. Envisaging the development, owners Tony Fyfe (pictured in white T-shirt) and Craig Parsell felt Port Douglas needed to continue investing in its waterfront, creating a venue capitalising on the natural beauty of the region and its rich history as a fishing port and gateway to the Great Barrier Reef.
“As locals, we wanted to create a waterfront offering that has not yet been experienced in Port Douglas. We want Hemingway’s Brewery to become part of the Port Douglas story – a place where locals can meet to relax, enjoy an authentic craft beer and take in the slice of paradise we call home,” said Mr Fyfe.
Tony added that by opening a mircrobrewery, they were effectively matching a growing demand in the global market for craft beer. “When compared to commercially manufactured brands, craft beer is a fresher and healthier alternative. Craft ales are made the traditional way with just four key ingredients and are unfiltered, unpastuerised and preservative free,” he said.
Also partners in luxury fishing charter business, Far North Sports Fishing, Mr Fyfe and Mr Parsell believe Hemingway’s Brewery will provide a fitting end to a magic day on the Great Barrier Reef. “It would be great for guests to spend a day out on the Great Barrier Reef, stepping off the boat and into a craft brewery located right on the water’s edge,” said Mr Fyfe.
Reflecting the owners’ passion for all things natural, Hemingway’s Brewery will feature a state-of-the-art, on-site microbrewery developed in consultation with top industry consultant, Costa Nikias from Melbourne’s Beverage and Brewing Consulting. Besides serving the freshest quality craft beer, Hemingway’s will offer a menu of gourmet pizzas, tapas and BBQ-style food.
Building commences today, with Hemingway’s Brewery expected to begin trading in May 2016. The expansive two-level venue covers a total space of 850 square metres and will seat at least 450 people, comprising both indoor and outdoor areas.
With spacious decks providing a natural fit with the tropical environment, the brewery’s top floor will include a bar and event centre and boast stunning views across the marina. The ground floor will incorporate a garden bar, lounge bar and enclosed children’s play area. The brewery development comes amidst a major overhaul of Port Douglas’ The Reef Marina that has included the addition of 30 new berths (opened last week by the Hon. Warren Entsch, Member for Leichardt) as well as an upgraded retail precinct. 

Friday, August 7

My Secret Malaysia

Just two hours’ drive from Kuala Lumpur, Bukit Fraser (named after a long departed Scottish prospector) is surely one of the most unlikely travel destinations in Asia. With its cream teas, Toby Jugs and mock-Tudor bungalows, this colonial hill station would look more at home in an episode of Midsomer Murders than on a normal travel itinerary of Malaysia. There’s even a red post box in the village square. A time-consuming bus service from the city keeps most visitors away. And apart from a golf course there’s not much to do – except sip tea and pretend the sun never set on the British Empire; the resort is popular with wealthy Singaporeans who love Jane Austen and scones and jam, while the lush forest teems with eager young ornithologists; there are over 270 bird species here. Frasers Hill is whimsical, charming, pointless and slightly batty. I hope it never changes. www.fraserhill.info

This story originally appeared in Underrated Travel Destinations (Sydney Morning Herald, July 29 2015)

Friday, July 3

A Mongrel Winter Brew

Seven years after it burst onto the national micro-brewing scene with its innovative Pale Ale, South Australia’s Vale Brewing company has launched a new, experimental range of craft beers under its new Fox Hat moniker.
Punters were given a sneak preview of the two initial brews, Phat Mongrel and metric IPA, at the Udaberri laneway bar in Adelaide last week – your correspondent’s first night out since becoming a father again on June 12.
Tasting beer on the run in a crowded bar is always difficult but I was really impressed with the IPA – at 7%ABV the strongest and most out-there beer to emerge from the McLaren Vale brew house since its foundation.
Head brewer Jeff Wright says the beer is named in honour of Australia’s transition from an imperial to a metric system of measurements 50 years ago.
“We thought a beer that’s full of uncomplicated metric goodness, in hops, malt and alcohol warmth was called for,” he said. “The result is Fox Hat metric IPA, measuring a whopping 80 on the International Bitterness Unit (IBU) … and offering a solid head with a slight green tinge and simple resinous pine and fruit aromas.”
Wright is hoping that this cutting-edge IPA will generate the same enthusiasm as the brewery’s Phat Mongrel, an American-style oatmeal stout released earlier in the year; more innovative Fox Hat brews are in the pipeline.
“Phat Mongrel is an exciting and innovative craft beer in every sense,” he said. “To the eye the darknesss delivered by a whack of black and roasted malts subtly gives way to fine beads of coffee coloured nitro bubbles that rise to a rich and creamy head.”
With winter temperatures in South Australia dipping to around 4C overnight this ballsy black brew (6.5%ABV) certainly hits the spot – the perfect accompaniment for a wedge of Stilton and some vinegar soaked pickled onions.
Phat Mongrel is currently available on tap only at venues across Australia, while metric IPA will have a more limited release in South Australia. Both brews will be available for tasting at the inaugural Adelaide Beer & BBQ Festival July 10-12. 
For more visit http://foxhatbrewing.com.au

Friday, June 5

Young Henrys On Ice

Photographs by John Kruger

The much-anticipated opening of a spanking new Young Henrys brewery in Adelaide has been the talk of the city’s hoptocracy for the past six months. You know, those cashed up Sydney hipster brewers who were set to revolutionise the local craft beer scene? 
According to the jungle drums the perfect site for a new brewery had already been chosen. Apparently.
Last week, your scribe, along with assorted local media, was invited to a special Young Henrys lunch (co-hosted by Kinkawooka Mussels) at Sean’s Kitchen at the Casino. When was the brewery opening? Any launch beers? Would they have a tasting room like the one in Newtown?
I immediately buttonholed the company’s Dan Hampton to get the latest on this brewing mega event – but the news was not what I was expecting. Young Henrys will not be opening a brewery in Adelaide, or anywhere else in Australia, for at least another year, possibly two.
Dan says Young Henrys hit a couple of (unspecified) hurdles in Adelaide and had put the new brewery on ice – although they might consider some type of retail outlet in the city centre as a stop gap.
“We’re going to focus on the bars that are supporting us [in Adelaide] and still keep our eyes open for the right opportunity – and not just do it because that’s what we think we should do,” he said.
By way of compensation the brewers at Young Henrys (the team includes Aussie beer legend Richard Adamson) created a special mussel-infused witbier which proved the ideal accompaniment for Sean Connolly’s mussel themed feast – love those amazing mussel fritters.
“This meal is just about celebrating the fantastic produce of South Australia – and an excuse to have a beer, of course,” said Sean before returning to the kitchen.
Lunch at Sean’s Kitchen is always a pleasure, but was I the only person at the table who felt a little deflated? With Pirate Life, Mismatch and Big Shed all kicking goals in Adelaide, Young Henrys would have really given the craft beer scene in SA that little bit of extra gloss.
As Dan suggested, while Adelaide’s thriving small bar scene is helping to shake things up the majority of pubs across the metropolitan area are still beholden to the major brewers like Lion Nathan and SAB Miller.
Without access to taps in some of these bigger establishments, it seems interstate craft moguls are less inclined to invest their time and money in Adelaide.
“We’re really spoilt in Sydney and Melbourne because there are plenty of independent pubs – or independent pub groups — that aren’t totally aligned with one big [brewing] company,” said Dan.
“That’s not the case yet in Adelaide. You’ve got a few that have done it, like the Franklin and Wright Street, but not many. But that was the case in Sydney five or 10 years ago, so it has got to change. It’s just not there yet.”


Friday, May 29

Facelift For The Home of Grange

Okay, okay it's called Beer Airways but sometimes a wine-related story is good enough to jump the fence and today's opening of the new tasting facility at Penfolds Magill Estate in Adelaide surely qualifies. Located in the foothills of the Adelaide Ranges, the estate is one of Australia's most remarkable (and intact) 19th Century industrial complexes – and the birthplace of Penfolds Grange. As part of a multi-million dollar redevelopment of the site the company has created a new Cellar Door and Magill Estate Kitchen. The stunning new facilities were designed by architects Denton Corker Marshall and took two years to complete. The new facilities will be opened officially by Peter Gago, head winemaker at Penfolds, next Thursday (June 4). Penfolds' chief marketing officer Simon Marton says the designers have blended heritage values and the spirit of innovation to create a world-class tasting facility within the city limits of Adelaide.
“The changes to Magill Estate include a state-of-the-art Cellar Door space repositioned at the front of the winery and a new Kitchen concept with indoor and outdoor dining," he says. "The new spaces have achieved the delicate balance between preserving the charm and historical character of the site while incorporating a modern, world-class experience for visitors that reflects Penfolds exciting future as much as it does our 171-year history.
Visitors to the new-look visitor centre will be able to enjoy tutored tastings and guided tours, purchase rare and vintage Penfolds wines and sample a glass of the company's flagship red at the  Magill Estate Kitchen overlooking the original Penfolds vineyards. The Back Vintage tasting room houses back-vintage wines cellared by Penfolds in ideal conditions and available for purchase.
Penfolds Magill Estate is 15 minutes from the centre of Adelaide. The cellar door is open daily, 9am to 6pm. For more information visit www.penfolds.com

Wednesday, May 27

Secret Barossa Brews

These are exciting times at Barossa Valley Brewing. The boutique Tanunda outfit has announced that it intends to double the size of its current 1,800-litre brew shed. As part of the redevelopment, BVB will also install a bottling plant and add cans to its current all-glass portfolio.
“Compared to the average home brewer 1,800 litres may seem like a lot but it’s really tiny on a commercial scale,” says Denham D’Silva, the managing director of BVB. “The big boys would spill in a day what we brew in a week.”
BVB announced its expansion plans at a special open-day for the South Australian hospitality industry on Monday organised by food consultant Dougal McFuzzlebutt. Around 45 chefs, bar managers, sommeliers and other industry professionals were treated to a tour of the current brew house and an excellent five-course lunch (with matching beers) in the cosy BVB restaurant.
Apart from being able to sample BVB’s established portfolio of Beer Sting, Hop Heaven and Double IPA head brewer James Collison (pictured with beer) also gave his guests a sneak peek at some of his more experimental brews. Barossa Smoke (6.5% ABV), which features malt smoked in a local smallgoods smokehouse called Steiny’s, was an instant hit; diners enjoyed its earthy, wintery flavours which complemented the pork dish excellently.
For dessert James unveiled his new seasonal creation for the colder months – a Winter Stout (5.9% ABV) featuring Peruvian chocolate, espresso and coffee beans. For me this was the beer of the day, with a strong liquorice colour, textured mouth feel and a wallop of caffeine to finish – could this be the Barossa’s first true breakfast ale? The first batch of Winter Stout is being bottled this week, so contact the brewery to reserve your supply now.
Next up was an experimental celebration brew called Christmas Pudding Porter. As James explained this beer is a work in progress, featuring orange zest, star anise, nutmeg, French oak, cinnamon, Grand Marnier and several other exotic ingredients. “I want it to taste as if you’ve just eaten a slice of Christmas cake,” said the head brewer. “Making this beer has been an enormous technical challenge – so I welcome your feedback.”
Now approaching its 10th anniversary Barossa Valley Brewing is clearly on an upwards trajectory with a swag of recent awards under its belt, a world-class head brewer at the helm and a successful tasting room and restaurant.
D’Silva says BVB’s commitment to using high-quality ingredients, constant experimentation and an enduring passion for craft beer is finally being rewarded.
“This is just the start of the story,” he says. “We keep working hard, experimenting harder and enjoying great beer with an increasing band of friends. We look forward to writing the next chapter of our story.”

Friday, May 22

The Pie Floater Invades Victoria

One of South Australia's strangest culinary creations, the celebrated Pie Floater, is the inspiration behind a special one-off beer created by Vale Brewing for this year's Great Australasia Beer SpecTAPular (GABS) in Melbourne. The intriguing new brew, called Pie Cart Porter, will unveiled at GABS today.
Head Brewer Jeff Wright has high hopes his split pea and smoky flavoured beer, which he describes as “delivering great balance”, will hit the spot with the thousands of beer aficionados who flock to the event each year.
“I got the idea while reading a Paul Mercurio recipe for Pea and Ham Soup with added Porter for flavour and thought: ‘that’s it, we Adelaideans are famous for our pie floaters, so let’s add beer to the mix and take an iconic South Australian taste over to Melbourne this year," says Jeff.
“We played around with a few options before settling on porter, a dark style of beer originally developed in London from brown malt, as it really injects a lovely finish to a drink that’s made with winter very much in mind.”

GABS (May 22-24) is Australia's largest beer event which this year attracted more than 120 entries from Australasia and further afield. For more visit http://www.gabsfestival.com.au

Monday, May 4

Oldest Beer Festival is BACK

South Australia’s talented brewers and cider makers will be showcasing their wares to the general public at a new three-day festival at the Adelaide Showground in July.
Organisers say that the inaugural Adelaide Beer & BBQ Festival (July 10-12, 2015) is a natural progression for the Royal Adelaide Beer Awards which have been running since 2011. “Because of the growth of the number of microbreweries [in South Australia] it seemed to make sense to hold a beer festival,” says Brad Ward, projects officer at the Royal Adelaide Show. “We saw that there was a hole in the market.” The new festival, which will include the announcement of the 2015 beer and cider awards, is expected to attract 30 exhibitors from around Australia and overseas. Festival-goers will also enjoy degustation dinners, exclusive brews and ciders, live music, DJs and dishes prepared by some of Adelaide’s top chefs. Winners of the 2015 beer and cider awards will be announced on the opening night – Friday July 10, 2015. “At this stage we’re hoping that approximately 65 per cent of the beers and ciders on offer at the festival will be from South Australia, but the rest could come from anywhere,” says Ward.
Adelaide Showground has appointed Gareth Lewis to head up the new beer and cider festival. Apart from being one of Adelaide’s most successful bar and pub entrepreneurs, Lewis has also run a number of major outdoor events such as Big Day Out, Parklife and Soundwave. The launch of a major new beer festival in Adelaide underlines the strength of the craft beer market in Australia. Sales of craft beer in this country are tipped to increase by 5 per cent annually over the next five years, while commercial beer sales are expected to grow by a sluggish 1.7 per cent (Source: IBIS World). The outlook for cider is even more impressive, with sales of this beverage expected to increase by a whopping 21.5 per cent annually over the same five-year period. Although South Australia’s craft brewing sector is fairly small compared to craft pioneers Western Australia, Victoria and New South Wales, the past 18 months has seen a raft of new openings, including Big Shed, MisMatch, Little Bang and Pirate Life all cranking out some fantastic brews – while Sydney brewer Young Henrys is on track to open an Adelaide brewery in late 2015. While the Adelaide beer festival will go up against heavyweights like GABS in Melbourne, Beervana in Wellington and the Sydney Craft Beer Week, South Australia has a much longer tradition of beer and cider making than its interstate and New Zealand counterparts – the very first beer competition was held in Adelaide way back in 1844. Festival organisers are hoping that the new event will help raise the profile of that state’s artisan brewers and cider makers who have long played second fiddle to the state’s illustrious winemakers. “In this state beer and cider has always been slightly overshadowed by our wineries,” says Brad Ward. “I think it’s now time for them to enjoy the limelight – some of the stuff our brewers and cider makers are now producing is just awesome.”

Tickets to the Adelaide Beer & BBQ Festival (July 10-12, 2015) can be purchased online at www.oztix.com.au