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

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

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