Thursday, August 25

Ahoy My Beauties! It’s Adnams

It’s not often a writer gets to use the word ‘serendipity’ in his or her copy without blushing but that’s precisely how I’d describe my encounter with Adnams Brewery – one of Britain’s oldest independent brewers.
Two days after picking up a couple of bottles of Adnam’s Broadside at my local bottle shop in Adelaide I received a chirpy email from Caroline Walker, the company’s public relations maestro, telling me that the Suffolk brewery has begun shipping Broadside, a fruity dark ale, and Ghost Ship, a refreshing pale ale, to Australia in volume. Bingo!
I’d already fallen in love with Broadside, a beautifully crafted beer, dark hued and with a lovely caramel aftertaste, but needed to return to the store for a couple of cans of Ghost Ship – a surprisingly light, New World pale ale (which uses three types of American hops).
Both beers have travelled well from the UK and are fresh and clean tasting, but watch out for the Ghost Ship 440ml cans which are very gassy. Open carefully, preferable in the sink. I had no such issues with Broadside, a traditional English ale packed with rich Christmas cake flavours, which is being exported in handsome 500ml bottles.
Caroline tells me that Broadside commemorates the Battle of Solebay, when the Dutch Fleet surprised a joint Anglo-French armada off the south coast of England in 1672. Preparations for the naval engagement were apparently hampered by the fact that most of the English sailors were getting sloshed on local Suffolk beer – the precursor of the lovely ruby red brew now being made by Adnams. The naval engagement ended in a draw, by the way.
As a passionate advocate of English beer, especially traditional bitter, I’m delighted to see Adnams enter the Australian market. Ten years ago the only UK beer on our shelves was Newcastle Brown or, if you were lucky, a bottle of Theakston Old Peculiar long past its prime. How things have changed! Big retailers such as BWS, Dan Murphy’s and Vintage Cellars are now importing a wide range of British beers and, thankfully, Australian prejudice about “flat, warm” English ale is slowly fading – although not completely. Young, open-minded Australian and New Zealand craft brewers can take much of the credit for making English ales, stouts and porters cool again and perhaps paving the way for brewers such as Adnams to fire a broadside (pun intended) across the tastebuds of complacent middle-aged Australian beer drinkers who remain wedded to commercial ice-cold lager –  which a brewing mate of mine in the Hunter Valley calls  “lawnmower beer”, the type of forgettable froth you sink after mowing the grass on a hot day. So get out there and try a robust, food-friendly English ale – and look out for the special Adnams summer promotion at Dan Murphy’s stores during November and December.

Tuesday, August 23

The Pony Wows UK Judges

Adelaide Hills craft brewer Prancing Pony has picked up two medals at this year’s International Beer Challenge (IBC) in London. The popular South Australian microbrewery won gold for its  India Red Ale and silver for its Black Ale at the global challenge.
The IBC attracts entries from more than 30 countries around the world. The judging panel consists of the United Kingdom’s top retailers, importers, publicans, brewers, writers and flavour analysts.
 “The recognition this gives us on the world stage is in ‘money you can’t buy’ territory,” said Prancing Pony CEO Corinna Steeb.
“Not only does it put the brewery on the map, it also showcases the Adelaide Hills, South Australia and even Australia as a big player in the beer industry.”
All Gold winners go into the mix for the Best in Class Trophy and Supreme Champion beer, which will be announced at a ceremony in London on Friday, 5 September.
“To walk away with two medals from an international beer competition after having been in this industry for such a short period of time is simply awesome and shows that small breweries can compete with the best (and much bigger breweries) from around the world,” Corinna said.
You can sample these and other award winning beers at the impressive Prancing Pony brew-shed, which also serves a small bites, regional platters, burgers and more substantial meals featuring fresh local ingredients.

Where: Prancing Pony, 42 Mount Barker Road, Totness

Monday, August 15

South Australia Goes Coastal

Good to see that craft beer’s tentacles are spreading across the entire geological landmass of South Australia, and out to sea. While Adelaide continues to power ahead with exciting developments at Pirate Life and Little Bang, word comes to us of some exciting coastal (and island) developments with the new Kangaroo Island Brewery now up and running. The rustic brew house, located just outside Kingscote, is making a small range of authentic Kangaroo Island ales – brewer Mike Holden has promised more details soon. KIB is using hops grown, planted and harvested on the island.

Meanwhile, plans are well advanced for brewery openings on both Yorke and Eyre peninsulas. 

Beer Garden Brewing in Port Lincoln is due to begin trading in the next few weeks – owners Mark and Janie Butterworth (pictured in the Port Lincoln Times) will brew interesting small batch ales in a converted bakery on London Street. The couple plan to make six types of beer using mostly local ingredients – barley grown on the Eyre Peninsula already makes its way to major breweries in Japan and Europe. Details of the proposed Yorke Peninsula brewery are a little more vague, but I’m told this is slated for some time in 2017. If anyone has a contact please forward it to me.

Further east, well a lot further east in fact, Robe Town Brewery, continues has hit its straps. The tiny Millicent Road brewery is making a range of slow-brewed ales, including Pale Ale, Amber Ale, Stout and Porter, which are being sold by several pubs and restaurants in town. Tastings and tours are available at the brewery.

And don’t forget the Robe Home Brew & Craft Beer Festival (17 & 18 September 2016) is just around the corner. The festival attracts home brewers from Robe, the Limestone Coast, Coonawarra and even across the state border. Entries close on September 2.