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If you’re looking for somewhere to quench your thirst this winter (or anytime, really), you’ve come to the right place! Home to a growing number of craft breweries and distilleries, the Fleurieu Peninsula is fast becoming South Australia’s top region for handcrafted beers and spirits. Whether you’re after a crisp, refreshing lager, a hoppy pale ale or a rich, chocolatey stout that’ll warm your bones, the Fleurieu’s got it all. Here’s a list of the 14 essential breweries and distilleries to visit in the Fleurieu this winter – better hop to it…
1. VICTOR'S PLACE
Once an 1870's Noarlunga woolshed, Victor’s Place has been restored to an operational family run winery, brewery and kitchen serving lunch and dinner five days a week. This beautifully restored Limestone Barn is perfectly located at the gateway to McLaren Vale and enjoys picturesque views of Onkaparinga Valley. You won't want to miss tasting their quality wine and beer crafted on-site by Alan Varney, owner and former winemaker at d’Arenburg. You might even catch some live music if you’re there on a weekend.
Top pick: New release Red Rye IPA
Find it: 62 Victor Harbor Road, Old Noarlunga
2. SWELL BREWING CO
The long awaited Swell Brewing Co taphouse is finally open and you can't miss this enormous two-storey shed in McLaren Vale. “It’s all come from what I really love – surfing and beer. I just want people to feel that relaxed, summer vibe.” says brewer and owner Dan Wright who created the idea of Swell Brewing Co after a two-year surfing and snowboarding odyssey. Drop in for a pint of premium craft beer from the 16-tap bar or some delicious locally sourced pub grub while kicking back on their lush lawns overlooking the surrounding vineyards.
Top pick: Swell Brewing Co Stout. a foreign export stout style that has great depth of flavour with coffee, and dark chocolate notes coupled with a hint of coconut. It has lingering bitterness yet is smooth as silk.
Find it: 168 Olivers Road, McLaren Vale
3. GOODIESON BREWERY
Known and loved by the locals, Goodieson Brewery is a top spot to while away a few hours if you’re visiting McLaren Vale. Jeff Goodieson brews traditional style beers with a European influence – think pale ale, pilsner, brown and red ales and stouts, to name a few. The brewery and tasting room are housed in a cosy tin shed with a nice sunny outdoor area offering sweeping views over neighbouring vineyards. Tasting paddles are available.
Top pick: The chocolate stout… because who doesn’t love a stout in winter? And let's be honest chocolate.
Find it: 194 Sand Road, McLaren Vale
4. VALE BREWING
Best known for its signature ‘Vale Ale’, the beers at Vale Brewery are definitely worth sampling. Their core range includes a lager, amber and Indian Pale Ale, as well as a refreshing German-style pilsner called the ‘Knee Slapper’ and a crisp, fruity ‘bright ale’ brimming with fresh citrus and biscuity malt flavours.
Top pick: The Mid Coast Bright Ale, at 3.5% ABV, it’s still packed with flavour.
Find it: At Red Poles, 190 McMurtrie Rd, McLaren Vale
You may think of this place as a winery, and you wouldn’t be wrong. But what you may not realise about Ekhidna Wines is that they also brew their own range of beers, too. It’s all preservative-free, kettle-cooked and sterile-filtered, which means it’s free of lees and yeast hulls. There’s a range of styles on offer here, including a ginger beer, an India Pale Ale, a dark ale and even an apple cider.
Top pick: The ginger/wheat beer, which is a nice, balanced blend of the two styles.
Find it: 67 Branson Rd, McLaren Vale
6. MCLAREN VALE DISTILLERY
If whiskey’s your thing, look no further than McLaren Vale Distillery. Founded by former CEO of the famed Lark Distillery in Tasmania, the team here takes whiskey incredibly seriously – and the result is worth the effort. Made with top-quality South Australian barley and matured in oak barrels which have held some of the world’s finest wines, this is whiskey you’ll want to savour. And luckily, the picturesque valley views here allow you to do just that.
Top pick: Bloodstone Whiskey – it’s bloody good.
Find it: 725 Chapel Hill Road, Blewitt Springs
7. SETTLERS SPIRITS
A cellar door for spirits - where do we sign up?- The ‘distillery door’ at Settlers Spirits in McLaren Vale offers an excellent range of experiences, including gin and cheese pairings, spirit tastings served with garnishes and tonic, cocktails (espresso martini, anyone?) and group tastings. Oh, and the views over neighbouring Maximus Wines,local vineyards and Willunga Hills make that gin taste extra-delicious.
Top pick: The pomegranate gin, which is infused with vanilla pods to add a slight sweetness.
Find it: 97 Foggo Rd, McLaren Vale
8. SMILING SAMOYED
When you first arrive at Smiling Samoyed in the gorgeous town of Myponga, don’t be surprised if you’re welcomed by – well, a smiling Samoyed! Her name’s Hoppy, and she takes her role as chief door greeter rather seriously. This brewery’s not just about the fluffy white mascots though; there are some excellent beers available here, plus a range of tasty beer-food including wood-fired pizzas, falafel, arancini balls and chicken wings.
Top pick: The 12 Paws Pale Ale, cause it’s fruity, floral, and wickedly hoppy.
Find it: Hansen Street, Myponga
9. FORKTREE BREWING
Located in a converted old shearing shed on owner Ben Hatcher's family farm, Forktree Brewing sits perfectly at the top of the hill overlooking panoramic views all the way to the ocean and Cape Jervis. While retaining the character of the original shearing shed, owner (and brewer) Ben has pulled-off an impressive fit out adding an 18m long deck, huge windows and even re-laying all of the old floorboards. The bar selection features their own locally brewed beers alongside other SA craft beers, Fleurieu wines and food menu with a twist.
Top pick: Sunset Red Ale. A 6% medium to full bodied red ale that features a solid malt backbone and some citrus tones from the hop varieties used. Yes please!
Find it: 935 Forktree Road, Carrickalinga
10. SHIFTY LIZARD BREWING CO
Contrary to its name, this tiny hole-in-the wall taphouse in Willunga is far from shifty. In fact, the crew here are friendly, down to earth and passionate about craft beer, which is understandable given their philosophy is all about “brewing with you and your mates in mind.” So pull up a stool and order yourself a cold one, and make sure you get any beer related questions off your chest ‘cause there’s a good chance that the guy who’s pouring your beer here is the guy that brewed it.
Top pick: Stouty McStoutFace. Need we say more?
Find it: 33 High Street, Willunga
11. SOUTH COAST BREWING CO
These are the new kids on the block – so fresh that their doors literally only opened late in June 2018. Based in Willunga, this small operation is run by three south coast local lads who quit their various day jobs as winemakers and engineers to start their own microbrewery and “pay homage to some of the finest coastline this country has to offer.” So if you’re heading to Willunga be sure to swing by for a pint, otherwise there’s cider and wine on offer for the non-beer drinkers.
Top pick: The Maslin’s Red Ale, which is a tribute to Australia’s first official unclad beach and a reminder to apply sunscreen to all exposed areas!
Find it: Unit 1/11 Jay Drive, Willunga
12. ROCHFORT DISTILLERY
Described as a “world-class whisky bar and lounge with 200-seat restaurant licence attached to it” by owner John Rochfort, Rochfort Distillery is the luxurious new spot to kick back on a leather lounge and indulge in sipping the finest of whisky. If you fancy learning all about the art of whisky-making then book into one of their distillery tours or master-classes for an immersive experience hosted by some of the best in the game.
Top pick: Single cask single malt fortified Verdelho at cask strength - "stewed fruit heaven, smothered in caramel". Oh. so. smooth.
Find it: 935 Forktree Road, Carrickalinga
13. FLEURIEU DISTILLERY
Formerly the Steam Exchange Brewery and perched on the banks of the Murray River at the Goolwa Foreshore, the Fleurieu Distillery is definitely one to add to your list. According to head distiller Gareth Andrews, the coastal weather conditions at Goolwa are ideal for maturing whiskey because of its fresh sea breezes and mild summers. Their hand-crafted whiskies sell like hot cakes, so they must be doing something right!
Top pick: River's End single malt whisky, cause it’s won a zillion gold medals and is epic.
Find it: 1 Cutting Road, Goolwa
14. MEECHI BREWING COMPANY
Meechi Brewing Company in Langhorne Creek was born from the team’s equal love of winemaking and passion for a cleansing ale. They decided that “every wine region needs a beer label”, so the famed wine region of Langhorne Creek was the perfect place to set up shop. And if you’re wondering where the name came from, ‘Meechi’ is the Aboriginal name for the River Bremer which flows through Langhorne Creek then eventually into Lake Alexandrina.
Top pick: The lager, coz it’s super refreshing.
Find it: At The Winehouse - 1509 Langhorne Creek Rd, Langhorne Creek
The Fleurieu Peninsula really is the place to be (and taste your way around), even if you aren't a fan of wine. Don't forget, lots of bars and pubs offer an excellent range of local craft beers as well, many of which are on tap.
For those hoping to squeeze a few locations in to one day, jump on a tour with Brew Bus SA!