Hop on – the ultimate Fleurieu craft beer trail

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By Melissa Keogh

Hop to it, beer lovers. South Australia’s Fleurieu Peninsula is the place to be, with a number of well-established brewers and newer, boutique operators calling the region home.

With its outstanding wines, white sandy beaches and alfresco cafés, the Fleurieu has long been appreciated for its delectable food and wine offerings, but it’s time to give the stouts, ales, and pilsners a pour.

So, grab a designated driver and buckle up. Head for McLaren Vale, the heart of brewery territory and further south into Willunga, before visiting a few watering holes on the outskirts and along the coast. Let the ultimate beer trail begin!

1. Victor’s Place
62 Victor Harbor Road, Old Noarlunga

This restaurant, cellar door and brewery is a three-in-one delight set in an old 1870s stone barn, rebuilt with rustic charm. If the sun is shining, head for the outdoor area with a pint in hand and enjoy the views overlooking the Onkaparinga Valley. As far as beer goes, the Sour Cherry Berliner Weisse is a relatively new release and worth a try, as are the rest of its range including the Pale Ale, India Pale Ale, Extra Special Bitter, Saison and Summer Session Ale.

Inside Victor’s Place.

2. Swell Brewing Co.
168 Olivers Road, McLaren Vale

This new brewery and taphouse is the newest kid on the block to join the gang of McLaren Vale’s fellow craft brewery hotspots. Swell Brewing Co.’s new McLaren Vale space is the project of winemaker Corrina Wright of Oliver’s Taranga and her brewer husband Dan Wright. Coastal inspirations and a love for surfing are evident in the brand’s name and overall style, with the brewery offering a selection of its own beers, as well as others, and complemented by classic beer-matching eats such as burgers, chicken wings and sweet potato chips.

Inside Swell’s new taphouse. Photo by Kate Elmes Photography.

3. Vale Brewing
Within the Beresford Tasting Pavilion at 252 Blewitt Springs Road, McLaren Flat.

You can find these guys within Beresford Estate (so it’ll please wine lovers) in McLaren Flat. Have a go at the $15 tasting of the refreshing and sessionable lagers including the Vale Mid Coast, Vale Ale, Vale Lager, Vale Knee Slapper and Vale IPA. Vale has a decade-long history of brewing in the region, starting with small run releases of its original Vale Ale before expanding the core range and growing into a craft beer label well-recognised on SA shelves.

Cheese and beer among the vines at Beresford Estate.

4. Goodieson Brewery
194 Sand Road, McLaren Vale

Family owned and operated Goodieson Brewery is run by Jeff and Mary Goodieson whose property overlooks a tree-lined creek, vineyards and the valley. They’re serious about beer, with the pale ale, pilsner, wheat beer, brown ale, red ale, Maiblock, Christmas ale, autumn ale and stout on offer (although some of these are seasonal styles and have limited availability). Feel free to bring your own picnic snacks and nibbles to enjoy in the outdoor space overlooking the big beautiful gum trees and vineyards.

A beautiful setting on a sunny day.

5. Ekhidna
67 Branson Road, McLaren Vale

This cellar door features beers, ciders and wine from winemaker Matt Rechner. Ekhidna’s traditional Aussie ginger beer is highly sought after, with its strong ginger flavour, hit of spice and hint of sweetness. A restaurant is also on site, offering share plates, heartier mains, and desserts for those who need it. A great all-round experience that will tick boxes not only for beer lovers, but wine lovers, foodies and those partial to a crisp cider too.

Try the beer paddle at Ekhidna.

6. South Coast Brewing Co.
1/11 Jay Drive, Willunga

Beers and beaches – the perfect combination. South Coast Brewing Co. recognises this ideal match and brews its beers with the coast in mind. Three blokes Scott, Brett and Mark are behind this independent operation, with a line of Southern Session Ale a crisp, summery beer that’s almost too easy to drink, the Porties Pale Ale, named after Port Noarlunga, and the Maslin’s Red Ale, named after Australia’s first nudie beach. There’s also the Butter Sou’Westerly, a dry hopped brew that pays homage to winter time’s bitter, cold winds, and the Earl of Seaford Bitter, a delight for true beer appreciators.

The South Coast Brewing Co. trio. Photo sourced from Facebook.

7. Shifty Lizard
33 High Street, Willunga

A relatively new kid on the block, Shifty Lizard owners Lee and Danny opened this new venture in an old butcher’s shop in Willunga about a year ago. The beer bottle and can labels alone are impressive, featuring quirky characters and label names by the likes of the Bruce Lee-zard IPA, Stouty McStout Face and the Lizard’s Dinner. This microbrewery features outdoor dining nestled in the heart of Willunga. Definitely a spot for those who appreciate simple yet stylish interiors and something a little quirky.

8. Smiling Samoyed
Hansen Street, Myponga

Recognised not only for its beer, but the brewery’s two white and fluffy Samoyed dogs, Mia and Hoppy, who will greet you upon arrival. Smiling Samoyed, south west of Willunga, like many breweries is laid back in its style and offers much to look at with small, rustic trinkets and memorabilia scattered throughout facility. Beer wise, the brewery offers both award-winning and limited release brews including the Poppet, Kolsch, Dark Ale, IPA and 12 Paws. Rumour has it that they’ve just re-released the popular Hop Bandit, but be quick because it won’t last long! Grazing plates feature local cheeses, smallgoods and other nibbles while wood oven pizzas, some smaller snacks, and desserts are also on offer.

The fluffy Samoyed dogs are a real crowd-puller.

9. Forktree Brewing
935 Forktree Road, Carrickalinga

With stunning views over the ocean, Forktree Brewing is housed in an old shearing shed – the perfect location for downing a beer, right?! The beers are currently contract brewed, but hopes are to one day have a brewery on site. The froths include the Sunrise Pale Ale, with its citrus and tropical fruit hop aroma, and the Sunset Ale, a fuller bodied, malt driven red ale. The food menu is simple yet satisfying, with burgers enjoying names such as The Ringer beef burger, the Roustabout lamb burger, the Flamin’ Galah chicken burger, the Squeezer pork burger, and the Guesser sweet potato and chickpea burger.

How’s that for a sunset?

10. Meechi Brewery Company
The Wine House, 1509 Langhorne Creek Road, Langhorne Creek

A little out of the way from the other Fleurieu breweries (but still within an hour or so’s drive) is Meechi Brewery Company in wine region Langhorne Creek. Meechi’s winemaker owners proudly launched this small-batch brewery from their backyard shed because “we think every wine region needs a beer label”, and we agree! They were the Creek’s first craft beer label and have been a perfect addition within The Wine House, a wine tasting and dining venue where you’ll also be able to crack open one of Meechi’s handcrafted beers. Meechi is an Aboriginal name for the Bremer River, which runs through the town and then into Lake Alexandrina.

Share your Fleurieu beer trail experience with us on Facebook or instagram by using the #ichoosesa hashtag!

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