Vale Brewing

The Barossa Valley is best known for its shiraz, the Coonawarra region for its cabernet sauvignon, Clare Valley for its riesling and the Adelaide Hills for sauvignon blanc and pinot noir varieties. However, in McLaren Vale, while there is a long association with wine, there's a strong and growing argument to be made for its brewing industry.

At the heart of the region's beer scene is Vale, an operation that's been through more stages of evolution than most. Starting out as a contract operation with the name McLaren Vale Beer Company, it grew fast on the back of its Vale Ale (an early winner of the annual Hottest 100 Aussie Craft Beers poll), to the point in 2012 where the construction of a 35-hectolitre brewhouse in Willunga was required.

With brewing in their own hands, their one beer soon became four, with a lager, IPA and dark lager (later changed to amber in 2015) joining the core range, alongside a few experimental brews under the EXP appearing periodically. Over time, Knee Slapper Pilsner and the Mid Coast Bright Ale joined the ranks to solidify the regular range.

The brewery became Vale Brewing in 2015 when brothers Tim, Pete and Michael Collin took back a majority share in the company before, in October 2017, they put what had become one of the largest independently-owned brewing companies in the state on the market. In the middle of a flurry of brewery acquisitions, family-owned South Australia beverage company Bickford's, swooped in, adding Vale and sibling brands Fox Hat and Dr Pilkington's Miracle Cider to their family of brands.

Bickford's had started out in a small apothecary shop in 1839, selling cordials, water, juices and syrups, but more recently had created a portfolio of cider, vodka, wine and spirit brands under the Vok Beverages banner. This led to a few tweaks of the core lineup, most notably with the addition of the 4.2 percent ABV Tropic Ale.

One thing that has remained consistent, however, is the presence of Jeff Wright. He has been head brewer from the off and continues to lead the brewing team, overseeing recipe development and the day-to-day running of both Vale and Fox Hat as they continue to fly the flag for South Australian beer.

Matt King

Name
Vale Brewing
Address

252 Blewitt Springs Road
McLaren Flat
SA 5171

Phone
1800 896 080
Open Hours

Mon to Fri: 9am to 5pm

Tours

Tastings available through Beresford Tasting Room

This is a directory listing. To find out more, head here

Vale Brewing Regulars

Vale Brewing Mid Coast

Tapped November 10th, 2016
Vale Brewing pays homage to the beaches that surround their Willunga based brewery with a mid-strength bright ale called Mid Coast. Similar to the action on the local nudist beach, Maslin Beach, the beer has been stripped right back, at least in terms of booze, that is. Registering just 3.5 percent ABV, head brewer Jeff Wright believes it is perfect for a stinking hot day out at the beach. Canned in a summery bright blue tin, it's also designed to be easy to throw a six-pack into a beach bag. An… Read more
Style
Summer Ale
ABV
3.5%
Bitterness
30 IBU

Vale Brewing Amber

Tapped October 13th, 2015
Having brought brewery ownership back into the family and rebranded the business as Vale Brewing, the brothers running the former McLaren Vale Beer Company set about renaming and repackaging one of their beers too. The DRK – or dark lager – became the Amber, and described on the label as an "American amber lager". What's inside didn't changed, which is a good thing as it's always been the pick of Vale's core range here at Crafty Towers. Presumably, the "American" tag refers… Read more
Style
Dark Lager

Vale IPA

Then the IPA first appeared, it represented quite a radical departure from what had come before under the Vale banner. Packing a powerful hop aroma that hits you well before the glass reaches your lips, its use of three big hop varieties - Australian Galaxy, NZ Nelson Sauvin and American Citra - gives the beer heaps of tropical, citrusy, passionfruit and piney notes. There are some caramel malt flavours in there, but they're really a bit part player brought along to give the hops a leg up. Surprisingly,… Read more
Style
IPA
ABV
5.5%
Bitterness
42 IBU

VALE/DRK – RETIRED

Why brew one lager when you can brew two? For their third release, Vale decided to follow their dry lager with a dark one inspired by the States. Utilising the Falconer's Flight hop blend more commonly found in hoppy pales and IPAs, it combines chocolate and cocoa malt flavours with fruity hop notes and a solid bitterness too. This beer has since been superseded by Amber.… Read more
Style
Dark Lager
ABV
4.5%
Bitterness
30 IBU

VALE/DRY - RETIRED

The second release from McLaren Vale and another one with its sights set firmly on the wavering commercial beer drinker. It's an unfiltered dry lager that keeps the bitterness firmly in check, uses a little wheat malt to give it a dry finish and uses noble German hops for a light floral nose.… Read more
Style
Lager
ABV
4.5%
Bitterness
18 IBU

Vale Ale

The beer with which the Vale project was launched (back when it was called McLaren Vale) - and for some years their only beer - is the epitome of a gateway beer, designed to entice drinkers away from the mainstream. An approachable Australian pale ale that combines light tropical and citrus fruit hop aromas with sweet malt flavours and a gentle bitterness, it clearly set out the brewing company's stall as one with mass appeal in mind.… Read more
Style
Australian Pale Ale
ABV
4.5%
Bitterness
28 IBU

Vale Lager

It's old meets new with this beer from Vale, with which the aim, according to head brewer Jeff Wright at launch time, was "to achieve is an Old World backbone with a traditional European lager body, but with the artful addition of New World hops." This has been done by using a mix of German Tettnang hops alongside Aussie and Kiwi varieties to create what he describes as "sweet malt characters ... balanced by the earthy spice, fresh citrus kick and floral aroma."… Read more
Style
Lager
ABV
4.5%
Bitterness
25 IBU

Vale Brewing Tropic Ale

Vale look to channel a sunny holiday vibe with their Tropic Ale, a 4.2 percent ABV, easy-drinking pale ale that kicks off the light side of their core range. Brewed with tropically fruity hops, Tropic Ale is designed for those times when you just need a beer: hot summer days, beach visits, when you've finished mowing the lawn, been on a run, well, you get the picture. Light yellow in colour, it transports the drinker to golden sandy beaches, where a combination of floral, tropical and stone fruit… Read more
Style
Summer Ale
ABV
4.2%

Vale Brewing Specials

Vale Brewing EXP #009: Pineapple Saison

Tapped November 12th, 2015
As sponsors of Adelaide's inaugural Cheesefest, Vale Brewing figured they should flex their muscles and create a new beer for the event. The result was a Pineapple Saison, the latest entry in their ever colourful EXP series of one-off, experimental brews. They'd been playing around with fruit additions to various saison brews on their pilot setup in Willunga, with the "fresh and acidic" pineapple juice one experiment that particularly took the brewers' fancy. With the Cheesefest over, kegs… Read more
Style
Pineapple Saison
ABV
5.9%
Bitterness
22 IBU
Stockists

NSW

Terrace on Kent

Hops & Craft

The Beach Club

Kirribilli Hotel

Rag and Famish

VIC

The Empress

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McLaren Vale VALE EXP #007

Tapped November 11th, 2014
Having hit 007 in their series of occasional experimental releases, the team at McLaren Vale really had no option but to enlist the spirit of Bond. Not only that, but they've snuck in a nod towards the Mike Myers Bond spoof Austin Powers too. In keeping with the Bond theme, the beer is called Goldfinger (and is thus a golden ale); with regards to the International Man of Mystery, the beer features Enigma, the new and set-for-stardom hop from Tassie's Hop Products Australia. According to head brewer… Read more
Style
Golden Ale
Stockists

Melbourne:

Robert Burns Hotel

Brunswick Mess Hall

Adelaide:

Kings Hotel

Archer Hotel

Hotel Wright Street

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McLaren Vale EXP 5: Faux Nero

Tapped June 17th, 2014
The cross-pollination / melding / bastardisation / whatever-you-like-to-call-it of beer styles shows little sign of abating. And if anything is likely to encourage brewers to indulge in a spot of jiggery-pokery in the brewery, it's the annual Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular in Melbourne with its requirement for more than 100 never-before-released beers. And thus it is that this year's GABS led McLaren Vale to conjure up a "very limited edition" white coffee stout. It's the sixth beer… Read more
Style
Coffee Stout
Stockists

NSW:

Union Hotel Newtown

The Australian Hotel

Kirribilli Hotel

Dove & Olive

Clock Hotel Surry Hills

Woolloomooloo Bay Hotel

VIC:

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McLaren Vale EXP 4

Tapped August 19th, 2013
There's a lot to be said for US-inspired brown ales. After all, what's not to like in a style that is based around ensuring there's lots of rich malt flavour and plenty of big hops joining in the party too? It's the style the brewing team at McLaren Vale has plumped for as the fourth release in its occasional EXP limited release, keg-only series. They've plumped for some pretty punchy American hop varieties too - Simcoe and newcomers El Dorado and Zythos - which have been pitted against five malts.… Read more
Style
Hoppy Brown
ABV
6.5%
Stockists

Vic stockists

Beer DeLuxe

Rainbow Hotel

Builders Arms Hotel

Steam Packet Hotel, Williamstown

Metropolitan Hotel, Nth Melb

Great Britain Hotel, Richmond

[Young & Jackson](/beer/bar/young-j

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McLaren Vale EXP 3

Tapped April 8th, 2013
It seems like they're having fun at McLaren Vale now their brewery is fully up and running (and set to develop into a venue for punters too). This, their third EXP (or experimental) release sees them going a little fruity and adding a little rhubarb into the mix. We say a little as the fruit is subtle rather than the dominant force in this take on the Belgian witbier style, which is a full-bodied, deeply cloudy and creamy affair. If anything, the more traditional witbier ingredients (coriander and… Read more
Style
Witbier with Rhubarb
ABV
5.5%
Stockists

In good beer bars nationwide

VALE/EXP1

Tapped June 20th, 2012
The first release in McLaren Vale's EXP series - AKA experimental - is an oatmeal stout given a shot of nitro for added creaminess. Borne of brewer Jeff Wright's experimentations, he says to expect "flavours of rich, bitter chocolate and roast coffee coming from the combination of seven malts" plus a "citrusy bitter finish" from the use of Cascade hops.… Read more
Style
Stout
ABV
4.8%
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