A short drive from the buzz of Adelaide, via the windy stretches of Port Willunga Beach and surrounds, you can find yourself in the tiny town of Myponga. Located on the popular Fleurieu Peninsula, Myponga was settled in 1840 by a family from the South West of England. Today, there are not many more than 600 people that call it home, but what the town lacks in size it makes up for in personality.
Smiling Samoyed Brewery is at the heart of it and the driving force for much of the tourism. Weekends see people venture into the brewery to stock up on award-winning beers, munch on wood-fired pizzas and take in the view of the Myponga reserve backing the brewpub. The rejuvenated brewery is owned by dog and beer lovers Kate Henning and Simon Dunstone, who have been local to the area since deciding to turn their backs on careers in litigation and software development respectively to make a living brewing beer instead.
The couple took over the site in November 2012 and later renamed it Smiling Samoyed. The name, surprisingly enough, came from their love of a certain breed of dog; when we first visited, we got to meet three friendly Samoyeds. While they've passed away, there are still furry friends awaiting you in the shape of Hoppy and Kent. They live up to their description, interacting with the guests and proving a real favourite with kids as parents line up one of the brewery's tasting paddles.
This all grain brewery uses a 12 hectolitre brewhouse to craft four core beers and many different seasonal and limited release beers. Kolsch, 12 Paws Pale Ale, an IPA, and a Dark Ale make up their regular collection while a Saison, Chocolate Orange Stout ‘Shamouti’, chilli beer, Poppet Brown Ale, an ESB, a stout and a Harvest Ale (and more) have appeared as limited releases. Since Simon and Kate commenced brewing in August 2013, the beers have enjoyed success, not least at the 2015, 2016 and 2019 Royal Adelaide Beer Shows where the Dark Ale won Most Outstanding Beer in Show, and in 2018 when they collected a Champion Brewery title.
As well as the brewhouse, Smiling Samoyed also boasts a bottling line, a 50L pilot system, three single batch fermenters and seven double batch fermenters, making for an extremely full brew shed. The beers can be found throughout South Australia, but the best place to enjoy their beers is at the brewpub, where their home is liberally adorned with beer cans and bottles and other paraphernalia; it's evident that Simon and Kate are somewhat craft beer crazy.
The restaurant itself is open seven days a week for lunch (closed only on Good Friday and Christmas Day). It's a good idea to book in advance as most weekends are packed to capacity. Drinkers can kick back with a beer inside and admire the crafty decor or take a tasting paddle out back to take in the views and maybe even spot a few kangaroos. You'll find beer events throughout the year too. Functions are welcome at the brewery bar with the venue regularly hosting weddings, birthdays, engagements, corporate events and birthday parties.
Kate and Simon are proud of their local area and feature other local products in the bar including fresh vegetables, cheese and wine. The workforce at the brewery has been constantly expanding since they commenced brewing in August 2013 to allow the couple to focus more of their attention on the most important job at a brewery: brewing.
As the name suggests, Smiling Samoyed is an extremely welcoming place, with smiles on the faces of owners, customers and dogs alike. Having created a venue that reflects their beer crazy personalities and seen the crowds flock for their fine beers, Kate and Simon have not only proven the wisdom of their career change but also provided a boost to tourism in this corner of South Australia, not to mention adding colour to the state's thriving beer scene too. Woof!
Photos not watermarked with The Crafty Pint taken by Julia Henning, Imagenel Productions.