In 2003, Jade Flavell, Emily Trott and Liz O’Dea embarked on a mission: to create a pub that served “No crap on tap”. They did it so well that the now iconic Wheatsheaf Hotel – or The Wheaty to friends – is known nationwide for its high calibre brews and top quality service. A visit (or three) is a must for every craft beer fan that ventures into South Australia’s capital, and it never disappoints.
Fast forward to 2014 and the trio decided it was time to expand their operation, finally build that long talked about brewery and give their many and dubious brewing theories a trundle. Thus The Wheaty Brewing Corps was born with the message: “After pouring everyone else’s excellent beers over the last eleven years, we figured it was time to start brewing our own – time to install our own stainless and start walking the walk.”
Of all the people stepping up from amateur to pro, Jade was lucky enough to have been given a taste of the good brewing life; at Wheaty events over the years she’d brewed with some of Australia and the world’s finest on her 50 litre home brew system – not to mention at a number of microbreweries around the country too. Now, with Dave Scicluna (assistant brewer), Laura Mirsch (technical adviser) and Rose Bartholomeusz (malt wrangler) at her side, she’s been going hog wild: before the brewery’s first birthday, they’d smashed out 44 different beers in 61 batches.
As for the 600 litre brewpub setup constructed out the back of The Wheaty, it’s made up of a brand new brewhouse and three single batch fermenters from Premier Stainless. They installed a time lapse camera to record the entire build, which you can watch here.
Core beers do not really exist at the Wheaty, instead they like to call them the "regulars" and the "not so regulars and one-offs", for which they provide possibly the most detailed breakdown of ingredients and processes online of any brewer in Australia. Among those brewed more often than others are Blood Oats – a hoppy oaty red ale, Team Australia – an IPA brewed with only Australian hops, Danger Zone – a hot pink raspberry Berliner Weisse, Black Lime Gose – a slightly salty and sour Gose, Thebby Bitter; nicknamed ‘The Best End’, Wheaty-Bix – a thick breakfast stout, and Corps Promise – a hoppy, spicy and bitter rye ale, one of a number of brews to feature Jade’s beloved rye.
One thing the bar has always done extremely well is interact with the worldwide craft beer community. On many occasions, you’ll walk into the front bar and find all 13 taps have been taken over by a guest brewer for the night. On others, you'll find a permanent bank of six rotating Wheaty brews matched stylistically as best as possible against the half dozen from the visiting brewer so guests can line them up in a side-by-side face-off. And, while brewers are in town, they'll usually team up with the Brewing Corps on a recipe and a brew.
Already, Jade and co have spooned (the Yeastie Boys’ term for collaborating) with the Yeastie Boys, Birra Del Borgo, Magic Rock, To Øl, Sixpoint, Mountain Goat, Lobethal Bierhaus, Beavertown, Victory, Mornington Peninsula, Gladfield Malt, Cavalier Brewing and Doctor’s Orders (who is in Adelaide so often he now has his own illuminated sign behind the bar). It’s a list that’s destined to keep growing too.
Just as with many of their spooning partners, they don’t take themselves too seriously. Beers tend to come with pun-inspired names, themselves often referring to lasting memories of past collaborations or in jokes they’re happy to share.
Also in the works are a laboratory that will allow the team to experiment even further, some casks and barrels for ageing, and more fermenting space – maybe even a sidestep into whisk(e)y too. Such enhancements and additions will give them even freer rein to take the philosophy that inhabits every nook, cranny and patron’s glass of The Wheaty further still: more sours; more bugs; more hops; more rye; more happy customers; more spooning. But, just as importantly, still “No crap on tap”.