Pikes Beer Company

The Pike family's story begins a long time ago; indeed, the brewery’s foundations were laid long before any of us were even born. Theirs is a tale of long distance ocean travel, all in the hope of starting life anew in Australia and creating a long lasting legacy.

It all began in 1878, when a 41-year-old Henry Pike arrived in South Australia from Dorset, England, aboard a ship called the Oaklands. A jack of all trades, he soon found work as a carpenter, a joiner, a builder and even an undertaker, a career that ultimately saw him assisting with the expansion of the Johnston brewery at Oakbank in the Adelaide Hills.

Prior to arriving in Australia, Henry had learnt about brewing from his mother, Emma, when he was just a boy, as she believed it would be handy skill later in life. And, when he first attempted a few hobby batches, he enjoyed instant success; the beer was so popular, in fact, that he was persuaded to make more. So he did, resulting in the launch of the "Dorset" Brewery.

In 1885, Henry and his wife Emma bought land on Elizabeth Street in Oakbank, which would later be used to house his brewery. The same year, the company name H Pike and Son (the son being Walter Pike) was made official. The brewhouse arrived the following year and between the years 1886 and 1900 the brewery continued to expand, with additional houses built and more land purchased.

Ale was delivered throughout the area via a pony drawn cart. A five-gallon keg would cost seven shillings and sixpence, a dozen ales four shillings – five for the fully matured ale. The brewery continued to be an integral part of the area for many years and the Pikes name was so successful they started buying hotels at which to serve their beer: Duke of York, Crafers Hotel, Hahndorf Arms, Belair Hotel and the Railway Hotel to name just a few.

As time went on, the company passed from generation to generation until 1973, when the brewery was sold at auction and promptly went out of business. By then the Pikes name had found its way into the wine industry through fourth generation Australian Edgar Pike, who had established himself as a vineyard manager and private grape grower. Together with his two sons Neil and Andrew, and Andrew's wife Cathy, he launched Pike’s Wines in 1984 in the Polish Hill River region of the Clare Valley.

It wasn’t too long – at least in the grand scale of the Pike family’s brewing legacy – before it started all over again. In 1996, the family began having beer produced for them under contract before, in late 2014, they brought it back to the Clare Valley where they’d installed a brand new 20 hectolitre Italian brewhouse.

Joining the brewhouse and fermenters was Bradley Nolen, previously a brewer at Gage Roads in Western Australia and at Mildura Brewery. The family’s brewing tradition continues firsthand, however, with Alister Pike on board as Bradley’s assistant brewer.

The pair oversees production of five year round releases and seasonal brews that pop up throughout the year. The idea for the Sparkling Ale and Genuine Stout dates back to Henry’s time at the brewery while the recipe for the Tonic Ale is also a relic from the past, brewed with orange peel, coriander, ginger and cinchona bark from South America.

You can sample them all at the source, with the brewery operating a cellar door operation that's open seven days a week and allows you to delve deeper into the family's unique history. Set on the vine covered plains of the Polish Hill River, it's a resurrection of a brewing tradition nearly 140 years old that ensures the legacy of Henry Pike and his mother lives on.

Matt King

Name
Pikes Beer Company
Address

233 Polish Hill River Road
Polish Hill River
SA 5453

Phone
(08) 8843 4370
Website
Hours

10am to 4pm

Tours

Tours by appointment only

Current Crafty Cabal offers

10% Off All Take Home Purchases

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Pikes Beer Company Regulars

Pikes Tonic Ale

Now here's something rather different. Back during Pikes' original lifespan, the business not only produced more traditional ales and stouts but also had a Tonic Ale doing the rounds in the early 1900s. Apparently, it was sold around SA as a "Non-intoxicating Healthy Drink". And now the new generation has brought the drink back using the original recipe. It's a recipe that features all Aussie malt and hops and much else besides: fresh orange and lemon peel, ginger, coriander and cinchona… Read more
Style
Tonic Ale
Strength
2.3%

Pikes Genuine Stout

A stout was among the beers produced by the original Pikes back in the 19th century and it was one of the beers their descendants first brought back to life when they reanimated the brewing company, even before they brought brewing back in house in the Clare Valley. Their Genuine Stout is what we'd tag a "drinking stout". Relatively light in body and more cola-coloured than pitch black, it shares some characteristics with dark ales more than it does with some of the heftier stouts doing… Read more
Style
Stout
Strength
5.2%

Pikes Pale Ale

Tapped July 8th, 2016
The Pale Ale is the baby of the Pikes core range, entering the frame in the middle of 2016 and slotting in somewhere between the Sparkling Ale and the Stout, with the gap between the stout and the sparkling felt to be too vast, style wise, hence the decision to add a pale ale. It's an all Australian drop, combining local hops Galaxy and Melba with a variety of specialty malts used to obtain the caramel hue. In the glass, the pale has a soft burnt amber colour with a gentle carbonation on the pour.… Read more
Style
Pale Ale
Strength
4.0%
Stockists

Pikes Brewery

Pikes Pilsener

It's said that it takes a lot of beer to make a good wine. And, as a family that should be able to confirm such a claim better than most, given their involvement in both worlds in South Australia, we imagine that this sort of beer would be one to quench many a thirst at the end of a long day during vintage. It's about as traditional a European inspired pilsener as you could wish for: the hops are gently floral and herbal, the malt presents tight and crisp and the bitterness is there to cleanse the… Read more
Style
Pale Lager
Strength
4.5%

Pikes Beer Company Specials

Pikes Beer Company 'Merica American Pale Ale

Tapped October 20th, 2017
Pikes Beer Company set off for the States for their 2017 spring seasonal, a 5.5 percent ABV American pale ale aptly named ‘Merica. Loaded to the brim with US hops Cascade, Chinook, Mosaic and – one of the Pikes brewing team's personal favourites – Eureka, with Munich, wheat and a little roasted malt joining the pale malt to add texture, colour and some biscuity flavour. The hops create a citrus bouquet – lemon, orange and grapefruit – mixed with a dash of pine and resin in a beer that… Read more
Style
American Pale Ale
Strength
5.5%
Stockists

Keg only release – just 30 of them heading across the country

Pikes Beer Company Double Barrel Black IPA

Tapped June 9th, 2017
Pikes’ first three GABS beers have consisted of a 2.3 percent ABV tonic ale, an 8 percent root beer and now a 7 percent heavily hopped black IPA that was aged in two different barrels. It's fair to say these beers have shown an interesting progression over the years. Bradley Nolen and Alister Pike are lucky in the sense they have quite a few used wine barrels to experiment with as the brewery lives side-by-side with the family-owned on site winery. As such, the Double Barrel started as a black… Read more
Style
Barrel Aged Black IPA
Strength
7.0%

Pikes Beer Company Cherry Kriek (2015)

Tapped December 21st, 2016
The planning and preparation for the Pikes 2015 vintage Cherry Kriek began in late 2015. A whole year later and the beer was finally ready to drink, meaning a lot of effort and love went into this vintage – and it was totally worth it. The base beer was brewed as a strong ale that used a Belgian yeast for the first ferment. The wort was then soured using lactobacillus and pumped into Pikes Wines barrels that had formerly housed Shiraz and Grenache. The Pikes family then enlisted the help of their… Read more
Style
Cherry Kriek
Strength
7.0%

Pikes Sparkling Ale (2016 onwards)

Tapped October 22nd, 2016
The original Sparkling Ales was one of the beers in the Pikes lineup said to enjoy a heritage stretching right back to the very earliest days of Henry Pike's brewing in South Australia in the late 1800s. And you could easily pick out similarities with another rather well known Sparkling Ale from SA that also dates from the 19th century. But, in 2016, with the arrival of the new Pikes Pale Ale, the decision was taken to give it a new identity. The beer itself was considered somewhat confused stylistically… Read more
Style
Sparkling Ale
Strength
5.2%
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