South Australia's Next Wave Pt I

September 7, 2016, by Matt King

South Australia's Next Wave Pt I

South Australia has witnessed a steady stream of new breweries and brewing companies open in recent years, while some of those a little older in the tooth have been evolving too. It sometimes feels as if there is a new one popping up in a backyard garage, a side street or a remote rural location every second month. 

And this expansion of the state's scene shows little sign of slowing. At time of writing, we were aware of six new operations in the pipeline, all planning to launch between the middle of 2016 and early 2017. 

The people behind this new wave of nano and microbreweries come from a variety of backgrounds: some are homebrewing champions, others have been influenced by time in Germany or have taken inspiration from love of gaming, while there's a well-travelled former Stone & Wood and Holgate brewer in the mix too. 

The surge of interest in small scale brewing in SA reflects the wider craft beer boom that has swept Australia but also owes a debt to the brewing programs offered at the TAFE institute in SA. Every year, a large contingent of hopeful brewers arrives in Adelaide to undertake brewing courses, hoping to gain the knowledge they need to start creating and selling beer under the guidance of Stephen Nelsen, the head lecturer at SA’s Regency TAFE who has been instrumental in assisting the likes of Brewboys, Clare Valley Brewing and Woolshed get off the ground. 

Here, over two days, we meet those hoping to join them in the world of commercial brewing.

Western Ridge Brewing

Left to right: Olexij Straschko, David Henderson, Alex Marschall and Tim Hardy of Western Ridge.

Who are you?

Western Ridge Brewing & Distilling Company Pty Ltd. We are a brewing collective owned and operated by David Henderson, Olexij Straschko, Alex Marschall and Tim Hardy.  

The brewery was born in a shed in Greenock, SA, on the Western Ridge of the Barossa Valley. The key inspiration for our brewery is our old fashioned, whole ingredients focused approach to brewing. 

The "Distilling" part speaks to our long term aspirations and will either prove to be brilliantly foresighted or a permanent monument to overreaching. We will initially be brewing in Angaston, using Rehn Bier’s brewery and won’t launch with a cellar door.

What is your brewing background?

We are all homebrewers and most of us grow hops and some of us have even hand malted our barley.  David actually started brewing back in '89 at university the same year the youngest of us was born!  Between us, we average a few thousand litres of homebrew production each year that is dispensed from several home taps, numerous stubbies and the occasional champagne bottle depending on our various setups.  

About four years ago, David also decided he wanted to become a Master Brewer and set about adding some book learning to his practical experience. 

We are all passionate about real beer and the brewers who make it; we wanted to build a business that we loved so we could share our craft and find the boundaries of the possible. As Olexij says, we don’t want to wake up to find we are the old men who didn’t give it a go. Besides, we figured we didn’t need our money anyway.

What sort of beer do you like to make / drink and what will your core range look like?

Between the four of us, the answer is: "All of it." 

We like to make beer that started as whole ingredients in our brewhouse; no powdered, refined or processed adjuncts. We love brews with a story, like Accidental Dark Ale, which was born when we completely @#%$ed up the mashing for a stout trial. We want people to be able to talk about the beer or laugh at the yarn as they drink it.

We have the better part of a dozen good recipes and another handful in development. Since there are four brewers in charge, odds are you will see at least four in our core range. We are still waiting on our producer's license and will be starting very small scale with contract brews, so expect to see some less traditional beers targeted at single taps in the early days. 

Some rare treats like actual lagering, rye, peat and oak are likely to be in our early offerings, along with a friendly and well hopped APA.  

Anything else we should know?

We love the craft beer industry and the great, supportive network of people within it. We really plan to focus on the brewer over the brewery, connecting drinkers with the person who brews each beer and their story behind it. Our company constitution even allows for owners to take their own recipes with them if they sell out of the company!

Shifty Lizard

Who are you?

I’m Lee Stone and I’m the Head Beer Maker Man at Shifty Lizard Brewing Co. We are located in Old Noarlunga. The story behind our brewery name is certainly not a normal one and really has nothing to do with beer or even brewing it for that matter. 

Back when I was in the UK and Call of Duty was the big craze, I had to try and come up with an online username. "Captain Awesome" and "Lee The Great" were taken, so after a few more attempts at ridiculous names that fed my huge ego, I finally found Shifty Lizard and decided to settle on that. 

So, years later after a brew session, I was trying to think of cool brewery names and realised that there are dozens of breweries around the world with Stone in their names and everything else I came up with sounded like something off a bad music album. I decided to have a game of Call of Duty. After ten minutes of being killed numerous times in free for all mode I realised that the perfect name was right there in front of me… 

What is your brewing background?

Between 2006 and 2014 I lived in the United Kingdom and was involved in the drinks dispense industry; carrying out installations in bars, clubs and restaurants all round the UK. I have worked on behalf of four of the UK’s leading breweries, such as Heineken UK, Carlsberg UK, AB InBev and Coors UK, as well as the smaller craft breweries. 

I’ve been involved in a number of the UK’s largest festivals such as Hyde Park Festival and Reading Festival and completed a variety of high profile installations including the Tri Nations Rugby and the London 2012 Olympic Games. During this time, I did a lot of home brewing and tried to mimic some of the best beers around the UK. 

Lee Stone (left) and Danny Strapps of Shifty Lizard.

It wasn’t until I returned home to Adelaide that I started to take it more seriously as I could see that Australia was only at the beginning of the craft beer boom. So, for the past two years, I’ve been working hard developing my recipes, testing these beers on friends and family. 

What sort of beer do you like to make / drink and what will your core range look like?

I’m a guy that likes to appreciate all types of beer and will be happy to sample almost anything you put under my nose, but my favourite type of beer would have to be a good hoppy IPA and during winter you’ll probably find my fridge full of dark ales and stouts! We want our core range to have a nice, hoppy IPA for those hop heads out there, a fruity pale ale for those summer days around the BBQ and, shortly after we release them, we hope to include a session ale for those that have to drive but don't want to miss out on the great flavours their mates are enjoying.

NB Keep an eye on Shifty Lizard's social media channels – linked here – for a forthcoming public campaign to help make the project reality.

Molly Rose Brewing

Nic Sandery of Molly Rose. Photo copyright Amanda Santamaria.

Who are you?

I am Nic Sandery and my brewery is Molly Rose Brewing. We are a startup brewery based in Adelaide. The name is inspired by my two grandmothers: Molly and Rose. They were both amazingly strong women who managed to overcome some pretty difficult times whilst remaining kind, welcoming, hospitable and open-minded. These are all traits that we hope Molly Rose Brewing will share. 

As a startup we do not yet have a location, however we hope to have some friends help us out by letting us use some extra capacity to make some beer before the end of the year. 

What is your brewing background?

I got my first gig as a packaging brewer at Little Creatures in Perth while I was studying a Graduate Diploma in Brewing at Edith Cowan Uni. I then spent a few years in Byron Bay with Stone & Wood, both at their Byron brewery and the new one in Murwillumbah. After leaving Stone & Wood, I went down to Holgate Brewhouse in Woodend, which is where I was, until I left to take Molly Rose Brewing on tour. 

I have always loved great food and drink and growing up in SA we were really spoiled for choice. I learnt to cook from a young age and worked in hospitality to get me through my science degree. Opening a brewery is really a way to combine my passions of food, drink, hospitality and science into one job I love to do and one that challenges me every day.

What sort of beer do you like to make / drink and what will your core range look like?

Nic's research tour for Molly Rose took him, among other places, to explore Japan's beer culture.

My key influences definitely come from the breweries I have worked for. These guys make great Australian interpretations of new and old styles but all put a huge emphasis on balanced and drinkable beers.  

I do have a weakness for Belgian beers. The first of my core range will hopefully be launched later this year. It is a hybrid style of a few beers that really inspired me on my trip around the world. The rest of my core range will come when the brewery is complete and we launch them all in cans.

Anything else we should know?

If anyone is interested in hearing a little more about how excited I was travelling around the world investigating beer cultures and traditions, jump across to You can also see a couple of beer travel articles on Crafty Pint that came from my trip: Japan and North Carolina.

Look out for part two of Matt's new brewery roundup next week. If you're part of a young or forthcoming brewing company, feel free to get in touch.

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