The Yorke Peninsula is home to some amazing tourist destinations. Among them is the Copper Coast region – rich with historical sites, stunning beaches, gorgeous camping and hiking areas, and visited by around 400,000 people every year.
Not only is it a wonderful tourist destination – it is also home to one of the bountiful wheat and barley growing regions in the world. So it might come as a surprise that it's only in recent years that craft breweries have started popping up there.
The most recent operation to land on the Yorke Peninsula is Hedonbar, launched by husband and wife team Troy and Rayma Dennis (pictured above). They're set to open a larger production brewery and taproom in Kadina in late 2022 / early 2023 – right next door to the Copper Coast Visitors Centre, and thus perfectly situated to introduce locals and travellers to the copious food and drink options the region has to offer.
“The first task was to find ‘THAT’ location," Troy says.
"Being impressed with so many possible locations, we landed on the shores of the Copper Coast in late spring 2019. The place just felt right, so we did some homework to determine viability.
"Prior to embarking on this journey, we knew there was a lot of pre-work that had to be done if we were going to make this a reality. The first step was to get educated in brewing and practice, practice, practice.”
He was aided in this part of their plan by landing a spot on the brewing course at Tafe SA’s Regency Park campus, which offered hands-on experience brewing on a full-scale commercial microbrewery located on-site as he worked towards his Certificate III in Brewing.
While they continue to work on their brewery and venue, Troy is brewing on a 50-litre nano setup in the neighbouring town of Wallaroo and serving their beers at a number of local events and pop-up bars to give punters a taste of things to come.
“This enables us to brew the highest quality beers and market test them in parallel to working on the commercial foundation for the Hedonbar business," he says. "Having brewed over 80 unique craft beer recipes and achieving first place in the AABC Brewing Championship 2021 for our Schwarzbier in the Amber and Dark Lager category, the Pilot Nano Brewery has become an integral part of the Hedonbar story – and will continue to be used to pilot new beer recipes and ‘one keg wonders’ once the commercial microbrewery opens."
This writer has been lucky enough to try a few of the above-mentioned beers and they were indeed excellent. So, given we're sure locals will be looking forward to another brewery opening up in the area, we figured we'd invite Troy and Rayma to take part in our long-running Who Brews...? series.
HEDONBAR BREWING COMPANY
Who are you?
TROY: With over two decades of experience working in the Information Technology and Communications industry, I held a number of positions over the years, including head of technology for Asia and regional development manager. Over the course of my career, I managed and led technology teams and major projects for both Computershare and technology company Dimension Data.
My senior management experience provided me with the opportunity to work alongside and be mentored by Computershare's executive leadership team. These senior global roles provided me with the opportunity to live, work and travel Asia, Europe, North America, New Zealand and Australia – which of course incorporated experiencing some of the finest beers available in these parts of the world.
RAYMA: With more than 15 years’ professional services experience working in various roles, predominantly in the sales and markets and business administration space, I held roles in government and the private sector before spending ten years with KPMG in a number of positions across Melbourne, Hong Kong and London.
Over the course of my career, I managed the delivery of workshops and events in Australia and abroad – this included sales implementation workshops, regional strategy days, as well as numerous conferences, meetings and events.
Having travelled extensively and being married to Troy, it is no surprise that I developed a love of craft beer over the years. So much so that I suggested we start a brewery together.
Where do you brew?
Prior to opening the commercial microbrewery site and taproom in Kadina on the Copper Coast, brewing is performed on a comprehensive nano pilot brewery based on our property in Wallaroo. The pilot brewery is a 50 litre Braumeister-based all-grain brewing system, which includes SS Brewtech 65 Litre SS Unitanks, glycol chilling, RO water purification, and a cellar room for optimal temperature control.
Why do you brew?
For the love of craft beer...
Following extensive travel as part of our previous corporate careers, the core intention of Hedonbar is to showcase the amazing variety of craft beer styles that are available from all around the world, and to brew beers where ingredients are sourced locally.
Was there a beer or a moment that set you on the path to becoming a brewer?
Brewing was always a passion for Troy since his early twenties, however it wasn’t until 2019 whilst travelling around Australia, Rayma said: "Let’s open a craft brewery."
Troy, trying to hide his excitement at this possibility, softly replied: "OK."
What’s the inspiration behind the brewery name?
Whilst living in Hong Kong, we were in a small bar enjoying a craft beer brewed by a local brewery called Gweilo. Gweilo is a somewhat derogatory word the Chinese use to refer to European foreigners. It, however, has been embraced, mainly by expats, to describe themselves abroad.
On the label of this Gweilo beer, the brewing company, with "tongue in cheek", list out the alternative meanings for Gweilo, eg Foreigner, White Ghost, Hedonistic Barbarian…
When deciding upon a name for the brewery, Hedonistic Barbarian came up as an option, however it was too long for a name, so HedonBAR is the cutdown version. The meaning of hedonism is the pursuit of pleasure… enjoying a craft beer comes to mind.
What beer in your lineup best represents you and why?
There is no single beer that best represents Hedonbar. That said, some of our favorite beers that will likely constitute a core range are beers we keep coming back to and brewing multiple times to perfect. These beers are also the styles that customers are enjoying the most when we set up our mobile bar at markets and events in the lead-up to opening the microbrewery and taproom.
If you could have any person in the world join you on a brew day, who would it be, and why?
Mark Tremonti – in my humble opinion, this guy is one of the best guitar players on the planet and he has worked tirelessly to perfect his craft. Would love to hang out, brew and talk about our passion for music and beer.
If anyone drops in on brew day, what are they most likely to hear blasting from the speakers?
Hard rock: Alter Bridge, Mark Tremonti, Volbeat, Slash, Papa Roach, Stonesour, 5FDP… the list goes on.
There may also be some 90s or Y2K pop or R&B too, depending on who controls the playlist.
What beers are in your fridge right now?
Munich Helles, Vienna Lager, Sparkling Ale, Pale Ale, Raspberry Berliner Weisse, English Brown Ale, Black Forest Stout.
What would be your desert island beer of choice?
Which local beers have blown your mind in recent weeks?
Grunthal Brew Irish Red Ale on nitro, Double IPA and Stout. Smiling Samoyed’s Brown Ale. BentSpoke / Malt Shovel collaboration Extra Belgian Pale Ale. And chilli stout on nitro from The Wheaty (which, of course, inspired us to make our own version).
Is there a particular style, ingredient, or trend in beer you'd like to explore further?
Continuing to work with local ingredients from the Yorke Peninsula to perfect beers that distinctively showcase the local region.
Where can people find your beers?
We don’t currently have any packaged product. This is mostly due to our small-scale production at present and the fact that we have a focus on rotating and seasonal beers. For this reason they are currently only available at our pop-up style events and markets which we advertise on our social pages.
Once the commercial microbrewery and taproom is open, our beers will be available at the Hedonbar venue within the Copper Coast Tourism Centre just outside Kadina.
Where do you hope your brewery will be ten years from now
We hope the venue will become an iconic entertainment destination for the local region. When you think Hedonbar, it's great beer, great food, fantastic music and entertainment and something for everyone to do as Hedonbar will be located with the Copper Coast Visitors Centre, as well as Putt Putt, a play centre, miniature rail and The Farm Shed Museum.
We also would like to do small scale packaged product distribution for the local area.
Once open, you can visit Troy and Rayma to try Hedonbar's beers and experience their hospitality at the Copper Coast Tourism Centre, 50 Mines Road, Matta Flat.