There comes a point in life when we grow out of things; we grow too big, we expand upwards and outwards. For most of us, such expansion comes later in life, a seemingly inevitable by-product of ageing. Yet for one South Australian brewery, the expansion has come early, it's come fast, it's come almost constantly and it's showing no signs of slowing.
Within two years of opening the doors of its first venue in Mt Barker, Prancing Pony has undergone multiple stages of upward and outward growth. First the business engulfed as much of the industrial unit where it was launched as it could. And now it has moved to new, bigger pastures still in the Adelaide Hills but nearer to the tourist hub of Hahndorf.
The latest movements have been progressively in motion for 35 years now. According to Corinna Steeb, her husband and head brewer Frank Samson (pictured below right) has slowly been increasing the size of his fermenting capacity since he started home brewing three and a half decades ago. Starting off incredibly small like most home brewers, producing beer from a small 30 litre fermenter at home, his love for brewing great beer soon expanded to bigger rigs and he was happily banished to the back shed.
There came a time when Frank's passion for brewing could no longer be bottled up and they bought a small unit in an industrial estate in the Adelaide Hills. Their success was almost instantaneous, with up to 400 people walking through the doors and drinking their pints most weekends. Within six months of opening their first commercial brewery, they had to expand and buy the unit next door.
"We ran out of space, we never really expected it to get this big and eventually we had to take the plunge and move again to a much bigger space," explains Corinna.
And a much bigger space it is: before the latest move, visitors had one tasting table to crowd around and a few benches at which to sip and graze. Now, situated at 42 Mount Barker Road, the front of house is licensed for up to 120 people and Corinna says they can handle up to 300 for functions. As a result, this will be the last move for a long while now, as the new stable is big enough for further expansion and bigger tanks.
Community spirit is strong in the Adelaide Hills, everyone loves to support one another and Prancing Pony is a fine example of that. Every piece of bread, every burger and every currywurst is developed using all local ingredients and businesses.
"Our currywurst was passed back and forth from the butcher about five times to get it perfect," says Corinna. "It was too skinny and then not spicy enough but now it is perfect."
The prospects for 2015 look likely to make it an exciting year for the Prancing Pony Brewing Company, with many new plans in place. After they have settled in completely and started brewing again, the next step is to distribute their "fire-brewed" beers interstate.
The official opening of the Prancing Pony's new brewery is set for early March and attendees can expect a few surprises. Keep an eye out for details in the Crafty Pint Events Diary.
On our visit, hints were dropped about two brand new beers that will be released on the day and a celebrity who is set to officially open the new stable. As to who this celebrity will be, well, that is a secret Corinna was not yet ready to let go.
Matt "The Craft Beer King" King, responsible for words and pictures, can be found here.