Ask well travelled Aussie beer lovers for their favourite craft beer bars and the chances are The Wheaty's going to feature high - if not first - on their list. Leading the way for better beer in Adelaide, it's run by avowed hopheads Jade, Emily and Liz, who have turned what was a rather shambolic "country pub in the city" when they took it over in 2003 into a true craft beer haven, spending three months renovating it and replacing the beer system themselves. Now you're likely to find Imperial Stouts and Double IPAs from Mikkeller and Rogue rubbing shoulders with new releases from the best Aussie micros plus one-off specials made specially for them by SA's growing band of craft brewers.
It has achieved its notoriety without having a food offering to speak of other than cheese plates (the kitchen has been coming "soonish" for seven years, so the local pizzeria delivers to the bar and they welcome food trucks at weekends). Instead, The Wheaty concentrates solely on the magic of malt - not only is there one of the best selections of beer in Australia over 12 taps, a hand pump and up to 200 bottles, the girls also have a thing for whiskies. And we're talking weird and wonderful whiskies: unusual releases from established distilleries, bottles from producers you've probably never heard of, malts from Australian microdistilleries, Swedish and Japanese whiskies, plus tastings led by visiting producers that regularly attract up to 80 guests.
On average, they tap between 20 to 30 different beers every week, often conducting themed Tap Takeovers, Brewery Showcases and the infamous '3 Way' comparative tastings: pouring the same beer through a regular tap, on the handpump and through the Glasshopper. As they put it: "Retro-fitting, retro-fixing, or retro-fucking as the case may be." Both the bottled beer lists and a 'live' Tap Beer list are available on the bar's website and its award-winning Wheaty app and its Android sibling.
In 2013, The Wheaty turned 10, marking it with the obligatory party but also their own beer. The Schwartzhopf - a hoppy, black pilsner - was brewed with Moo and Mountain Goat (the first two interstate breweries they "stalked' in their early days to supply them with beers). Since 2012, the venue has also held the annual Good Beer Wheaty festival. This spin off from Melbourne's Good Beer Week brings brewers from all over Australia and overseas to the venue for several days of tastings, live brews, masterclasses and good times. For an idea of what they get up to, just know that in 2013 they persuaded Italy's Birra del Borgo to brew a beer with anchovies...
If that's not enough to entice you to visit, there's also a small but lovingly curated wine list focusing on local winemakers and live music four nights a week. It's normally kept pretty chilled - think alt country / bluegrass - but don't be surprised if you walk in and find a balalaika ensemble giving it some love.
Before 2013 is out, The Wheaty should have its own brewery too, where Jade will be able to test out her own beery theories all year round. Just a kilometre or so from Adelaide's CBD, it's a must for any beer aficionado passing through - and a addiction for those that live there.
July - Font of Darkness: More than 40 dark beers on tap throughout the month
September - Fountain of Hoppiness: 40-plus hop monsters on tap throughout the month
May - Font of Tartness: a wild, sour and farmhouse showcase