When Al Turnbull was growing up, his dad warned him against following his grandfather into the pub business, or, as his father often put it: “becoming a drunk’s labourer”. Thankfully for South Australia’s beer lovers, the warning fell on deaf ears. First he dropped out of a degree course to work in pubs and then, when he decided to return to uni to study economics, it was with the long term goal of working out how to finance a move into the drinks industry. Finally, after a couple of decades working for banks in New York, London, Amsterdam and Eastern Europe – sampling each country’s beer culture with gusto – he returned to Australia to set up Lobethal Bierhaus in the Adelaide Hills with friend Phil Jones.
Since opening its doors in May 2007, the brewery has established a reputation that has seen its beers spread steadily from the onsite bar and restaurant to Adelaide’s better beer venues and, more recently, interstate. The range has steadily grown too, from four initial taps featuring a hefeweizen, US style pale ale, a porter and seasonals to a broad collection of regulars and seasonals ranging from a pilsner to a strong Belgian golden ale, all guided by an ethos that’s simply to brew beers the owners enjoy drinking and to hone those beers over time.
As for the brewery, when they found the location that fitted their plans, they were told it was a former tweed factory and once home to the Onkaparinga Woollen Company. Only when they carried out further research did they discover it was also the site of a brewery that was built in 1851 and operated for two decades. It turns out the Lobethal region continued to cultivate hops even when the brewery closed. Completing the picture, Al now lives in a converted hop kiln across the road from the brewery.
Phil has since left on amicable terms to follow other pursuits, leaving Al and partner Rosie Holmes at the helm. As well as pumping out beers on their 1,200l Newlands brewhouse, they run the bar and restaurant onsite, which features wines and food sourced from the artisanal producers of the thriving Adelaide Hills region (including killer buffalo wings) – and motorsport memorabilia from Al’s other passion. At the start of 2014, serious upgrades to the brewery were completed too, with the aim of giving Al even greater quality control over his beers.
You can work your way through them via sample paddles at the bar, take them home in bottles or even choose your favourite and pick up a two-litre growler, with Lobethal bring one of the first breweries in Australia to offer them for sale.
Lobethal Bierhaus Beers
Lobethal Bierhaus India Pale Al
We’re not sure what it is about South Australian brewers but they do like to play around with their beer names, You’ve got Beard and Brau’s dog obsession and the Lobethal boys inserting their names in where possible. Such as here, the India Pale Al, a recreation of the traditional British IPA rather than the more pungent US versions. Intensely hopped, this golden-copper ale with has a floral aroma, fruity ester flavours and a hint of marmalade bitterness.
Lobethal Bierhaus Hefeweizen
This take on the style that originated in Bavaria in southern Germany pours a deep golden, is ale, cloudy in appearance and boasts the strong, fruity banana and vanilla ester flavours typical of a hefe. The sort of beer that’s ideal for quenching a summer thirst.
Lobethal Bierhaus Bohemian Philsner
Another Lobethal beer to take its name from one of the founders, this cold fermented lager is based on the Czech style of pilsner. As such, you’ll find a moderate hop aroma and flavour with a bitter finish.
Style: Czech Pilsner
Lobethal Bierhaus Pale Ale
While the brewery’s IPA looks to the UK for inspiration, the Pale has its eyes turned to the States and their love of bigger, bolder hop characters. This copper-coloured ale uses American style hops to produce high hop bitterness, flavour and aroma.
Style: US Pale Ale
Lobethal Bierhaus Red Truck Porter
One of the first of Lobethal’s beers to find favour with drinkers outside SA, this is a multi-layered malt-led number. A dark reddish brown ale, it blends roasted malt flavours with chocolate, balanced by subtle hop aroma and bitterness. It’s based on the style originally developed in the 18th Century London that took its name from the city porters who grew rather fond of it.
Lobethal Bierhaus Chocolate Oatmeal Stout
One of two rich dark ales from the SA brewery, this is a full-flavoured and creamy-bodied stout made using golden rolled oats as well as malted and roasted barley and English hops and yeast. As such, expect hints of chocolate and roasted coffee flavours, with a smooth finish in a tasty winter warmer.
Style: Oatmeal Stout
Lobethal Double-Hopped IPA
A beer that does what it says on the tin: takes an IPA and goes to work with a extra large load of hops. Ostensibly based on the US style of IPA, it nevertheless shares some characters with the English IPAs on which they were based; or, as one knowledgeable bar owner put it: “It’s like an English take on a US version of an English style of beer.” Either way, it’s a cracking beer, one that is regularly tweaked to showcase different hops but which is reliably hoppy (of course) and also leaner and drier than many beers of its ilk.
Lobethal / The Wheaty Ryewaka
Anyone who’s spent time in the company of the ladies at Adelaide’s Wheaty will be well aware they know a thing or three about beer. Little wonder that they’ve become close to Al, co-founder and head brewer at Lobethal Bierhaus, since he started knocking out some of Australia’s finest craft beers a few years back. And perhaps even less wonder that it’s led to this: their first collaboration. Ryewaka is both a play on words (it uses rye and the Kiwi hop Riwaka) and a bundling together of some of the Wheaty’s favourite things (um, again, rye and lots of hops). As Wheaty Jade says: “I love Rye, love Rye in beer, love Riwaka Hops and am more than a little impartial to IPAs.” So, it’s a rye IPA that was launched three ways (regular tap, handpump and through their glasshopper “hopinator”) and is ready for sampling for those who want to see what the minds at two of SA’s finest come up with when left alone in a brewery. If you’re not tempted already, they were aiming for “the spicy, fruity, ‘hard’ grainy character of rye with the sharp, spicy, grapefruit-pith kick of Riwaka in a big, bitter and balanced IPA.”
Style: Rye IPA
Bitterness: Lots of IBUs
Lobethal / Yeastie Boys Bruce
The Yeastie Boys kept themselves busy when they popped over to Oz for Good Beer Week in May. They were guests at Good Beer Wheaty in Adelaide too and hooked up with Moon Dog and Lobethal Bierhaus for collaborative brews. The result of their time in the Adelaide Hills is this, a English style golden bitter named after Lobethal owners Al and Rosie’s British bulldog. Starting with a Maris Otter base, adding a good dose of delicious nutty Golden Naked Oats, the Yeastie Boys' favoured Whitbread yeast, and a hop combination of Challenger and Big Banger (a new Kiwi variety), the result is a beer that lives up to both sides of its name, i.e. it’s golden and, for a beer of such low alcohol, it’s pretty darn bitter too. Released simultaneously both sides of the Tasman.
Style: English Bitter
Lobethal Devil's Choice & Christmas Ale
First time we popped in to the Lobethal Bierhaus in the Adelaide Hills, we were lucky enough to time it for the appearance of the seriously limited release Devil’s Choice on tap. A once-a-year beer, it’s a big, bold strong Belgian golden ale, rich and creamy in the mouth and packed with loads of fruity character. There’s a touch of sweetness and little in the way of bitterness. There’s also little made so, with a waiting list for it this year, you’d better act fast if you want to get hold of any. As for the Christmas Ale, it’s hot off the press and is the sort of beer to transport you to a Christmas dinner table in the UK. Packed with all manner of dark fruit flavours and aromas and much spiciness too, it’s like a fruit pudding in a glass.
Strength: Devil's Choice 10%; Christmas Ale 6%
A collaboration of a different kind here, with Adelaide Hills brewery Lobethal Bierhaus joining forces with Adelaide’s GoodLife Modern Organic Pizza to create a beer to match the food at their three outlets. “Sourcing produce that’s fresh, in season, and from regional South Australia is what the GoodLife philosophy is all about, so we chose to continue down that line when we collaborated with another great local SA business – the Lobethal Bierhaus,” says GoodLife manager Martin Greenrod. The result is an easy drinking beer "with gentle bitterness and a combination of citrus and fruity aromas”, a cold conditioned lager produced with pilsner malts, Saaz hops added in the kettle and Citra added during conditioning. Only available at the GoodLife restaurants.