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.