McLaren Vale

Few breweries have managed to spread the word about their beer as fast as McLaren Vale. Launched as a brewing company with just one beer - VALE/ALE - in 2008, it was soon on tap and in stores in multiple states, aided by a much debated top spot for VALE/ALE in the Hottest 100 Aussie Craft Beers of 2011 poll.

By that point, VALE/DRY - a lager - had been added to the roster, a roster that was steadily expanded further with the addition of a dark lager and a highly aromatic IPA plus a number of seasonal releases. The company had also taken up residence in McLaren Vale too, taking over the former Salopian Inn before the final piece of the jigsaw arrived in the middle of 2012 in the shape of their own brewery down the road images at Willunga. It had been a long time coming, with the site secured two years earlier and the 35 hectolitre brewhouse imported from Canada originally expected to be in place late in 2011. The Willunga site now produces all of Vale's draught beers under the stewardship of a very happy head brewer Jeff Wright.

Since firing up the new brewhouse, Jeff has been steadily developing a series of seasonal releases. Going under the EXP banner, the series was kickstarted with an Oatmeal Stout, with new beers following every few months. In 2012, a new lager, AKA LGR, replaced the DRY in their core range.

Vale also decided to move its whole operation to the brewery location in 2013, handing over the keys to the Salopian Inn and beginning the process of creating a cellar door and bar at Willunga. Watch this space for news on its opening.

Name
McLaren Vale
Address

6 Jay Drive
Willunga
SA 5172

Phone
1300 MVBEER
Website
Website

The Regulars

VALE/LGR

It's old world meets new with the latest release from McLaren Vale. Currently enjoying being owners of their own brewery and holders of the trophy for Best Draught Lager from the Perth Royal Beer Show (where their DRK - aka dark lager - picked up said gong), the aim here, says head brewer Jeff Wright, is "to achieve is an old-world backbone with a traditional European lager body, but with the artful addition of new world hops." This has been done by using a mix of German Tettnang hops alongside Aussie Helga and Kiwi varieties Pacifica and just-released Waimea. The result, says Jeff, is "sweet malt characters ... balanced by the earthy spice, fresh citrus kick and floral aroma." It's out in time for summer but will be added to the brewery's year round range. ··· Read more
Style
Lager
Strength
4.5%
Bitterness
25 IBU

VALE/ALE

The beer with which the McLaren Vale project was launched - and for some years their only beer - is the epitome of a gateway beer, designed to entice drinkers away from the mainstream. An approachable Australian pale ale that combines light tropical and citrus fruit hop aromas with sweet malt flavours and a gentle bitterness, it clearly set out the McLaren Vale stall as one with mass appeal in mind. ··· Read more
Style
Australian Pale Ale
Strength
4.5%
Bitterness
25 IBU

VALE/DRY - Discontinued

The second release from McLaren Vale and another one with its sights set firmly on the wavering commercial beer drinker. It's an unfiltered dry lager that keeps the bitterness firmly in check, uses a little wheat malt to give it a dry finish and uses noble German hops for a light floral nose. ··· Read more
Style
Lager
Strength
4.5%
Bitterness
18 IBU

VALE/DRK

Why brew one lager when you can brew two? For their third release, Vale decided to follow their dry lager with a dark one inspired by the States. Utilising the Falconer's Flight hop blend more commonly found in hoppy pales and IPAs, it combines chocolate and cocoa malt flavours with fruity hop notes and a solid bitterness too. ··· Read more
Style
Dark Lager
Strength
4.5%
Bitterness
30 IBU

VALE/IPA

The latest addition to the permanent Vale stable represented quite a radical departure from what had come before. An IPA packing a powerful hop aroma that hits you well before the glass reaches your lips, it's use of three big hop varieties - Australian Galaxy, NZ Nelson Sauvin and American Citra - gives the beer heaps of tropical, citrusy, passionfruit and piney notes. There are some caramel malt flavours in there, but they're really a bit part player brought along to give the hops a leg up. Remarkably, given how pungent it is, any bitterness is minimal, making it a highly approachable introduction to the world of hop bombs. ··· Read more
Style
IPA
Strength
5.5%
Bitterness
41 IBU

The Specials

McLaren Vale VALE EXP #007

Having hit 007 in their series of occasional experimental releases, the team at McLaren Vale really had no option but to enlist the spirit of Bond. Not only that, but they've snuck in a nod towards the Mike Myers Bond spoof Austin Powers too. In keeping with the Bond theme, the beer is called Goldfinger (and is thus a golden ale); with regards to the International Man of Mystery, the beer features Enigma, the new and set-for-stardom hop from Tassie's Hop Products Australia. According to head brewer Jeff Wright: “Goldfinger is all about citrus flavours and aromas, set against a background of subtle melon and spice. Golden in the glass, expect a moreish lemon-inspired note of bitterness within this smooth and stylish brew. We’ve used Enigma hops, which offer a mysterious fruity character which mingles seductively with the international tang of the Japanese Sorachi Ace. The mouthfeel is light to medium and well rounded, thanks to a bucket of Vienna malt and a couple of good handfuls of ··· Read more
Style
Golden Ale
Stockists

Melbourne:

Robert Burns Hotel

Brunswick Mess Hall

Adelaide:

Kings Hotel

Archer Hotel

Hotel Wright Street

Released November 11 2014

McLaren Vale EXP 5: Faux Nero

The cross-pollination / melding / bastardisation / whatever-you-like-to-call-it of beer styles shows little sign of abating. And if anything is likely to encourage brewers to indulge in a spot of jiggery-pokery in the brewery, it's the annual Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular in Melbourne with its requirement for more than 100 never-before-released beers. And thus it is that this year's GABS led McLaren Vale to conjure up a "very limited edition" white coffee stout. It's the sixth beer in its VALE/EXP line and a handful of kegs have made it out across Sydney, Adelaide, Hobart and Melbourne since the festival drew to a close. It's described as a combination of "sweet malts, coffee notes and creamy mouthfeel" that "offer hints of mocha milkshake". Head brewer Jeff Wright is a self-confessed coffee connoisseur who found inspiration while drinking a coffee martini. 'Firstly, I wanted to trick people's tastebuds with a beer that has the flavours of a stout but is white in colour,â? he says. ··· Read more
Style
Coffee Stout
Stockists

NSW:

Union Hotel Newtown

The Australian Hotel

Kirribilli Hotel

Dove & Olive

Clock Hotel Surry Hills

Woolloomooloo Bay Hotel

VIC:

More stockists...

Released June 17 2014

McLaren Vale EXP 4

There's a lot to be said for US-inspired brown ales. After all, what's not to like in a style that is based around ensuring there's lots of rich malt flavour and plenty of big hops joining in the party too? It's the style the brewing team at McLaren Vale has plumped for as the fourth release in its occasional EXP limited release, keg-only series. They've plumped for some pretty punchy American hop varieties too - Simcoe and newcomers El Dorado and Zythos - which have been pitted against five malts. The result, we're told, is aromas of "rich chocolate and caramel, combined with tropical fruit and vanilla-pine derived from the hops". It's a similar story with the flavour, although the brewers reckon you'll find citrus and stonefruit hop characters too. Completing the picture, they used nitrogen when filling the kegs to create a creamier mouthfeel. Sounds luvverly. ··· Read more
Style
Hoppy Brown
Strength
6.5%
Stockists

Vic stockists

Beer DeLuxe

Rainbow Hotel

Builders Arms Hotel

Steam Packet Hotel, Williamstown

Metropolitan Hotel, Nth Melb

Great Britain Hotel, Richmond

[Young & Jackson](/beer/bar/young-j

Released August 19 2013

McLaren Vale EXP 3

It seems like they're having fun at McLaren Vale now their brewery is fully up and running (and set to develop into a venue for punters too). This, their third EXP (or experimental) release sees them going a little fruity and adding a little rhubarb into the mix. We say a little as the fruit is subtle rather than the dominant force in this take on the Belgian witbier style, which is a full-bodied, deeply cloudy and creamy affair. If anything, the more traditional witbier ingredients (coriander and dried orange peel) are more noticeable with the rhubarb, which was added in the boil, adding a touch of tartness to what's otherwise a lightly citrusy beer with a big sweet malty base. ··· Read more
Style
Witbier with Rhubarb
Strength
5.5%
Stockists

In good beer bars nationwide

Released April 8 2013

VALE/EXP1

The first release in McLaren Vale's EXP series - AKA experimental - is an oatmeal stout given a shot of nitro for added creaminess. Borne of brewer Jeff Wright's experimentations, he says to expect "flavours of rich, bitter chocolate and roast coffee coming from the combination of seven malts" plus a "citrusy bitter finish" from the use of Cascade hops. ··· Read more
Style
Stout
Strength
4.8%

Released June 20 2012

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