Crafty Pint / 17.07.12
They’ve long called McLaren Vale home and now they can rightfully claim to be a McLaren Vale brewery. Four years after their formation – and many months after they originally hoped to flick the switch on their brewhouse – McLaren Vale Brewing Company is making beer at its Willunga facility. Monday was the day head brewer Jeff Wright finally fired up the 35 hectolitre brewhouse imported from Canada to begin brewing all Vale keg beer.
It brings the company to the point envisaged by its founder in 2008, after four years in which highly successful marketing and the release of beers very much at the approachable end of the craft market has seen them gain a significant foothold in much of Australia.
“I can’t wait to pull up the bean bag and toast a big glass of beer with locals and friends,“ says Jeff. "It’s been a long and hard couple of years but an incredibly satisfying ride. This brewery really amplifies the possibilities for us.
“As a brewer, there’s nothing more satisfying than lining your toys up the way you like them and hitting the brew button."
Since 2009, Vale has had a base in McLaren Vale after taking over the respected Salopian Inn and turning it into the Vale Inn (above) where they serve their full range of beers alongside craft beers drawn from around the world, local wine and quality pub food. Their beers were still brewed under contract interstate, a practice that is fairly widespread but for which Vale drew more than their fair share of criticism. And, while bottled product will continue to be produced interstate until they install a packaging line, they will brew all of their draft product – the four regular beers and seasonal releases – at Willunga.
Josh Stuart, General Manager of Operations, Brand and Hospitality, says: “It’s been a long time coming, so it will still take a little while to sink in properly. It’s like opening your Christmas presents before breakfast and being told you can’t play with your new toys until after lunch. As we are the first larger size brewery in McLaren Vale, council have been very cautious with all aspects of what we will be doing. It has been a painful journey, but we are there now.
“The Willunga Brewery allows the company to hold a wider presence in the local community, whilst offering a more tangible story and focal point for locals and consumers. It further moves to reinforce our SA roots, with over 90 per cent of the team being of South Australian Heritage.
There are plans to mark the milestone in the brewing company’s development with a Brewery Warming later in the year.
The Vale Inn is at 5 McMurtrie Road McLaren Vale.