Perched on the main strip of seaside village Semaphore, Sweet Amber Brew Cafe is inspired by, and is an ode to, beer. Beer is everywhere: empty bottles grace the shelves; the fridges are lined top to bottom with it; the four taps pour it; and the chef uses it in all of her recipes.
Since opening their doors in 2015, owners Dane Adkins and Nicole Berry have nestled into the local community, attracted by the relaxed coastal vibe, and have been met with overwhelming support.
The idea for Sweet Amber came while the pair resided in Canberra, where Dane worked as a wedding photographer for six years. To pass time in the country’s capital, Dane delved into homebrewing and this is where he first began to understand beer and cider. He joined Canberra’s homebrew club and launched straight into all grain brewing.
And, after frequent visits to his well stocked local bottleshop, Dane had an idea to bring back and implement in his home suburb.
“Plonk had an amazing range of beers and ciders and the original plan was to replicate that back in South Australia as a takeaway outlet,” he says.
Liquor licensing hurdles in South Australia meant the concept needed tweaking and instead their attention then turned to opening a venue.
“I saw that there was a gap in the market in Semaphore, a place to drink that wasn’t a pub. Something small that didn’t have that mass produced, commercial feel,” he says.
The final product is a cosy, homely cafe-cum-restaurant that serves up platters, a relaxed dining atmosphere and an enticing backyard style drinking garden. On those platters you’ll find beer-infused dips, including a jalapeño IPA hummus, a porter caramelised onion dip and a zesty pilsner tzatziki served with freshly made hefeweizen flat bread.
The toasties are another talking point on the menu and have all been paired with a suggested beer. "The Radelaide" consists of Adelaide blue cheese, mixed with walnuts and cider soaked apples and served with grilled stout tiger loaf. To add to the beer soaked menu, Dane teams up with a wood fired pizza company on Wednesday nights and allows food trucks to swing by on other evenings too.
Dane and Nicole quickly turned Sweet Amber Brew Cafe into a cultural hub in Semaphore. They often host art exhibitions and live local music, as well as becoming an affiliated venue for the Semaphore blues festival. Through the warmer months they offer a wide variety of events and demonstrations, such as brew days by local SA brewing companies and tap takeovers and tastings. The colder months sees them host similar events but with the addition of Friday night fire night, where the beer garden fire pit is used to sizzle marshmallows as well as keeping guests warm.
The four taps support prominently SA companies, with the couple aiming to keep 60 percent of all beer poured through them from local brewers. Dane has also teamed up with NOLA to import a keg pallet a month from different states of Australia. This allows Dane and Nicole to pour beers that haven’t necessarily been seen in SA before or that at least appear infrequently. On top of that, the double door fridge is always well stocked with up to 40 different varieties of craft beer and ciders and, late in 2016, they started brewing their own beers with, naturally, an amber ale the first brew. An onsite brewery is set to start pumping out beers before the end of 2017 too.
It didn’t take long for Sweet Amber Brew Cafe to add a breath of fresh air to Semaphore’s Main Street, offering diners and drinkers something a little more sophisticated. It's a venue where guests can appreciate the drinks, food and ambience while feeling like they’re still at home, one where community and family is central to everything they do but also where beer, above all, is the key ingredient.