“Welcome to Stein’s Taphouse. We specialise in beer. We serve Australian craft beer.”
As welcomes go, that which greets guests arriving at this American style taphouse in the heart of the Barossa is one to have beer lovers salivating.
It’s a welcome that’s likely to be followed by: “We have ten beer taps, a cider and a hard lemonade on at the moment. Do you feel like an IPA, pale ale, red ale or maybe even this full flavoured lager that we tapped last night?”
It’s safe to say the staff at Stein’s Taphouse know their beer – and will jump at the chance to educate the public, offering a lesson in beer in a region better known for its reds.
“It has got to the point that we have got probably as many over 45-year-old drinkers in here as under 45-year-old drinkers,” says co-owner Michael Rosenstein, “and that is the experience you see in America.”
Along with wife Jan Faletic, Michael moved from Melbourne to be closer to family. Prior to the interstate switch, they’d run the Brunswick Hotel, a classic old pub purchased when it was a worker’s bar selling commercial lagers and complete with a TAB. They closed it for two months, redesigned it in its entirety and in its place a beer and live music bar emerged, pokies and TAB free.
Before opening Stein’s, Michael and Jan further developed a taste for good beer when they travelled America for inspiration. They visited wine bars, breweries and craft beers bars in San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Portland and soon realised craft beer bars were the way of the future. Along the way, Michael developed a love for IPAs so hopheads can expect to find a few beers to satisfy their tastes when they pay a visit.
The estate that Stein’s calls home was once part of the Penfolds winery. The winery cellar door is still next door but the building housing Stein’s was formerly a laboratory where scientists would test the wines. The original lab water and gas taps are on display above the bar, along with a large mad scientist mural, while overhead hang lights repurposed from beer bottles, but otherwise it’s all new.
When Michael and Jan took over, walls were knocked out, floor boards ripped up, and a bar and kitchen area added, the result being a spacious, roadhouse like bar, with the tall benches and stools inside augmented by an extensive verandah that wraps itself around the outside of the building.
The influence of the American trip is writ large too: the logo echoes American highway signs, Americana joins beer posters on the walls and the ever-changing menu serves up burgers, Buffalo wings, Californian fish tacos and brisket – along with a South Australian favourite, the Pie Floater. There’s a foosball table for good measure, while live music with a leaning towards Blues, Roots and Country is something to keep an eye out for too.
Independence plays an equally important role. More than three dozen different varieties of Australian gins and whiskies grace the shelves alongside an all Australian wine list. The beer selection is also all Australian and all independent, whether that's the 60 bottled and canned options in the double doored fridge or across the 14 taps, increased from 12 at opening. Michael and Jan prefer to have the majority of these pouring SA beer with one, Rehn Bier’s Extra Stout, becoming a Barossa favourite, especially in winter.
Barossa Valley is a region awash with great wine and iconic vineyards. But, along with a growing number of small brewing companies, Stein’s Taphouse is offering something else. Often heard from winemakers who drop by after work is the catch cry: "It takes a lot of great beer to make wine!" So, while the history of Penfolds may seep through the walls of the Taphouse, no longer does your next wine tour need to be limited to grapes.