Lion may have given Knappstein Reserve Lager the chop, but Clare Valley's two independent breweries are on the up and up. Head to Clare Valley Brewing Co or Pikes Beer Company and you'll find much changed – or in the process of changing fast.
The former has expanded its cellar door offering, moving from the quaint little tasting room space it shared with Jeanneret Wines to a full blown venue overlooking its picturesque grounds, while a large visitor centre is taking shape at Pikes.
“Whilst the old cellar door served us well, it was really just retail space for visitors to purchase takeaways," says Ben Stevens, Clare Valley’s brand manager. "Now we have a great place where people can come in, sit down on deck and enjoy a beer fresh off tap.”
Visitors today will find an open plan cellar door (pictured at top) showcasing beer and wine from the sibling operations, with large rectangular windows opening out across the balcony over the surrounding lush gardens and a brick fire place for the colder months.
They've installed five taps pouring Clare Valley’s beers and the Miss Molly Cider, while takeaways are still available in bottle or growler form.
“It’s pretty safe to say we were overwhelmed by the response," says Ben of their first Easter weekend after the opening. "The space and scenery is amazing, which has certainly driven a lot of new visitors through the doors, but we've also had a great response from the local community."
A short drive away, the Pikes Visitor Centre will host a 70 person restaurant, an outlet selling fresh local produce, a private wine room and the capacity to host 130 people for functions. The new building overlooks their vineyards and one of their feature walls is built with giant stones from the property. In total, the centre will cost $1.57 million, in part funded by a $320,000 Regional Development Fund grant from the state government, which will help the owners create eight new jobs in the region.
“The new restaurant and Visitors Centre will be the missing link at Pikes Beer and Wines," says head brewer Alister Pike (pictured below). "Having a food option will tie everything together for the winery, but I think the Brewery Tap Room and Pikes Beer Company in general will see some big rewards.
"The Clare Valley Is a busy place right now, with great old pubs being reopened, and new restaurants starting up all around us. It’s great for the valley.”
He added: “People that come to our brewery at the moment are more than likely on a wine tour, consisting of multiple wineries and a pub or restaurant with short stays at each venue. This usually means their stop in at Pikes Brewery involves a tasting paddle and a takeaway purchase before moving on.
"Once we open, visitors will hopefully be sticking around for lunch and having a few pints!"