When travelling to a destination named Kangaroo Island one would expect to see kangaroos. And, of course, one does, along with seals, penguins, goannas, remarkable rocks, vibrant blue beaches and the many other attractions that keep tourists busy.
What you're less likely to expect in a place that requires a ferry ride to reach is a good selection of beer, let alone beer brewed locally. However, thanks to Mike Holden, Kangaroo Island offers that too.
Hand built in 2015, Kangaroo Island Brewery is located on the outskirts of Kingscote, the main town on the island. The brewery, bar and drinking are all housed in a corrugated iron shed complete with large, exposed stone feature wall and great views of the open ocean. On entry, the place might seem quiet, but further exploration reveals that this is because the regulars know the best spot and have parked their stools under the awning at the rear, where they can drink while taking in the island scenery.
Owner and brewer Mike prides himself on utilising the elements to create his beers; from the rain falling on his roof to the sun's rays hitting his solar panels it ensures Kangaroo Island's beer leaves the lightest of footprints on the planet. And, slowly but surely, one by one, Mike is slowly converting the island's lager drinkers with his easy-going, honest beers.
Pale ale, IPA, amber ale and a Sheoak Stout loosely make up the regular range, with one-offs popping up occasionally. The stout is an interesting talking point, yet again utilising what nature has to offer. The bark from the Sheoak tree (eaten by the black galahs that frequent the area) is charred in the brewery's fireplace and added to the boil to impart a slightly smoky, roasty character to the beer. The pale ale could be nicknamed the converter, thanks to its easy-drinking approach. The IPA emits huge stone fruit characters, particularly apricots, while the amber is nutty with gentle caramel flavours.
Mike keeps things simple in the brewery, with a 200 litre system used to fill almost 70 60 litre fermenters; simple but very manual too, thanks to a need to move the fermenters around with sheer force. Augmenting the in-house brews are cans of his core range he has brewed offsite, which has allowed Mike to put his beers in fridges at bottleshops and pubs throughout Kangaroo Island.
If you want to find out more, book a seat on the ferry, take a short drive and enjoy a Kangaroo Island beer fresh from the source. Or read on as we feature Mike in our ongoing Who Brews...? series.
Mike Holden – Kangaroo Island
Why do you brew?
To keep our brewery flush with beer and for the love of course!
What beers have you released to date?
Pale, Amber, IPA, Sheoak Stout, Sparkling, Ginger, Summer, Session IPA, Cerveza.
What’s the inspiration behind the brewery name?
KI has never had one and we thought we’d have a crack!
Was there a beer or a moment that set you on the path to becoming a brewer?
Sitting in a brewery south of Adelaide and thinking that our island needs one of these! When you decide to have a brewery you sure as fuck better learn how to brew!
What beers are in your fridge right now?
Coopers Sparkling – a classic, My IPA, Pirate Life Mosaic.
What would be your desert island beer?
Coopers Sparkling – An awesome all-rounder. A bit of hop, a bit of punch and awesome to quench a thirst.
If your brewery was a band, who would it be?
Queens of the Stone Age – when a new album comes out, you know what you’re getting.
Where do you hope your brewery will be ten years from now?
Cranking on, making a few beers, a bit bigger but still with lots of love and passion.
Where can people find your beers?
Outlets on Kangaroo Island and from the source.
For other entries in our Who Brews...? series, head here.