The Barossa Valley enjoys global fame, known mainly for its bold, rich reds and delicious food offerings. It’s no secret the Valley is stained with shiraz and laced with vineyards that stretch across the Eden Valley, Tanunda, Nuriootpa, Greenock, Angaston as well as the well known Seppeltsfield regions.
However, even though the Barossa Valley is wine country, it has an ever-growing amount of local beer flowing through it these days, with more craft breweries popping up and well run venues dedicated to supporting their locals. It's a region with a real sense of community too, one where businesses encourage and nurture each other even though competition is fierce.
The Barossa Valley is about a 90 minute drive from Adelaide's CBD, making it a great getaway that's close enough yet can feel like a refreshing holiday. With the opening of a new expressway in February 2020, the trip is even easier, linking Adelaide directly to the Valley via 110kmh freeways and very little stopping. Even if driving isn’t an option, there are multiple bus hire services visiting the Barossa Valley daily, making it easier than ever to experience all the beery offerings the region has to offer.
Barossa Valley Brewing
One of the older craft breweries in South Australia, Barossa Valley Brewing first fired up their brewhouse in 2005. Located on the outskirts of Tanunda, owner Denham D’Silva took over a 100-year-old building that once housed a restaurant, added a brew shed out the back and made a home for his beer label. Denham fell in love with the beer scene while studying in the US and, once settling down in Australia, he struggled to find anything that satisfied his beer itch. So he made the decision to make his own, veering away from his previous work in the banking industry.
Barossa Valley have experienced a fair bit of awards success over the years, winning several awards for their beers across multiple competitions, including Best Beer In Show for their Canis Major IIPA at the Adelaide Beer and Cider Awards and multiple golds at the Australian International Beer Awards. At time of writing, their core range consists of Easy IPA, a Lemon Myrtle Pale Ale, a pilsener, an XPL, their India Summer Session and an Imperial Red IPA. The range is augmented by experimental limited releases and seasonal beers such as their wet hop NEIPA, Chocolate and Coffee Stout and Peanut Butter Chocolate Milkshake.
Food offerings at Barossa Valley mainly come in the form of tapas, pizzas, wings and other beer type foods. Closer to the weekend, live musical performances grace the beer garden, while you can sample what's on offer via a very generous tasting paddle, by the pint or in takeaway tinnies. While there, you can take a peek into the brewery via a large glass window and watch the brewers at work.
Crafty Cabal Member offer at Barossa Valley Brewing: Free Pint at Barossa Valley Brewing
Barossa Valley Brewing is at 2A Murray Street, Tanunda
Just around the corner is Rehn Bier. Brenton and Robyn Rehn started their brewery business on a tiny scale: in the back shed of their family house. Initially, Rehn Bier was only sold at the Barossa Farmer’s Market before showing up at a few select bottleshops. They experienced success early, receiving a gold medal for their Foreign Extra Stout in the first AIBA competition they entered.
Sales grew and production was amped up, so in 2017 the couple opened a microbrewery and taphouse. They flew in a new brewhouse, bigger fermenters and a few vintage chairs and tables to keep you comfy while you work your way through the lineup.
Rehn Bier offer a diverse range of styles, from a historic pale ale, a wheat and a smoked IPA, through to Belgian styles, an imperial stout and the aforementioned foreign extra – just to name a few. Visit Rehn Bier for a relaxed time and friendly service, all while supporting a family run business.
Rehn Bier is at 23 Magnolia Street, Tanunda
A short drive through the Barossa Valley into Nuriootpa brings you to Stein's Taphouse, an American style craft beer joint, with 14 taps pouring nothing but independent Aussie beer and cider and a fridge full of interesting beers. South Australian producers are heavily supported, with the likes of Greenock, Ministry of Beer, Woolshed, Lobethal, Swell, Uraidla and owner Michael’s personal favourite, Rehn Bier’s Stout, all regulars.
Housed in the Provenance Barossa, which is part of the old Penfold winery, Stein's are neighbours to several artisan style producers. They took over the old Penfold lab, hence the mad scientist mural and a bunch of old laboratory taps that can be found artistically displayed inside.
It’s not just good beer served at Stein's, however, as they cook up an American inspired menu, have a carefully curated wine list and a selection of small batch spirits from local distillers too. The entertainment takes on a blues and roots vibe, with live music on the stage on weekends and public holidays.
Stein's Taphouse is at 18 - 28 Tanunda Road, Nuriootpa
Close by – situated down the other end of Provenance – is Ember Pizza, a family-friendly restaurant best known for their pizzas but who also smoke and chargrill local produce. Among the traditional pizzas on the menu you'll also find more esoteric offerings such as truffled mushrooms and lamb meat balls (not a trace of pineapple in sight).
Their drinks menu is not overly large but is carefully selected, with two local companies in Barossa Valley Brewing and Western Ridge pouring through their two taps. In the fridge, the likes of Rehn Bier and Greenock augment the selection.
This local focus continues with the wines that are largely sourced from the Barossa, and their gin which belongs to the distillery next door. Kids are looked after with several different menu items and, if deciding on what to eat is difficult, let them take you on an Ember Experience showcasing a diverse array of their food offerings.
Ember Pizza is at 18-20 Tanunda Road, Nuriootpa
Western Ridge Brewing and Distilling first appeared from beyond their ridge in 2016 when they began life as contract brewers. It's a collective made up of five mates, all of whom are brewers in the business, working together to make beer at almost every brewery in the Barossa – another example of the region's community spirit. In 2020, they opened their own brewery in Nuriootpa, where they can brew under their own conditions and, maybe one day, distil their own liquor.
Western Ridge don’t have a core range as such, but instead several different beers that each brewer has designed individually. Within the collective, each owns their recipes and will retain ownership even if they part ways. Some of their past releases beers include Yet Another F@#$ing Pale Ale, a beer that usually changes the hop combo with each release, 20K Barossa Ale, a beer brewed with ingredients sourced within a 20 kilometre radius, a Rye IPA, a Summer Golden Ale, a Beetroot Saison and a stout titled All The Good Names Are Taken.
Western Ridge now call 2-4 Kalimna Road, Nuriootpa home
About a ten minute drive away, you'll find the hamlet of Greenock. It's a town of few houses, a post office, a corner store, a couple of cellar doors, a pub and a brewery. Greenock oozes community spirit and, on a Friday afternoon, a large chunk of the knock-off crowd can be found drinking Greenock’s beers (if they are not at the brewery, they can be found at The Greenock – within eyeshot of the fermenters).
Their front of house is an intimate and cozy affair, with only a couple of bench seats enough to keep the barman occupied; don’t worry, however, as there's a beer garden around the side. But what this brewery lacks in size, it makes up for in passion and love. Walking through the door, you'll likely be met by a welcoming smile from owner Chris Higgins or a "Cheers!" from one of the regulars.
The building is an 1860s wheat store in which Greenock keep things pretty simple: there are four beers in their range that float between a fusion of German styles and English ales. Starting off with their Bunawunda Blonde, featuring a German malt base, Czech hops and a lager yeast, you can move onto the Victorville Ale, which is the hoppiest of their range, featuring Cascade and Amarillo hops. There's also the Dark Ale, which is not dissimilar to an English porter brewed with Pride of Ringwood hops, and then the big hitter of the group, the 7 percent Brunskill Stout that appears in time for the cold frosts of winter.
Hungry? Bring your own snags and use the beer garden’s BBQ or purchase a cheese and chorizo platter. While you’re at it, why not cook up for everyone else?
The Greenock Brewery is at 9 Murray Street, Greenock
The Greenock Hotel celebrated 150 years in January 2020, with ownership of the freehold remaining within the one family for the entire duration. Again, community is key here, with a long list of super-friendly regulars.
Being a country style pub, it's important to cater to a wide range of tastes, so you'll find offerings from the big breweries on tap, but it's rumoured the biggest turnover comes from the Barossa breweries. The uber-close Greenock are regulars on tap and feature in bottles, Western Ridge Draught is a reliable guest, while Rehn Bier and Ministry of Beer pop up too alongside other SA breweries such as Prancing Pony and Coopers.
Food wise, you'll find standard pub regulars – pizzas, burgers and grill options – but it's the schnitzels that have the town coming back for more; they featuring on the Qantas Best Chicken Schnitzel list, and apparently the beef is even better. South Australian gins occupy a large chunk of shelf space and the wine list is impressive too, adding to the appeal of a warm country pub with a classy twist that really looks after locals.
The Greenock is at 2 Murray Street, Greenock
Ministry of Beer
On the outskirts of Barossa, in Rosedale, there are some small fermenters bubbling away. Inside is beer belonging to Brett Reimann and his small batch Ministry of Beer label. Starting out in 2016, Brett is similar to a lot of small start-up breweries in the sense he began his journey as an avid homebrewer before his passion became an obsession.
Ministry of Beer have featured a few times in our Best New SA Beers of the year lists, with The Old Timer Golden Sour first launching the brand into the spotlight. The barrel that houses the sour is partially drained every year, with a new batch blended on top. In 2018, a new element was added to this sour with the addition of Adelaide Hill cherries that turned it into more of a kriek.
But Brett isn’t a one trick pony, he also brews several hop driven beers, including a pale ale, an IPA and a NEIPA, some of which are brewed with Cascade hops grown on his farm. A Mosaic Berliner and Raspberry Berliner, barrel-fermented saison and a Caramelised Fig Milk Stout for the colder months have all featured at some point too.
Ministry of Beer doesn’t have a front of house as of yet, but Brett’s beers can usually be found at Stein's, several bottleshops in the city, and at a few other good bottleshops in SA.
Barossa Craft Malt
Not a beer brand as such, nor is Barossa Craft Malt a venue that sells beer, but a Crafty Crawl focusing on the Barossa Valley without a mention for Barossa Craft Malt just wouldn’t right. Fourth generation farmers Tom and Melissa Ryan run a malting business that supports the local beer industry exponentially, by working closely with local breweries and tweaking and adapting their product based on brewer’s feedback and close working relationships.
Tom uses repurposed equipment that he, along with his dad, refashioned to allow the raw barley that comes off his farm to be malted into a few varieties. They supply malt to Rehn Bier and Western Ridge and feature in the latter’s 20K beer. Tom works on small batches, malting 350kgs at time, and receives a few cold beers in return.
So, fuel up the car, load up on snacks, organise that designated driver: the Barossa Valley is the destination and beer is the drink of choice.
You can check out other Crafty Crawls from around the country here and find all the above venues and hundreds more, plus beers, events, special deals and more in the free Crafty Pint app.
Photo to top of article supplied by the South Australian Tourist Commission. If you're reading this while the scheme is still operating, the SA Government is offering vouchers to encourage tourism in the state – details here.