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A New World of Beer and Spirits - McLaren Vale & Fleurieu Coast Blog

McLaren Vale & Fleurieu Coast Blog

Find out the best of what our destination has to offer.

A New World of Beer and Spirits

Wine isn’t the only drink making a splash in McLaren Vale and Fleurieu Coast. A community of trailblazing brewers and distillers also bring an impressive collection of craft spirits and beer to the table.

If you are lovers of gin like us, you won’t be disappointed. Here’s a quick guide for keen spirit-lovers to taste their way through one of the most beautiful areas in South Australia. Top Tip, the gin trail is best enjoyed over a couple of days and booking in advance is always best.  

Angove Family Wine Makers

Top-drawer brandy is a beautiful thing. Angove Family Winemakers is a fifth-generation family winemaking business and has been producing its benchmark St Agnes Brandy for 95 years. 

Must try:  The new St Agnes Brandy flight experience at the Angove McLaren Vale Cellar Door in the heart of the family’s historic, organic and biodynamic Warboys Vineyard. Taste three treasures from Australia's oldest continually operating craft distillery -  the Bartenders Cut (eight-year-old),  XO (15 year-old)  and XO Imperial Blend (20-year-old).

Two Accents Gin

Laurie Bilby’s fascination with gin grew from when she used to help her grandmother make sloe gin.  She now creates her own batch-distilled gins made with McLaren Vale and SA botanicals.

Two Accents gins are available to taste and buy at McLaren Vale’s Fox Creek Wines Cellar Door including Siren Gin (Navy Strength) and classic Dry Gin which is a fresh, balanced and smooth citrus-forward gin which is not too heavy on the juniper. 

Must try:  Shiraz Gin blended with Fox Creek Shiraz and a Barrel-Aged Shiraz Gin - which Laurie describes as a “comfort gin”  Get ginspired with self-guided gin flights (approx 30 minutes)

 Settlers Spirits 

This distillery door is an essential stop for tasting more than a dozen locally-made boutique gins. Non-juniper fans can explore Settlers’  whisky, rum, vodka and liqueurs.

In addition to pre-booked spirit tastings for individuals or groups, the distillery door offers gin and cheese pairing sessions, cheese platters and cool cocktails. 

Must try: A Masterclass where you create your own gin recipes and take one home in a 200 ml bottle.

A couple of the newly created Epicurean Series including the Mint and Rosemary gin (you guessed it, to be paired with a classic roast lamb) or a Strawberry and Vanilla Gin perfectly matched for a dessert of pavlova with strawberries and cream.

 Settlers Spirit Gin Distillery 

Flights Gin Bar at Penny’s Hill  

You don’t need a boarding pass to access Flights, a gin bar and tasting room located in a beautifully-restored 1850s carriage house nearby their airstrip at this landmark McLaren Vale property. 

Flights, created by Tony Parkinson and Suzie Hayward-Annese, has an aviation theme and is home to two stand-out gin brands distilled by Kangaroo Island Spirits.

Must Try: Their flagship Mad Men OriGINal  gin - (London Dry style) and Vimy Gin  which celebrates the daring 1919 first-ever England to Australia flight in a Vickers Vimy plane.

 Flights Gin Bar 

Stop Four: Never Never Distilling Co.  

An architecturally-designed distillery door with uninterrupted views of McLaren Vale is the spiritual home of Never Never Distilling Co.  

Never Never owners George Georgiadis, Sean Baxter, and Tim Boast know a thing or two about gin, so make sure you taste the team’s lineup of juniper-forward gins including the Southern Strength Gin which won the World’s Best Classic Gin at the 2019 World Gin Awards.    

Must try: Their Dark Series of experimental gins including Ginache made with Never Never’s award-winning Triple Juniper Gin and Grenache using grapes picked from Chalk Hill’s Slate Creek vineyard.  It sold out fast but the team kept a few bottles aside.

The cocktail menu is also a must – a distillation of the region itself – showcasing creations designed to celebrate local produce such as the Olive Oil Martini made by infusing the Never Never Triple Juniper Gin with Lloyd Brothers late picked Verdale and Kalamata olive oil.

Never Never Distillery   

New: The Shifty Lizard Brewing Co & Soul Bird Distilling 

Danny Strapps and Lee Stone (the duo behind Shifty Lizard) craft beers with quirky names and eye-catching-illustrated labels. With names like Mid Strength Brewski Easy Ale,  Sesh’n  Ale, Bruce LeeZard West Coast IPA, KIPQ English IPA, Gila Monsters IIPA and Stouty McStoutface, the brews are conversation starters.  Grab a table, order some delicious hot dogs and loaded fries to fuel your Shifty Lizard adventures.  

Must try: One of 10-12 limited edition beers such as a recent best-seller, Rose of Sharon Hibiscus NEIPA. 

The new independent, small-batch craft distillery Soul Bird Distilling has joined Shifty Lizard.  Beer and Gin in one location - you can’t ask for more than that.

Swell Brewing Co

Try your hand at food and beer matching at this popular brewshed run by keen surfer and brewer Dan Wright. The beer guru brewed (beer and ideas) for a decade before opening this impressive brewery and taphouse. It’s a fun, family friendly place with a large lawned area where kids and dogs are welcome.

Swell has a core beer range with 16 taps along with occasional guest taps and an ongoing range of trial batch brews.  The menu centres on beer-friendly bites including juicy burgers and Tex Mex favourites.

Must try:  The Golden Ale which won the Best Australian Style Pale Ale gong at the Australia International Beer Awards.

Beresford

Wine tastings share the spotlight with beer and spirit experiences at Beresford’s sleek and spacious Tasting Pavilion. Book a one-hour session and taste your way through Vale Brewing’s refreshing ales and sessionable lagers including Vale Mid Coast, Vale Ale, Vale Lager, Vale Knee Slapper and Vale IPA.   

Must try: The full-bodied Fox Hat Brewing craft beers including Lusty Lager, Metric IPA, Red Pelt,  Phat Mongrel and Full Mongrel. Flights of 23rd Street Distillery's flagship handcrafted spirits including gin, vodka, brandy and a whisk(e)y hybrid.

Beresford Beer Tasting McLaren Vale and Fleurieu Coast

Ekhidna Beer

Winemaking identity Matt Rechner crafts award-winning Ekhidna wines but is no stranger when it comes to brewing good-tasting craft beer.  Taste the brews (and wines) at Ekhidna’s weekend-only cellar door and restaurant with its uninterrupted spectacular view of vines and beyond to the Mt Lofty Ranges.  Choose from a great lineup of brews including a Wheat Beer, IPA, Dark Ale and  50/50 (half wheat and half ginger beer) 

Must try: Ekhidna’s famed Ginger Beer for its strong, sweet, ginger spice flavour.

Beer flight Ekhidna Wines McLaren Vale and Fleurieu Coast

Salopian Inn Gin Bar

One of McLaren Vale’s most beloved restaurants also has an exceptional Gin Bar. 

Pull up a stool at the bar and check out the Salopian’s encyclopaedic list of about 150 different gins from around  Australia and the globe. You will definitely need a drink after reading the dizzyingly diverse gin menu but a local tip -take  guidance from sommelier and drinks guru, Alex Marchetti.  

Must try: The Summer Gin (a bespoke collaboration with Kangaroo Island Spirits) delivering a fresh style with hints of saltbush and mint, making a cracking G&T to sip at the beach on a hot summer’s day.

Don’t forget to tag all your gin trail adventures using #valeandcoast. We would love to see your amazing captures!   

 

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