I was sitting under the veranda of an old homestead looking out over the green vineyards in the wine region of McLaren Vale, an easy 1 hour drive from Adelaide, sipping on a beer.
Yes beer. It may be sacrilege to sully my palate with a bitter brew while visiting McLaren Vale but I’ll worship wherever yeast turns sugar into alcohol. Especially when it comes with good food.
And it seems to be happening in wine regions right across Australia. Amongst the vines another sort of alcoholic beverage is making itself known. Breweries are popping up, catering to those who don’t enjoy fermented grape juice or who, like me, just feel like a change.
The Vale Inn stands on a corner on the road from McLaren Vale to Willunga, a historic building surround by its beverage nemesis, wine. We dropped in for lunch, forgetting because we were on holidays that it was Sunday. We were lucky to get a table and even luckier to get our lunch order into the kitchen before the rush.
We took our tasting paddle of beers out to the porch and commenced our tasting. The best beer in the paddle was the IPA which Ben quickly commandeered for himself. I grabbed the champagne cider which thankfully was an exceedingly dry style so it didn’t ruin the taste of the other beers or lunch. The larger, I thought, was nothing special but that may have more to do with my personal preference towards ales. Ben thought it quite refreshing and declared that he could drink it all day. The beer that started it all, the Vale Ale never fails to impress me.
Lunch arrived and Ben didn’t want to share my pizza. If he hadn’t taken the IPA from the tasting paddle it would have been the perfect day.
We dropped back into Vale Inn a second time during our holiday to South Australia. It was late in the afternoon on Australia Day after watching stage 5 of the Tour Down Under from Willunga. We sat out the back on the lawn area and listened to the end of the JJJ hottest 100 while sipping on $5 pints. Next year, we decided, we’d watch stage 5 of the Tour Down Under from here. We hatched what we thought was a flawless plan. We would get a spot in the caravan park in McLaren Vale and walk down the road, no need to worry about getting a cab. Good beer, good food, good tunes and the bike riders of Tour Down Under flying by.
Alas when doing my research for this post I visited the Vale Ale website to find this
Vale Inn has been sold and the McLaren Vale Beer Company will be moving up the road to Willunga. Sure they’ll be brewing on site and there will be brewery tours but what about the food? What about the grassed area out the back where you can sip a cider or an ale while eying the grape vines that surround?
And where am I going to watch next year’s Tour Down Under stage 5 from?