The Woolshed Brewery may be about an hours drive from my home, but we fondly refer to it as our “local” [pub]. At times we all their beverages in our fridge and it’s not because I am in a childless relationship and in my late 20’s with a disposable income. It’s because I love the Woolshed Brewery, their brews and the relaxed, fun loving atmosphere that you are immediately transported to when your reach for a Summer Ale.
Like many Aussie kids, I have grown up around the beer making process. I remember Dad’s keg in the laundry, wrapped in an electric blanket like a beloved child, creating optimum brewing conditions. I also remember sitting in the laundry with the very important job of labelling the brass coloured caps with a letters and numbers which could only be the code to unlocking the secrets to happiness.
I am yet to learn the not so secret art of brewing beer and this is probably because getting a good brew is pretty easy in the Riverland. You see, in the Riverland we have our very own micro-brewery that produces a diverse range of brews to suit any taste bud!
However, it is not just the beverages that draw me to the Woolshed Brewery. There are a combination of factors that harmoniously combine and present you with a brilliant venue for any special occasion or a simple excuse to get out of the house.
Located on the banks of the Murray River, 20km north east of Renmark (via Paringa) the brewery was once a shearing shed on the Wilkadene sheep and wheat station, a property with just two families at the helm in its 100 plus year history.
Today, the stubborn scent of lanolin transports drinkers to a time when sheep would be patiently waiting to be shorn and clouds of fleece were cast around for grading, the loose tufts blown around in the breeze like fairy dust.
The historic shearing shed reminds you of our rich agricultural history and is an idyllic setting to relax with what is probably a very traditional “end of shearing day” beverage.
The Woolshed Brewery “family” are among some of the friendliest people you will meet in the Riverland. Keep an eye out for Murray – the amazing darts player – and Boof – the resident pup – two fury members of the team who are more interested in your food than you.
The atmosphere is relaxed and warm, not because you have had two schooners of hard lemonade, but because everyone who visits cannot help but feel that coming to the Woolshed was the best decision of the day. The next decision is a bit harder, what to try!
The sun filters through the skyscraper tall gum trees that form a guard of honour along the Woolshed Brewery’s River view deck. During summer the shade brings relief from the hot Riverland sun and in winter, the dappled sunlight helps to warm you from the outside in while the Firehouse Coffee Stout warms you from the inside out.
A few paces (or staggers depending on how many IPA’s you have had) down from the bar and the deck, lush green lawns expand the entire distance of the River bank- the perfect place to sit back (or lie back on a picnic rug), relax, enjoy acoustic tunes and let the kids roam.
Of course, being set on the River, you can pull up by water vessel, whether that be a houseboat, boat or canoe, (what ever floats your boat really) after exploring the Murray River. Hopefully you caught a glimpse at the vibrant burnt orange coloured Headings Cliff‘s on your way up from Renmark. My tip, hire a BBQ boat from River Murray Houseboats and cruise up for the day from Renmark.
You can bring your own tucker to the Woolshed Brewrey, throw a snag or some chops on the barbie, or maybe crack open a bag of salt and vinegar chippies to counteract the sweetness of the hard lemonade. You can even chose from a range of Riverland and South Australian goodies to build your own cheeseboard to share!
Some weekends there are local caterers serving up lamb yiros, woodfire pizza’s or fish and chips so check the Woolshed Brewery’s Facebook page for what might be on offer the coming weekend.
With six different styles of beer on tap there is a favourite for everyone. Tasting paddles, where you can choose four to try, are great for first visits ($15 per paddle).
Even the names of the beverages reflect the laid back nature of the brewery and the local residents. The India Pale Ale, named Cherax Destructor, is the scientific name for the yabby which can be found in the banks of the Murray River. The Pale Ale, their first original brew, was named after a little creek about a kilometre upstream from the brewery, Amazon Creek hence named Amazon Ale.
The Woolshed Brewey even partnered with a local coffee roaster, Arrosto Coffee to produce a deliciously different Firehouse Coffee Stout. A must try and one of mine (and my Dad’s) favourites!
Non beer drinkers do not fear! There is also a Dry Apple Cider with Pear and a Hard Lemonade (this has a bit of punch to it) and a range of wines on offer. Non alcoholic beverages, coffee and tea are also available, something for everyone.
I’d love to hear about your favourite memories of the Woolshed Brewery, share them in the comments below.