It’s no secret the Limestone Coast is home to some of Australia’s greatest wine regions. But in a land of hidden wonders and underground gems, it makes sense that our region is also home to some of the country’s most unique craft breweries and distilleries - and hey, maybe you’re not a wine drinker after all?
From family-forged frothies to subterranean spirits, you’ll find the glass is always half full when travelling in our region, and if you’ve arrived here a little thirsty, you’ll definitely be spoiled for choice. Here’s where to find our local liquor legends!
Frothies With Friends: Craft Breweries.
In case you’re wondering, yes… it’s always beer o’ clock somewhere, and around here you’ll find plenty of craft brewers to put a frothy smile on your dial. Whether it’s a hearty stout, an ice-cold lager, a grippy little IPA - or something totally left-of-center - there’s a keg waiting to be tapped in every town.
Loophole Brewing Co.
Starting on the coast, you’ll find the cool crew at Loophole Brewing Co. co-located with Cape Jaffa Wines, making the switch between whites and reds to ambers all the more palpable. So the story goes, brewers Des and Tom bonded over a mutual goal of escaping the daily grind and making top notch booze, and so it was that they found themselves a lifestyle ‘loophole’ – and for that we’re ever thankful!
Smack in the middle of Mount Benson Wine Region, Des’s nearby paddocks are blessed with a natural aquifer, and with pristine water having been filtered for millions of years it goes without saying their beers are pretty spectacular.
With stunning views and some seriously quirky collaborations with their winemaking friends across the driveway, you can expect some fairly eccentric gear in between the standard fare. Ever tried a beer infused with biodynamic Gewürztraminer and Shiraz? How about a Pinot Gris Sour? This is the place to do it!
Robe Town Brewery
Just down the road in the cool coastal village of Robe, you’ll find Robe Town Brewery churning out some seriously interesting beers via the only wood-fired brewing kettle in Australia. If you’re not sure where to start, grab a tasting paddle and a cheese platter and work your way through the range – oh, and you’d best arrive here thirsty, because it’s huge!
With nearly thirty different beers to sample, from light sours to thick stouts and everything in between, you’ll also find local gins and wines to keep your non-beer drinking friends happy, along with a stack of local artwork decking out the warehouse-style walls. If you can haul yourself out of the comfy retro couches long enough for a game of pool you’ll also find a table and a triangle ready to be set, while musos will relish tinkling the ivories on the old piano.
Oh, and just so you know this place is one of the livelier haunts in town! If you’re here to be entertained, the doors are open late on weekends, with live music on Fridays delivering effervescent entertainment to match the fizz in your glass!
Beachport Brewing Co.
Following the sand and sea a little further south, there’s an ice cold pint waiting for you right by the water at Beachport Brewing Co! Housed in the old Fish Factory next to the town’s iconic jetty, this exciting new enterprise is run by local farmers Mark and Kate, who’ve carved a reputation for beers befitting of the region’s unique terroir.
Sourcing top-quality wheat and barley from their own property (much like a winemaker selects premium parcels of grapes) brews are carefully crafted to fit the cool-climate flavour profiles of the landscape, producing a genuine paddock-to-pint experience. With tap beers ranging from Skipper’s Middy Wheat Beer to the aptly named Beachporter – plus lagers, pale ales, quince sours and others in between - this place is also home to best views in town, overlooking the pristine waters of Rivoli Bay.
With Bompas of Beachport and the Waterfront Cafe also within easy strike, grabbing some takeaway for a session by the sea (bring your dog) is pretty much Beachport in a glass, while will parents will also find the local playground plonked conveniently next door, with heaps of space for scooters, balls and a selection of colouring activities and games.
Of course, like most things about this town there’s always more to the story, and gin-lovers will also find a cheeky drop at the on-site Beachport Spirit Co (more on that below), plus a range of Beachport Berkshires free range pork products (straight from Mark and Kate’s farm) to take back home for dinner.
Woolstore Brewery Mount Gambier
Rolling into the volcanic metropolis of Mount Gambier, it’s refreshing to know that in a city of mysterious lakes and caves there’s also a pretty good underground brewing scene happening here too. Enter Woolstore Brewery, which takes pride of place in a historic old building smack in the middle of the iconic Railway Lands precinct, with an awesome nature playground and public entertainment space just a frisbee throw away.
Featuring an ever-expanding range of beers from easy drinking golden ales to Australian pales and even a single hop ‘experimental’, you’ll find the Cocky Stout is like a warm hug from an old friend on a wild and woolly day, while the outside deck is primed for sunny sessions.
For non-drinkers the coffees here are equally good, and for those keen to mix things up there’s also a range of local cider, seltzer and wine – along with a decent selection of hot food – from sliders and croquettes to hotdogs and yiros (and I mean, who could pass up a parma with a pint?).
While this place has already cemented it’s reputation as a firm family favourite, it's also good to know the hospitality extends to your fur friends too, with ‘spent grain dog treats’ ready to dish out to all good boys and girls!
Little Rippa Brewing Company, Mount Gambier.
Just on the outskirts of town, Little Rippa Brewing Company is a genuine go-to for small batch beers and delicious wood fired dining, with a rustic rural venue delivering killer views over the pristine pastures of Yahl.
Tapping into the naturally filtered waters of the Limestone Coast, these guys produce an extensive range of hand-built brews, making a tasting paddle a no-brainer when you’re swinging through. From lagers to pales and XPAs to IPAs, you’ll also find a couple of winter wonders here, with a special edition stout and Midnight Porter that really hit the spot. Oh, and for the genuine beer freak in all of us you can also snag yourself an old-school growler and fill it for the fridge back home!
Of course, a perfect pint needs a perfect meal and these guys can definitely deliver the goods, with a huge selection of wood oven pizzas and a seasonal menu that’s can include anything from local gummy shark and lamb koftas to redgum smoked chicken wings and house smoked burgers. Non-beer drinkers will also rejoice in a local wine and spirits list that features many of the ‘likely suspects’ you’ll read about below…
In Good Spirits: Craft Distilleries.
From beers to botanicals, we’ve all got a friend that loves a G+T (okay… it’s you, so keep reading)! Beyond the sneaky schooners and amber ales, the craft distilling scene here has taken off in recent years, and whether you’re beachside or inland, finding a tasty tipple is as easy as adding an ice cube.
In keeping with the low-key coolness of Robe, there’s a sneaky little surprise awaiting guests and visitors at Robe Holiday Park… Turns out that the park’s multi-tasking owner Anthony isn’t just the local electrician, he’s also a part-time distiller - and the quality of his Robe Gin has won plenty of friends around town. At the time of writing, his original ‘classic dry’ is the main draw, but with word getting around, it won’t be long before other flavours and styles join the stable.
Unpretentious and unconventional, you’ll find Robe Gin cellar door at the park’s reception desk, making it a short stagger back to your tent or cabin if your sips turn to fluent Swahili... Because hey, why have one glass when you can have two?
Once the kids are in bed, there’s a card table and a deck chair with your name on it just two rows down, so make the most of the opportunity! (just drink responsibly, okay)?
If you’re not staying within the park that’s totally fine, but it always pays to call and book a tasting in advance - particularly if there’s a few of you, and if you’re dining in and around town, you’ll also spot it on the list at popular spots like Sky Seafoods, Sails at Robe and Robe Town Brewery, to name but a few.
Beachport Spirit Co.
Remember the awesome Beachport Brewing Co we told you about earlier? Well… in even better news, they’re a distillery too - and you’ll find just like the beers, their Beachport Spirit Co. gins are as fresh as a Southern Ocean breeze!
With a shiny copper still producing the goods on site, the Classic Gin is smooth and subtle and sits perfectly with an ice-cold tonic, while the Ocean Gin infuses a few extra botanicals foraged from the ocean and coastline.
With kelp, saltbush and warrigal greens all part of the flavour profile, this drop also has a hint of blue that mimics the ocean, and with a little sunshine and a splash of soda you’ll think you just set sail to utopia. Just on that… bring along a captain (okay, driver). You might just be here a while!
St Mary’s Wines and Spirits, Penola.
Having been home to Australia’s very first saint, Mary MacKillop in the 1860’s it only makes sense that the spirits of the past continue making an impact on Penola. The Mulligan family have recently transformed their age-old vineyard into distillery, making St Mary’s Wines and Spirits an absolute must when you’re in town.
Putting its stellar wine heritage to one side, this family-owned boutique winery recently caught judges’ eyes at the 2021 GinNation and 2022 American Distilling Institute Awards and in their famous show garden outside you’ll find local art dotted between roses and greenery, making it the perfect spot to sit and sip for a while. Inconspicuously located just out of town, the range is both eclectic and extensive with gin connoisseurs left just as impressed as vodka lovers, who’ll relish the infused flavours of spiced pears, and oranges, plus rose petals, fresh from the garden!
If you’re looking for something particularly festive, the spiced cane spirit is bound to get your Christmas party started, while Mulligan’s Rum (a.k.a. the ‘Spirit of Penola’) also happens to be made on site and is available via the cellar door. Speaking of which, you’ll enjoy a real European vibe here, with the family home sitting just metres from the tasting bench (often the verandah) making this a truly intimate affair.
Sitting deep under the soils of a working sheep farm just ten minutes’ drive from Mount Gambier, Kilsby Sinkhole was once little more than a watering hole on the local stock route, but having been nurtured by the Kilsby family for four generations, these days it’s one of Earth’s most sought-after freshwater diving experiences.
But creating the dream ‘down under’ was only one part of this pioneering family’s plan, and these days, you’ll also find the sinkhole’s crystal-clear limestone-filtered water is a key ingredient in their unique and universally adored Sinkhole Gin. The brainchild of brothers Ben, Graham and two industrious mates, this local drop is a pure celebration of the Limestone Coast and its native botanicals, taking its main flavour profile from muntries – a tiny native cranberry that was once a staple of the Ngarrindjeri and Boandik people.
Taking it one step further, the team have also been busy planting other botanicals on site, ensuring future generations of Sinkhole Gin are both sustainable and spectacular! Oh, and did we mention they do a Limoncello too? Stunning over ice on a hot summer’s day, this sweet elixir of the Gods is packed with zesty farmhouse lemons and a perfect little aperitif.
While the mobile van and online shop are your best bet to secure a bottle of either (along with a wide range of pubs and restaurants throughout the region), watch this space for cellar door developments that are set to bring these babies closer to home, wait… hole. Whatever!