Watsacowie Brewing Co is the first brewery to open in South Australia’s Yorke Peninsula region, billed as ‘the barley capital of the world’.
Husband and wife co-owners Brendan and Roxanne Phasey purchased the old Minlaton Highway Department depot, and repurposed it into a brewery and cellar door.
They thought the Yorke Peninsula was a prime location given it produces some of the best malting barley in the world, Roxanne Phasey told Brews News.
“The wonderful thing about opening up in a previously untapped market is… a lot of the locals here haven’t experienced craft beer before, and are finally seeing the excitement around it,” Phasey said.
She said the brewery has been blessed with the support of the local community, so much so that within the first three weeks of trade, the team almost ran out of beer that was supposed to last another six weeks.
Watsacowie’s 8 hectolitre brewhouse is the original brew kit from the former James Squire Brewhouse located at Sydney’s King Street Wharf, complete with the original oak cladding.
Phasey said that despite having to rework some of its engineering, the 20-year-old brewery was is in a well kept state.
Watsacowie has nine taps in its bar that are currently pouring four beers; a hefeweizen, a kolsch, a lager and an India red ale.
Professional brewer and beer judge Justin Murdock was originally brought on as a consultant but is now head brewer at Watsacowie.
‘Cowie’ is an Aboriginal word for ‘water’ or ‘place of water’. Its use in the brand name is a nod to the region and Phasey family nostalgia.
“Brendan and his father were home brewing for years, and when Brendan’s parents moved here 11 years ago, the word ‘cowie’ used to be everywhere,” Roxanne Phasey said.
“We would often say, ‘what the hell is a cowie’?! So that’s what Mr. Phasey called his home brew and we had to stay true to that, hence the name.”
Phasey described the taproom as ‘vintage but with a country feel’, using materials for the bar and furniture from a 100-year-old shearing shed.
The brewery collaborates with local businesses to provide snacks and food to patrons. It is open Friday to Sunday, 11am to 6pm.
Brewery openings are presented by Spark Breweries and Distilleries, the finest in-venue and production brewing systems available, with local design and support.