South Coast Brewing Co will officially launch in McLaren Vale this weekend, joining the hub of breweries popping up along Australia’s southern coastline.
Located in Willunga, South Australia, South Coast Brewing was founded by chief brewer Scott Zrna, assistant brewer Mark Sorrell and sales manager Brett Doonan.
Zrna is no stranger to fermentation and has been working as a winemaker for 26 years. He’s been grain brewing in his backyard for four years now, where he’s rigged up a little keg system with a couple of taps.
While the name South Coast might be self-evident, the boys wanted something that would identify them as a local brewery.
“The idea was not to become the latest and greatest craft brewery, it was more to be a locally independent brewery that local people identified with,” Zrna explains.
“That then is something that connects us with the local community.”
The aim for South Coast is not to make the best craft beer on the market, but to make good beer that everyone can enjoy.
With four beers under their belts, the South Coast team has named each one after the local area.
The Southern Pale Ale is an homage to the beaches along the south coast. As blonde as the sands of the region, this session ale exhibits summery floral notes and an easy drinking palate to sweep across your taste buds like a coastal getaway.
“One of the things we love to do is kick back with a beer and watch the sun fall into the sea while sitting on a nice beach somewhere,” Zrna says.
The Porties Pale Ale is more of a “standard” pale and is named after the town known to non-locals as Port Noarlunga. With a golden hue and length and depth of flavour as long as the Port’s famous jetty, this pale personifies the area.
Maslin’s Red Ale is a tribute to Australia’s first officially designated unclad beach, located right down the southern end.
“It’s an institution down here, so we thought we should honour that,” Zrna says.
“We have a bit of a joke about red ales to make sure you bring your sunscreen so all your other bits don’t go red.”
The dry hopped Sou’westerly Bitter Ale is named after the ice-cold winds that blow in across the coast.
“They’re very chilly coming up from Antarctica, so a nice warming ale can counter balance that.”
South Coast has been open “on the sly” for the past four weeks. Zrna, Sorrell and Doonan have been making sure everything in the brewery is working alright and getting the systems functioning properly for an actual serving situation.
Zrna is delighted that there is now such a “critical mass” of breweries operating in the area. He estimates that there are five breweries open or about to open, with guys starting to look at running brewery tours.
“There’s enough here to make it sort of worth people’s while to sort of come down and try a few things.”
The brewery has taken six months to put together.
Zrna says the equipment is mostly second hand. There isn’t a lot of second-hand equipment out there.
“We had to scour the countryside for bits and pieces,” he says.
“It’s quite an eclectic mix of stuff.”
The warehouse is pretty small, which has made it imperative to keep things compact, portable and on wheels.
“Our MO has always been to make best use of the space and we’ve managed to do it quite cost effectively.”
“You can basically sit at the bar and see the equipment in and behind the bar,” and basically see it all happening.”
The brewery has a 500-litre system and two 750-litre and one 1,200-litre conical tanks. They also have a little brine system and a heat exchanger.
The next step for South Coast is to get a bottling line so it can start getting some packaged product out. The team has decided to go down the bottling path.
“We’re sort of older guys and more traditional in our style and branding.”
“We’re not the pop-art type thing, so we thought bottles were more appropriate for what we wanted to do.”
The team has launched a Pozible campaign with hopes of raising enough funds to keep the machine that it has borrowed.
For now, local bars and pubs can purchase South Coast beer in kegs, delivered by the team.
South Coast Brewing Co is located at Unit 1/11 Jay Drive Willunga, South Australia and will officially open this Saturday night.