The Steam Exchange Company

South Australia seems to have more than its fair share of craft breweries in significant historical locations, and The Steam Exchange Brewery is no exception. It’s housed in a heritage-listed former railway goods shed next to Goolwa wharf and, in its heyday, it was a bustling transport hub linking the railway with the river port’s paddle-steamers. These days, most of the paddle-steamers are tourist boats and the goods rail line ceased operating between Adelaide and Victor Harbor in 1980. As it happened, Gareth Andrews was looking to set up a microbrewery somewhere in the state’s south coast region around the time the Alexandrina Council called for expressions of interest to develop the somewhat dilapidated wooden shed, which had been built in 1879. Renovations started in mid-2005, utilising the original timber frame, which features 15-metre-long Oregon beams. ‘The integrity of the building is still sound and is a tribute to the workmanship of a bygone era,’ reads the brewery’s website. A second-hand microbrewery plant was purchased from New Zealand and head brewer Simon Fennell first fired up the brewing kettle in late 2006. Fennell had previously worked for the Coonawarra-based Lawrence Victor Estate microbrewery.

Goolwa Wharf Precinct, 1 Cutting Road, Goolwa 5214 Tours by appointment; bar; restaurant; takeaways.

House Style

The regular quartet of Steam Ale, India Pale Ale, Stout and Southerly Buster Dark Ale are full-flavoured, with the latter a fruit-packed standout.

Signature Beer

Steam Exchange Steam Ale

Behind the Label

The laid-back, tootin’ steam whistle might have been lifted from the pages of the ’70s cult comic the Furry Freak Brothers but it neatly links the twin transport themes of steam locomotive and riverboat. Where the shed once saw goods transferred between the two forms of transport, these days it cranks out Steam Ale – a style of beer that originated in California but which has largely died out. Fennel uses shallow, open fermenters to replicate the ale/lager hybrid and hops the brew with US varieties. The fruity and yeasty notes are true to style but the generous hop presence makes the most emphatic statement.


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