Willunga – pubs, grub and tap houses

Beaches and vineyards

The South Australians really know how to do the whole beer, wine, spirit and food thing. In between driving along the beaches of the Fleurieu Peninsula, walking on granite islands and visiting the Mouth of the Murray river – we visited the odd taphouse, vineyard and distillery. My daughters are great travelling companions because they indulge my penchant for the occasional brewery – the least I can do is return the favour.

Like mellow man

Down the Rabbit Hole” vineyard was one the better vineyard experiences. Patrons are invited to lie on rugs and sip their wine and eat their food. Hipster types float around blissfully serving you and it felt like what I imagine being in an endless Angus and Julie Stone video clip.

The Willunga Hotel and ginger beer

The Fleurieu is a compact place. Coast to vineyard is often not more than 15 minutes along lovely roads surrounded by vineyards. In the heart of it all is the town of Willunga. Gave me the vibe of Bangalow with its long street running up the hill. I’d look at staying at Willunga next time I visit this wonderful area. Three pubs, two tap houses and plenty of cafes, restaurants and galleries. Plenty for everyone.

The Shifty Lizard Taphouse and the South Coast Brewing Co are about a 500m walk from each other. Along the way you pass the 1868 Willunga Hotel. Classic pub where I tried a ginger beer from the nearby Ekhidna winery that also dabbles in beer.

Shifty selection

I had high hopes for South Coast Brewing. They name their beers after many of the local beaches and towns. Maslin Beach is quite remarkable (but was cold and deserted) and is SA’s first “unclad” beach. I love a Red Ale and was delighted to see the Maslin’s Red Ale on tap. Great looking beer, but a little underwhelming. No tasters at South Coast (or merch – could have been the perfect souvenir of a beach and beer experience). I would have broken my “must be under $30” t-shirt rule if they’d sold a Cockle Diver Ale shirt. This a beer named after the best names country Aussie Rules side I’ve heard – the Port Noarlunga Cockle Divers.

Shifty scenes

The Shifty Lizard Taphouse was a whole other story. They’d geared up for OktoberFest and the staff were dirndeled up. Tasters are offered and there’s plenty of laminated explanations of each beer and its name scattered on the tables. The food at both venues looked really good – but a feast awaited us in the evening. Beer of the Day was their Shouty McShoutface Stout. Just brilliant. And probably stout of the year. They do a great line of merch amd I love it when the stickers are free.

Cockle Diver Ale

Down the Rabbit Hole: 233 Bonney Road, McLaren Vale

The Willunga Hotel: 3-5 High Street, Willunga, SA

The Shifty Lizard Taphouse: 33 High Street, Willunga, SA

The South Coast Brewing Co.: 8 Hill Street, Willunga, SA