Mrs Mac and I have just returned from a short but very enjoyable stay at the Pike River Villas in the Riverland (highly recommended if you are looking for somewhere to really down tools and relax… http://pikeriver.com.au/ ). It will by now come as no surprise that time was found to pay a visit to the Woolshed Brewery at Murtho, a place that has been on my to-do list for some time.

Woolshed Brewery was established in 2009, making it among the older craft breweries in South Australia. The brewery is situated on the banks of the River Murray on beautiful grounds that were previously part of the Wilkadene sheep and wheat property. The bar itself is located in the original shearing shed, built from local native pine.

There is plenty of outdoor and indoor seating, and it is unbelievably relaxing to pull up a seat looking out over the river watching houseboats and other river traffic cruising lazily by (with quite a few more being moored right out front) while sipping fine beers that were freshly made only a few yards away. All of the beers, as well as Woolshed Brewery’s ‘Utopia’ range that includes alcoholic lemonade and an apple and pear cider, are made using sustainable practices and contain no preservatives or additives.

The core range of beers currently includes the flagship ‘Amazon Ale’ (4.5% ABV) which is a classic Australian pale ale, the delicious, dark-chocolate-y ‘Judas the Dark’ (4.7% ABV) whose ingredients include roasted local wattle seeds, a Kolsch style ‘Summer Ale’ (4.5% ABV) and the fearsomely named ‘Cherax Destructor’ IPA (5.8%). Cherax Destructor is actually the scientific name for the humble yabby, the very tasty freshwater crayfish that is particularly abundant in this part of the world. The beer itself is hopped up and full of tropical fruit salad flavour balanced with punchy bitterness.

A recent addition is the ‘River Time’ session pale ale (3.5% ABV), which Mrs Mac found to be very much to her liking. Nicely hopped, some citrus overtones and a clean, bitter finish, River Time is exactly what it sets out to be, namely a great and flavoursome session ale.

One-off brews also periodically appear (a wheat beer brewed with Riverland oranges was on offer on the day of our visit) while among their seasonal brews is the stunning ‘Firehouse’ coffee stout (5.6% ABV) brewed in conjunction with a local Riverland roaster using single origin Columbian coffee beans.

Accommodation is available at the nearby Wilkadene Coattage, and houseboats are also available for hire. Check out the website at http://www.aboverenmark.com.au for more information. Alternatively, if you happen to be staying in Renmark or Paringa (or indeed if you happen to be lucky enough to live in those fine townships) you might want to check out the recently launched Amazon Run Shuttle Bus which offers inexpensive transport to and from the Woolshed Brewery and other stops.

And lastly, just some words of appreciation to the extremely welcoming, accommodating and knowledgeable young lady who was looking after the bar (by herself) on the afternoon that we called through and for whom nothing was too much trouble (including helping Mrs Mac to lug the take-aways out to the car). And so for capping off our visit… many thanks indeed.

Jimmy Mac