Inside a disused fish factory along the Limestone Coast is Robe Town Brewery – a boutique brewery that has created a niche spot for itself within the South Australian beer scene.
Having launched operations in 2013, Robe Town Brewery is the only commercial brewery in Australia to brew using a wood-fire kettle. It brews using historical equipment and methods, combining for a unique brewing style that truly puts the ‘craft’ back into craft beer.
Brewer, Maris Biezaitis, has worked as a translator, chef, journalist, graphic designer, copywriter and handyman, but discovered brewing during his time living in Latvia. It was here that he started improvising with local ingredients and a range of brewing equipment, finding a passion for creating unique brews. The brewery is a partnership run together with his wife Kristi, who has a strong passion for art and more than a decade of experience in advertising and project management, but this is their first venture into the brewing game.
The pair took the name of an historic brewery in Robe that operated during the 1860s. The original brewery would have used a similar process to what is used today, and the ode to its name is a testament to the intertwining of the modern with the past.
Maris and his team curate their beer through traditional methods such as straw filtration in oak-barrel mash tuns, a wood-fire kettle, open fermentation and natural bottle-carbonation. While Maris describes the unique brewing process as painstakingly slow, he ensures it is made with lots of energy, love and attention channeled towards making quality artisan ales.
Robe Town has a distinct terroir that gives its products a certain authenticity. The brewery uses only Australian made malt and Australian grown hops, as well as other locally sourced ingredients. The natural energy of the wood-fired kettle, as well as subtle flavours produced from the oak barrel mash tun, straw filtration and open fermentation all curate a distinctive relishing taste for its brews. The brewing process is finished off with weeks and even months of bottle conditioning.
Robe Town’s products include Shearer’s Joy – its take on a colonial ale using partial sour mash, horehound, ginger and potatoes; an aromatic Pale Ale using traditional ale malt and classic hops; Amber Ale – a dark and full-bodied drop with rich, caramelised dark crystal malt flavours and spicy hop notes; Shipwreck Stout – a smooth-drinking stout with earthy notes of coffee, dark plums and smokey liquorice; and a high-gravity Baltic Porter that your taste buds will sail the Seven Seas for.
Tastings of these ales, as well as new products in development are available at the brewery cellar door, which is open for guests to see the brewing process up close, chat to the brewers and enjoy a full-flavoured beverage.
The creative team behind this little, rustic and quirky brewery has set a distinctive stake in the thriving independent craft beer market. While its beer is all about going back to basics, Robe Town’s honest approach is producing flavoursome brews that taste far from simple.