By Marc Llewellyn
When an ale crafted by her de facto husband, Frank Samson, was named supreme champion beer at last year’s International Beer Challenge in London, Prancing Pony Brewery CEO Corinna Steeb was “blown away”.
“We didn’t anticipate it,” she says. “It was pretty amazing. We beat thousands of beers from around 30 countries. Some of them are big names, from places like Scotland and America, and also from Germany.”
Prancing Pony’s India Red Ale first won a gold medal, then the trophy for best ale, before taking out the top prize. The brewery’s Black Ale won a silver medal.
It was the first time Prancing Pony had entered the competition.
“The India Red Ale is what’s called a double IPA, which means it’s very hoppy and, at 7.9 per cent, it’s high in alcohol,” Steeb says. “It’s beautifully balanced, though, with a fruity aroma and a flavour that really lingers. A special kind of malt gives it the red colour.”
The champion brewery
Steeb was surprised by the beer’s success because the brewery, based in Totness in the Adelaide Hills, has only been running commercially for four years.
The brew team, headed by Frank Samson, crafts seven core beers in small batches, as well as one-off and seasonal beers.
“If you’re a commercial brewer and always making the same brews you don’t have the opportunity to experiment with different styles,” Steeb says.
As well as winning the top award in brewing last year, Steeb and Samson – who both migrated to Australia from Stuttgart in southern Germany 35 years ago – also imported a 30-hectolitre BrauKon brewhouse from the country where they were born.
“This means we can brew more beer than before, to keep up with increasing demand,” Steeb says. “We can also produce German-style wheat beers, and Octoberfest-style beers.”
With names such as Sledgehammer Imperial Pilsner and Rusty Panzer, Steeb and Samson certainly pay homage to their German roots.
Taste the beers in the Brewshed
The Brewshed, the Prancing Pony’s atmospheric bar and eatery, occupies part of the Prancing Pony’s factory-like building, situated in an industrial estate.
Taking up the rest of the space is a kitchen, the brewing equipment, and the fermentation tanks – all in full view.
As you sit at one of the rustic old wooden tables that soften the industrial surrounds, you can often see the brewers at work, mashing, bottling and labelling.
You can buy beer from the tap or by the bottle, or you can opt for a tasting palette featuring the core beers.
Of course, in typical German style, the brewery has a beer garden too.
Prancing Pony offers guided brewery tours and beer tasting experiences on Sundays. You can arrange tours at other times if you are in a group of eight or more.
Strap on your feedbag
Beer also gallops into the picture when food is served at the Prancing Pony Brewery.
“Everything we make is cooked in beer or has a sauce that has beer in it,” Steeb says enthusiastically.
“We serve small bites, burgers, regional tasting platters and solid family fare.
“We specialise is using only local ingredients, but we try to make authentically German food too. A German baker makes our bread. A German butcher makes our sausages.”
German sausages appear on the menu in different forms. Among them is currywurst, a chopped up sausage covered in a sauce sprinkled with curry powder.
Burgers also make a strong showing. “We recommend ales to go with them,” Steeb says. “As for German food, well, we suggest German beer, of course.”
And why is the brewery called Prancing Pony? It’s all thanks to a horse that used to look through the window of Samson’s original brewing shed.
The Prancing Pony Brewery is open from 10am to 6pm Monday to Wednesday, 10am to 10pm from Thursday to Saturday, and from 10am to 8pm on Sundays.
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