Hills beer named best in world

By Andrew Spence

The expansion strategy of a boutique brewer in South Australia has received a massive boost after its India Red Ale was named the best beer in the world.

Prancing Pony Brewery’s 7.9 per cent abv India Red Ale has this week been awarded the Supreme Champion prize at the International Beer Challenge in London after claiming the Trophy for Best Ale Above 5 per cent abv.

The timing is impeccable for the brewery, located at Totness in the Adelaide Hills, as it comes just months after it installed a 30-hectolitre BrauKon brewhouse, which has enabled it to boost production to up to 3 million litres a year – 20 times its previous capacity.

“Yesterday the India Red was free for all the customers who came in – we were a bit over the moon,” Prancing Pony CEO Corinna Steeb says.

“We were brewing India Red yesterday incidentally so it was very befitting and we just made a double batch straight away so we could cope with some of the increase in demand that the beer will probably have over the next couple of months.”

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Husband and wife team Frank Samson and Corinna Steeb at Prancing Pony Brewery (Picture: John Kruger)

The India Red Ale is based on ‘American Imperial Double Red Ale’ according to the British Ale Style Guide. With a dark red brownish colour, a firm creamy head and lots of fruity aromas on the nose, it has a big, malty body with late bitterness.

It was the first time Prancing Pony had entered the International Beer Challenge where its stablemate Black Ale collected a silver medal.

“We entered because we wanted to see how our beers travelled but to win a champion trophy against an international field – there were beers entered from 30 countries – was something you dream of so we are a bit gobsmacked still,” Corinna says.

While the India Red Ale is not Prancing Pony’s biggest seller, Corinna says it has long been the hero of the stable and had quite a cult following.

“It’s got a pretty amazing following and it’s one of the beers people take with them when they travel,” she says.

“People send us pictures of the beer in India, in China, Vietnam and London, which we find quite amusing.”

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Prancing Pony beers are available in more than 600 outlets in Australia and exported to the UK, Hong Kong, Germany and Singapore.

Corinna says the brewery has fielded a lot of international inquiries in recent months, but is careful to only choose distribution partners committed to ensuring the quality of the beer is maintained.

“Exports were previously opportunistic but now it’s highly likely we will pursue it a bit more aggressively and develop a strategy,” she says.

“I just want to make sure that whoever takes our beer keeps them refrigerated and stored appropriately and they don’t end up in a warehouse where sunlight will hit it and the quality will be spoilt.

“We ship our product refrigerated, which is an extra cost to us, but it just ensures you end up with a really good product at the other end.

“We take export quite seriously and we investigate the countries and the distributors thoroughly before we go ahead.”

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Established in 2012, Prancing Pony Brewery moved to its current location at Totness, about 30 km east of Adelaide, in 2015 and has gone from strength to strength.

“We’ve always planned to become a sizeable brewery and be a major contributor to the craft beer industry in Australia,” Corinna says.

“Part of us getting the larger brewhouse was the demand on our product – we just couldn’t keep up with the brewing and we had many interstate and international inquiries.

“We just jumped off the deep end and decided we would get the brewing equipment set up in preparation so we could fulfil the demand.”

Main headline image: John Kruger

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