Day four in Adelaide ended up being a real education in wine and beer production – something which Adelaide seems to do very well!
Our visit to the final of the big three South Australian universities, The University of Adelaide, took us up to the Waite Campus which offers a course in Wine Making (renowned as No.1 in Australia) and Wine Marketing (I know, we couldn’t believe it either). From studying the optimum soil conditions for grape growth, to marketing the finished product, this course has everything you could ever want to know about wine. The students do two vintages a year, also producing their own wine (choosing the style, grape variety, time of picking etc).
We were able to visit the on-campus vineyards, wine production facilities and the research lab, and all our questions were answered by Dr Kerry Wilkinson of the School of Agriculture, Food & Wine who gave us a fascinating tour. It seemed to be the ideal location to study wine, seeing as South Australia is the wine capital of Australia, producing almost a half of its wine and responsible for some 60% of Australian wine exports.
We also visited the City Campus (the second out of the four The University of Adelaide has around Adelaide), which was a beautiful mixture of old and new; buildings which had been around for some 135 years and are maintained in their original condition (even down to the same carpet pattern!), and contemporary constructions which had clearly been built with students in mind.
We marvelled at ‘The Hub’, a space designed by students for students, which incorporated features such as a napping area, a skype room, small informal study spaces and kitchen facilities to prepare your own food. We found ourselves extremely jealous that these facilities had not yet extended over to the UK…
After a quick iced coffee and a bite to eat from one of the many food outlets in The Hub, we jumped headed over to Cooper’s brewery.
Frank our guide supplied us all with totally fashionable Cooper’s fluorescent vests, so there was little chance of us sneaking off and helping ourselves to the beer. We were told Coopers is recognised as the largest home-brew producer in the world. The history of the brewery started in 1852 when the Coopers family moved to South Australia. Because their beers are made with only the best Australian ingredients (malt, hops, yeast etc) without the use of any additives or preservatives, it was originally intended for medicinal purposes.
After this brief history lesson we made our way through the swelteringly hot brewery (which can apparently get to 55°C in the summer!) and were informed of every stage of the production. We definitely felt we had earned our beer tasting session (which thankfully took place in a suitably air conditioned room). What we found very interesting (and unusual) is that Coopers beers are marked with a ‘best after’ date (as opposed to the generally known ‘best before’), this is due to the second fermentation process which happens after the beer has been bottled (which is why their Ales always have some sediment on the bottom of the bottle).
In true Aussie style, Frank even offered to give us a lift home – yet another example of the friendly attitude you find again and again in Adelaide.