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Shifty Lizard taps growing craft beer market with new venue

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South Australian craft brewery Shifty Lizard is opening a new taphouse venue in Willunga, with plans to boost production and extend its range of beers.

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Founded by good mates Lee Stone and Danny Strapps, who grew up together in the Onkaparinga area, Shifty Lizard celebrated its first birthday last month.

Its main line is a pale ale, sold in cans and brewed under licence by Vale Brewing. It also produces an IPA, a stout (“Stouty McStout Face) and a red ale (“Hoppy Irish Red Ale”), which are bottled in a microbrewery out the back of Stone’s Old Noarlunga home. The beers all have colourful labels featuring Strapps’ distinctive artwork.

“We’ve had a really great response,” Stone says, adding that winning a bronze award for both the pale ale and the IPA at last year’s Royal Adelaide Beer & Cider Awards helped increase the label’s profile.

“Originally we thought we might not open a taphouse for another two or three years, but we’re having trouble keeping up with demand.”

The Shifty Lizard Taphouse, located in a former butcher’s shop on Willunga’s High Street, is scheduled to open this weekend to coincide with Stage Five of the Tour Down Under, which travels from McLaren Vale to Willunga Hill on Saturday.

The space will include a microbrewery at the rear, while the front-of-house area has a bar and is licensed for 75 people. It will sell mainly Shifty Lizard beers, and plans to also serve platter food highlighting local produce.

The new Shifty Lizard Taphouse in Willunga. Photo: supplied

Stone says the interior space of the building has been completely renovated, with polished floors, a tiled bar, pendant lighting, and a largely monochromatic colour palette including charcoal walls.

“It’s very boutique, very modern … we have a large front window, so there will be a lot of natural light coming through and a bench running the length of the window.”

Stone, whose dream of starting a microbrewery was born while working for breweries in the UK as a beer dispense technician, is Shifty Lizard’s self-described “head beer maker man”, while designer and illustrator Strapps, based in Melbourne, is “branding maker man”.

Some of Strapps’ framed artwork – the original sketches for the Shifty Lizard labels – will adorn the walls of the taphouse.

Stone says the brewery is investing in new equipment so it can increase production of its current bottled beers as well as introducing new lines, such as a barrel-aged stout (aged in Shiraz barrels), slated for release in May, and a New England IPA and Session Ale, planned for next summer. He’d also like to try a raspberry wheat beer.

“It’s quite important to keep bringing out new products on a regular basis – it keeps the punters happy and interested in what you’re doing.”

Shifty Lizard beers are currently sold mainly in South Australia and through a few venues in Victoria, but Stone and Strapps are keen to extend their reach into other states. And ultimately, if all goes to plan, in another couple of years SA might see a larger Shifty Lizard brewery, taphouse and restaurant.

The Shifty Lizard Taphouse will launch with a private function this Friday afternoon (January 19), after which it will be open to the public from 8.30pm-11pm; it will also open from 10.30am-11pm on Saturday (during the Tour Down Under) and from 10.30am-7pm on Sunday.

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