It takes a lot of beer to make wine…nicotine addictions come and go, but the thirst for beer never leaves us...
For nigh on 27 years, Des Hooper has been making booze on the edge of the Great Southern Ocean on the Limestone Coast. In close proximity to Robe and Kingston, the lifestyle here is as refreshing as the salt from the waves he’s surfed since settling here in 1993.
His beer production began in 2014, when he, and a couple of mates played around with mash brewing in an old warehouse at the back of the Cape Jaffa Winery – Derek’s other booze company right next door. Dave Murdock, a mate of his, had built a three-vessel brew system which could crank out 50 litres of beer at a time. It was basic, but it did the trick and it whet his beer production appetite.
Meanwhile, Tom O’Reilly was busy brewing beer for Stone & Wood. In addition to brewing good quality beer, he quite fancied making mead in his own time. Whilst making mead, Tom caught wind of a mythical town called Robe - He was told if you could find a job there, the balance of work and play was plausible. He got in touch with Des and earned a job at Cape Jaffa Wines, where he learnt about white wine production to add to his repertoire. Des had no idea Tom could brew but as soon as this came to light, the inevitable occurred. Tom was allotted an area at the back of the winery in a warehouse, which became known as the brewhouse.
Des realised he had within his limestone riddled paddocks, a natural aquifer. The water is delicious, filtered for millions of years and pure as can be so, into the beer it went. Recipes were honed and trials began. Loophole supplied its first keg at Easter, 2015 to the Cape Jaffa Wines cellar door (a pleasant surprise for those arrivals preferring a beer to wine!) and to the local watering holes in Robe, the Caledonian Inn and the Crown Inn Hotel, in Kingston SE.
Fast forward a few years and beer sales improved so much, that Des bit the bullet and built Tom a proper brew house – He just needed a brand to match. Tom was happy, he was brewing beer with a freedom to flex his brewing talents and, he now lived in Robe - it wasn’t a myth. Des was happy, he was making great wine and now great beer and still managing to catch an early morning wave and raise his children on his nearby farm. Both beer lovers, they’d seized opportunities and escaped everyday life. They’d found their Loopholes.
Pictured: Des Hooper and Tom O'Reilly