The Barossa Valley requires an initiation of sorts, over several years, with many guides, whereas Greenock is simple: start at the pub.
Why didn’t people tell us to go Greenock before now?
This weekend the Barossa Seasons program of quarterly events kicks off in the town of Greenock (an hour’s drive from the city) with Pub Garden Picnic. The event will do what it says on the box, but the name of the event does very little to reveal just how excellent a pub and town and community Greenock is.
For the full picture – like so much of the Barossa – you’ve got to go and experience it for yourself.
We drove out to Greenock on a Tuesday after talking with publican Andy Adams on a Monday.
“Look, you can’t go the full hipster out here,” Andy tells us, as a way of qualifying the changes he and his parents have made since taking over The Greenock Creek Tavern three years ago.
“There’re probably 10 pubs in the Barossa but only one or two taps – total – dedicated to craft beer,” says Andy. The Greenock put in three craft taps in their front bar after they re-negotiated the pub’s relationship with Lion Nathan and re-named the hotel. The sky hasn’t fallen in.
The Greenock’s event on Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th of January will feature Greenock Brewers and Western Ridge Brewing pouring their own beer along with winemakers from Max & Me Wines and Seabrook Wines. There’s a legit-looking smoker docked out the back in the oversize beer garden that’ll get fired up too, but still the dot points on Pub Garden Picnic might struggle to convince city-slickers to travel beyond their comfortable 20-minutes-to-anywhere radius.
Western Ridge Draught is made with “99% local ingredients” says Andy Adams, including Barossa Valley Craft Malt which we wrote about here.
But, let us assure you, Greenock is worth the drive.
“I grew up in Greenock,” says Barossa Seasons creative producer Sam Wright, “and the town has changed dramatically in just two years.”
“Did you check out El Estanco, it’s a café run by a Colombian bloke?” Sam asks. When we tell Sam, ‘No’, he has a genuine sadness in his voice, “Oh, that’s a shame.” Sam says the Main Street of Greenock is packed with cars on a Friday night and everyone is there eating at El Estanco and drinking at The Greenock, it’s buzzy in a way like he’s never seen his hometown before.
Separate from Sam’s endorsement, Andy confirms El Estanco’s impact. It’s a “full locavore” concept Andy tells us, and it’s popularity has meant his pub has had to lift its game and offering on a Friday night to compete. This isn’t a problem but a blessing in Andy’s eyes.
“I think the old attitude in business is to run out the competition, but with more reasons for people to go out and eat out and drink out, the better it is for the town and the community,” says Andy.
The Barossa is known for its German roots, but – founded in 1851 – Greenock is named for the town on the River Clyde in Scotland. For a long time, the town was known as Little Scotland in the Barossa and, looking at the architecture and the impeccable paint jobs and beautifully tidy streets and quaint scale of the place, you can really feel a sense of pride the locals take in this place. Greenock is a quintessential village.
The Post Office, The Lauke Feed factory, Greenock Brewers and Kalleske Cellar door (all photographed in the slide show above) are – simply put – immaculate and very photogenic.
This pride of place flows through in the way the town bands together and, in particular, the way in which Andy and his family run the pub.
“If you spend a dollar with us, we’ll spend a dollar with you,” says Andy over lunch. We’re tucking into the house-made pie and a pub-classic: chicken schnitzel.
The pie is steak and onion and it’s a collaboration with Joe and Sue Evans of Ballycroft Vineyard and Cellars. You drive past Ballycroft’s cellar door, on the left, just after you exit the Sturt Highway before entering Greenock.
The pub changes the pie every season or so, with Kalleske’s rabbit pie selling best, so far.
“It’s funny,” says Andy. “The pies that tend to sell the best are the recipes from people in town that everyone likes.”
Andy describes Rieslingfreak winemaker John Hughes’ pie; a creamy chicken, spring onion thing that went gangbusters for the pub. CityMag has written about John previously but totally missed the fact that John was a contestant on Masterhchef in 2011. It was Andy at The Greenock who revealed this oversight to us.
It’s embarrassing to admit we missed that key bit of information about John’s past but not as embarrassing as not knowing he’d designed a delicious chicken pie for the menu of the Greenock pub and that we’d never get to try that pie – itself worth the drive from Adelaide.
Greenock is like that, full of delicious opportunities that you’d be sad if you missed out on them.