The Exeter Hotel perhaps best embodies the winemaking mantra that “it takes a lot of beer to make good wine.” Long a haunt for winemakers, wine writers and wine lovers, the Exeter is one of Adelaide’s most beloved establishments, and one where any affectation is left at the door. The Exeter knocked any wine drinking pretention on the head long ago, with its tradition of offering this country’s best-priced Krug served in a butcher glass (that’s a ‘seven’ or a ‘glass’ to Victorian beer drinkers, and 200 ml to everyone else). So much of a tradition is this that the walls are lined with spent Krug bottles, but this is a fraction of what has passed over the bar, with it being the biggest account for the king of Champagne in Australia for quite some time.
It is said that it was the great wine writer Philip White that cajoled the then owners into including the luxury wine on the chalkboard back in the 1980s, and it is perhaps White’s persona of everyman intellectual that sums the Exeter well, with deep foundations unfussed by the vanity of trend.
The entire Coopers’ line-up is tapped at the Exeter, with a range of craft beer and ciders mainly in bottle, and with a cant to the local. The same can be said for the wine list, with a compact 50-strong offering that features small independent growers and makers, and some that have a deep history with the pub, making their wines immovable fixtures. Aside from Champagne, the list is all Australian, with 18 wines available by the glass.
The Exeter is one of Adelaide’s most popular live music venues, with something on every night of the week. It boasts a popular kitchen, with counter classics joined by house-made pies and quite legendary curries, which do a takeover every Wednesday night on the balcony. There’s a beer garden, iconic public bar… it’s a pub, done right. There are few establishments that truly deserve to be classed as institutions, but the Exeter Hotel is firmly near the top of that list.