By Rachel Wagner
December 4, 2020 | 5 minute read
Forrest Brewing Company
Breweries might just be the new wineries. There. We said it. You’ve got the bustling atmosphere. Good food. Good friends. Oh, and freshly brewed beers of course.
Regional Victoria has a slew of cool new breweries concocting experimental craft beers in some of the most beautiful destinations. From the middle of a forest to one of the state’s chicest wine regions, these are a few of our favourite spots to hit for a frothy cold one. You don’t even have to be a beer drinker to enjoy them (although it certainly helps.) Because we’re so thoughtful, we’ll even throw in a cidery for good measure. Cheers!
* At the time of writing, activities and places mentioned in this guide are at varying stages of recovery from COVID-19. Please check government and business websites for specific details on opening times and any restrictions before you travel.
Forrest Brewing Company - Otway Ranges
You’re flying through the Otway rainforest on your mountain bike. The thick canopy above you only lets a trickle of sun through but still you’re sweating. You’re thirsty. You roll out of the forest and into the town of Forrest and there it is. A micro brewery where you can stop and refuel with a thirst quenching beer and healthy snacks in the dining hall (or a pizza, you’ve earned it!)
Surrounded by 60km of trails, this rustic country brewery has become a popular haunt for mountain bikers. If you’re on four wheels not two, it’s well worth the 40 minute detour off the Great Ocean Road to visit this tiny town and try the craft beers.
Bright Brewery - Bright
The pretty little town of Bright with its alpine backdrop is a perennial holiday favourite. By summer you can explore the backcountry for some biking or hiking, in winter it’s a base for skiers and boarders. But the Bright Brewery? This is a spot you can enjoy year round.
You’ll find it on the banks of the Ovens River in the middle of town, where you can sit in the beer garden and enjoy live music on the weekends while you sip. They keep things as natural as possible, sourcing their ingredients locally and using fresh alpine water to make their beers. The result is bright and full flavoured brews.
While people rave about the pizzas, it’s the sharing boards that you’ll want to write home about. But only if you’re hungry. You won’t want to tackle the seafood packed Over Board if you’ve already filled up on beer.
Little Creatures - Geelong
Little Creatures is just a tiny independent brewer you’ve probably never heard of. Just kidding. These beer merchants first popped up on a former crocodile farm in Fremantle WA in 2000, blew the town away with their incredibly tasty pale ales and have been slinging beers to Australians ever since. Their new home inside an old wool mill in Geelong has proved just as popular.
Little Creatures calls itself ‘the Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory of beers’ and that’s pretty accurate once you see what’s inside. On this huge industrial block is a village filled with laneways where you can find markets, live music, a cinema, the big Little Creatures canteen and their sister brewery, White Rabbit.
Take a tour and watch the brewers at work or enjoy the pizzas and tasty sharing plates on offer in the canteen. The craft beers are really just the beginning here.
Napoleone Brewery and Cider House - Yarra Valley
This cheeky interloper has been slowly changing perceptions about the Yarra Valley, shifting from making wine, to cider and now beer. The Napoleone family are third generation fruit growers and whichever tipple they pursue - they do it well. Think of it as a one-stop, non-denominational booze shop.
The Coldstream cellar door is housed in a rustic old 1860s dairy, surrounded by an apple and pear orchard. Tour the working brewery or visit the brand new Orchard Bar housed in a shipping container among the Pink Lady apple trees. Grab a cocktail or try their Louis cider which is cold-pressed with no added sugar - just pure appley goodness. Yum.
Salt Brewery at the Aireys Pub - Great Ocean Road
If you’re cruising down the Great Ocean Road, you’d be remiss not to pop into the Airey’s Pub. The iconic coastal pub is home to microbrewery Salt Brewing Co as well as a restaurant serving gourmet pub fare.
When a group of mates found out their favourite pub was closing down, they all chipped in to save it. Instead of serving the international beers that featured heavily on all the big pub’s menus, they decided to go rogue and start making their own.
The beer is made by surfers, for surfers. Patrons are encouraged to come in sandy toed, leave their board at the door and tuck into some good food and small batch beers. Grab a tasting paddle (it’s shaped like a surfboard which is very on theme) and sample some brews in the big beer garden. The Ink stout infused with coffee beans freshly roasted on site is a must try.
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