Located in north-east Victoria, Beechworth is in the heart of one of the state’s many “food and wine” countries. The citizens of Beechworth have also realised that good beer is a thing and have truly added “beer” to the list as well.
There are four breweries within about an hour’s drive to Beechworth. We managed to hit two of them as well as a few of the nicer establishments in town.
Yes, we only hit two of the four breweries, but, it can also be said that we managed to hit half the breweries in the area. Unfortunately this wasn’t specifically a beer adventure, just an adventure, and breweries weren’t the specific target of the weekend.
Part of this is because north-east Victoria has so much more to offer including what we saw:
- Milawa Cheese Company
- Milawa Mustards
- A giant gorge running through Beechworth
- Catching up with friends and family
- The old prison
However, amongst all this, there was good beer to be found, sometimes in surprising places…
Bridge Road Brewers are really the dominant players in the region. They’re one of the longest standing and produce some very interesting brews.
The brewery has many standards that they produce year round, as well as quite a few more seasonal and one off beers. Visiting the brewery is a must as you might just stumble upon something unusual or hard to get.
Bridge Road Brewers has been doing quite a few collaborations with the likes of Nøgne ø and To Øl from Norway and Denmark respectively and there’s some unusual stuff on tap to try. Also, with such a diverse range of beers, it can often be hard to find all of Bridge Road’s beers in one place, so it was good to grab a few that we’d missed elsewhere.
The good and the bad was that we found an extremely unusual beer on tap. A very limited amount of kegs had been made but we managed to score it our first night and decided to come back the next day for another. Sadly, the next day it was gone… All this without making a note of the name. And it will never be seen again.
However, this is the beauty of great beer: it’s fleeting. With a little bit of effort, at least the name of the beer could probably be tracked down (it was a one off batch, so it won’t be found again), however, not knowing adds to the mystery!
Edit: the mystery is solved! Bridge Road Brewers were kind enough to tell me Nieuw Bruin cognac barrel aged brown ale in collaboration with 8 Wired Brewing. And here’s the kicker – it’s coming out in bottles! Look out for this beer, it was killer.
For anyone looking to try this brewery out, be warned, there are no signs. There is a nondescript dirt road that leads to another dirt road. Then a dirt driveway (for the winery) that leads to a barn. In the barn there is beer and wine.
As mentioned, Black Dog Brewery are new and therefore still developing their style a bit. Because of this they only have a handful of styles at the moment, but they’ll probably be coming out with more in time.
Their style is good, but nothing to really differentiate themselves from other brewers. However, their head brewer comes from a wine making background and has a good appreciated of the science and craft behind any great beverage, so they’ll get there quickly.
Another word of warning regarding Black Dog is, as mentioned, they’re tacked onto the winery. The cellar door/barn is simply manned by one of the wine makers and they have a bigger interest in the wine than the beer. While it’s quiet and there is a chance for discussion, unless the brewer happens to be there, don’t expect too much beer discussion.
However, the beer is good and it will be interesting to follow this one!
And other stuff…
Being food and wine country, there was no shortage of decent restaurants.
We managed to hit the Cellar Door Wine Store which, despite the name, had a small but good selection of beers from the likes Mikkeller, Nøgne ø, Yeastie Boys, and of course Bridge Road (since it practically next door). Despite the large selection of wine here, we were more than happy to sit on the beer.
Another shout out goes to Provenance which provided a great fine dining experience, once again with a surprising beer list. As with the Cellar Door, Provenance not only provided some great local beers, but were heavy on beers from Scandinavia. One could possibly put this down to Bridge Road’s influence in the town and their habit for collaborating with breweries in this part of the world.
Finally, the Tanswells Commercial Hotel (AKA “the Commie”) was a convenient place when the brewery was too busy. Located right next to Bridge Road Brewery, it was both surprising and appropriate that they didn’t carry much of their neighbour’s brew. As said, Bridge Road was next door and it would have been redundant to carry their beer at the Commie. However, the Commie had a couple Bridge Road beers, some Thunder Road, and everything else you’d expect from a country pub.
Thanks Beechworth. We can’t wait to return to check out what other great watering holes you have!