We are talking to Sweetwater Brewing’s Peter Hull, sitting at the back of a winery in Tawonga South in the Victorian High Country. There are crimson rosellas flying over the luscious green vines, as the wagtails flit around on the ground. Looking out past the trees, we see the imposing peak of Victoria’s highest mountain, Mt Bogong.
Peter left his job in Melbourne and moved up to Mt Beauty about five years ago for a change of lifestyle and because he loved the winter snow fields. It was here that he started his own business, Sweetwater Brewing. The nearby Kiewa River gave the brewery its name, as Kiewa is the indigenous word for ‘Sweetwater’.
To get started, Peter leased some space from Ezio Minutello’s Annapurna Estate winery. The beer is brewed in the winery shed using a 250L system, which Peter built with the help of his electrician brother Wayne. The tasting and direct sales are from a small bar built onto the winery tasting room.
However, all of this is about to change, as Peter excitedly tells us. Sweetwater Brewing is moving to its own premises. He has taken over a former pizzeria on the main highway through Tawonga South. The move will mean that he will have a greatly expanded presence in the town and will be able to take advantage of passing traffic, including some of the many cyclists that frequent the area.
Once the move is completed, he will have seating for about 60, and there will be room out the back for his brewery equipment. Peter is closing the old brewery and plans to have the new premises open in the first week of January, although it will likely be some time before it is set up properly. Three 600-litre fermenters have been built and are on the way. They should be delivered and installed early next year.
With plenty of room in the new eatery, another challenge is finding good food that will work well with the beers. So Peter has collaborated with the next-door butcher and developed a tasty bratwurst. The Brewery Brats will be exclusively sold at the brewery along with a range of matching condiments.
Sweetwater have a range of six ales ranging from light pales to a porter. Summer is a light-flavoured, medium-bodied spicy pale ale with a fruity hop aroma. Weissbier is a yeasty banana and clove Hefeweizen-style ale. Pale is a fruity American-style pale ale with some caramel notes. Golden Bitter is a malty English extra bitter-style ale, which goes down very easily. The IPA is not as bitter as most of this style and has caramel notes. The porter is a light bodied porter with hints of roasted chocolate.
Mt Beauty is well worth the visit for the views, but now also for the great Sweetwater Brewing beer. Check out the new Sweetwater brewery and enjoy a bratwurst or two.
Sweetwater’s new address will be 211 Kiewa Valley Highway, Tawonga South, VIC, 3699. Planned opening hours are 1pm to 6 pm, Friday to Sunday. If planning your visit in early January it would be best to check their website for the latest information before driving there. For more information see the website or follow Peter on Twitter.