In the centre of Beechworth sits the impressive old Tanswell’s Commercial Hotel. The brick building was built in the heady days of Victoria’s gold rush to replace the earlier wooden building. A brick coach house and stable built in 1859 to service the original building still stands at the rear.
Walking down a covered laneway to the old coach house, the glorious smell of fresh wort fills the air and makes us appreciate that the building is now serving a purpose much grander than was conceived by its original builders. The smell comes from Bridge Road Brewers’ new beer boiling away in the brew kettle of the historic building.
Bridge Road Brewers is the creation of Ben Kraus, a young man in his early 30s. Ben seems to have an excess of energy that comes from his passion for brewing and a need to have things done properly. These attributes have helped Ben to build a reputation for making outstanding beers.
Ben initially studied winemaking. However, he turned his hand to brewing, and was able to get some hands on experience at a small brewery in Austria. Moving back to Beechworth, he bought some second hand brewing equipment and established the Bridge Road Brewery in his father’s shed. It wasn’t long before he moved into the present Ford Street address.
As you come through the beer garden and enter the brewery you will see the mash tun, brew kettle, and a couple of fermenters are on a raised level in the far right corner. The bar, kitchen, and office are on the other side of the central seating area. The rest of the fermenters and brewery equipment are in what must have been the old coach house part of the building.
Bridge Road Brewers also have a reputation for the food that they have on offer.
Ben’s partner, Maria has made a name for herself because of some of the fine recipes she has made available on the restaurant menu. Her famous pretzels are made fresh every day. The ploughman’s platter is lovely for lunch, but the other dishes on the menu, such as the Saison poached mussels, look just as inviting. There are 12 gourmet pizzas on the standard menu, with a couple of others on the specials board.
There are ten beer taps to choose from, and tasting paddle samples are available from a single up to all ten. It is important for craft beers to be served by people who have good product knowledge, so it was good to be served by well-informed Martina on the day we visited. The follow is a brief review of the beers she served us.
Hans Klopek’s Hefe Weizen is a light easy to drink hefeweizen with a good dose of banana aroma. Australian Ale is a light and slightly sweet Australian pale ale. Beechworth Pale is more flavoursome pale ale. Posse Summer Ale is a pale Belgian-style wheat beer. The cider in the beer mix is quite sweet, but has enough sourness to still be refreshing. Celtic Red is a malty and hoppy Irish red ale. Robust Porter is a delightful warm, roasty, malty porter with hints of coffee and chocolate. Bling IPA has a solid bitterness with a good balance of residual sweetness. Stella is a single hop IPA that uses generous lashings of Stella hops. It is lighter bodied but highly hopped, letting the alpha acids tussle for control of your tastebuds. The Chevalier Saison is a full-bodied Belgian-style with a lovely aroma and a dry finish.
Bridge Road Brewers sets a high standard in brewing fine beers and is well worth a visit as part of a Victorian High Country beer trail.
Bridge Road Brewers main entrance is through Brewers Lane close to 44 Ford Street Beechworth. There is two hour parking out the front, so it may be better to park at the rear. Just look for the big Bridge Road sign, on the other side of the block, in High Street. Sign up as a Bridge Road Posse member when you get there and you will get a slab of Bridge Road beer every three months, receive a 10% discount on any beer bought, and the $15 tasting paddle is free. They are open every day from 11am; lunch is available from Wednesday to Sunday, while dinner is only available on Sunday.
For more information call 03 5728 2703.