Driving through the tall trees of Forrest, Victoria, we come to a sunlit clearing. The sun is gleaming off a restored old blue building that has the words Brewery painted onto the white tin roof. This is the Forrest brewery, owned and run by brother and sister team Matt and Sharon Bradshaw.
Matt was a chef who wanted a lifestyle change. The lure of country life and the local bike trails encouraged him move to Forrest about ten years ago. A homebrewer for about 20 years, Matt developed a plan for his own brewery. He first completed a brewing course at Ballarat University in 2006, then talked his sister into taking over the derelict General Store with him with great plans for a brewing future. It took a lot of time, money, and some compromises to their original plans before they got all of the approvals necessary.
However, the end result is one that they can be proud of. The café takes up most of the site. It has a rustic relaxed look to it. A window at the back of the café looks over the brewery, giving customers a bird’s eye view of Matt brewing.
Matt bought the brewery equipment from the Three Degrees Bar in Melbourne after they stopped brewing there. The mash tun, kettle, and whirlpool have a capacity of 600L. There are four 1800L fermenters. Together they enable Matt to make three brews, on successive days, for each fermenter. Heat exchangers are set up so that when cooling and transferring wort into the fermenters, water is heated for cleaning the brewery.
After renovating the building and installing the brewery, it still took a few months of testing and tweaking before they were able to make their first commercial brew. There are now four regular beers that are available on tap or in bottles at the bar; a Kölsch, pale ale, red ale, and stout. The beer is stored in a temperature-controlled storeroom until ready for sale.
Silvertop is a lightly hopped 4.1% Kölsch containing four different malts, including wheat, and is lightly hopped. It pours a light golden colour and is slightly sweet on the palate.
The Pale Ale is 4.8% American style that uses Cascade hops and Caramalt. Most of the hops go into the brew just before the end of the boil to ensure it has a fresh hoppy aroma. It has a refreshing dry bitter finish.
The Irish Red is pale with only a hint of red. It uses four malts including Melanoidin and Victory to get this flavoursome 3.6% ale. It has roasted and nutty flavours that make it very popular.
The Stout is a 4.5% oatmeal stout that is dark with light roasted flavours. It is smooth and easy to drink.
Matt recently made a couple of specialty brews, Untamed Turkey – a double IPA, and Block Splitter – an imperial stout. He is planning a saison using local strawberry clover honey and has ideas for more beers that he would like to try.
Forrest brewery is more than just a brewery. It is also a café where truck drivers, cyclists, schoolgirls, and tradies come for a bite and something to drink. Sharon says that the café is busy every time that they are open and they are about the try opening on Mondays as well.
Forrest Brewing Company is located at 26 Grant Street, Forrest, VIC, 3236. It is currently open Thursday 10 to 5, Friday 9 till late, Saturday 9 till late, and Sunday 9 to 5.
For more information: www.forrestbrewing.com.au or call 03 5236 6170.