There’s a veritable avalanche of new breweries opening in Victoria’s High Country region, an area of some expanse that is bordered by the Murray River, the Victorian Alps and river valleys to the south.
The jury’s out on whether the newcomers will become part of the High Country Brewery Trail, whose member breweries believe in the merit of a leaner format that may be completed in the course of a weekend.
On my recent High Country tour, I went off-piste to visit Rutherglen Brewery, which was established by Fiona Myers and Gavin Swalwell at their Taste at Rutherglen restaurant last year.
The food was fantastic and their first beers on the market, a Pilsner and English-style Pale Ale, were fine examples of their styles. The range has since been extended and the beers distributed to Beer DeLuxe venues in Melbourne and Albury.
Meanwhile, Jeff Whyte in October 2015 opened the doors of his Mansfield venture, Social Bandit Brewing Company, foreshadowed last May.
Whyte was the founder of nearby Jamieson Brewery, which was part of the original High Country Brewery Trail. Jamieson’s current owner Terri Marsden reports that she is currently considering selling the brewery.
Whyte’s Social Bandit launched with an initial range that includes an American Amber Ale, a Pale Ale, a Brown Ale and a Summer Session Ale. The brewer has since set about filling up the remainder of his 12 taps.
“We aren’t packaging as yet but hope to have our little bottle machine up and going soon,” he told Australian Brews News.
Blizzard Brewing Company hopes to open its doors in March 2016, after its impending opening in Dinner Plain was revealed by Australian Brews News last year.
Tim Cabelka, who previously worked at Red Hill Brewery in Mornington Peninsula, is in the midst of establishing a hop field and brewery in the Mitta Mitta Valley, a few minutes down the road from Sweetwater Brewing Company in Mount Beauty.
Mitta Mitta Brewing Company should hopefully be brewing by the end of summer, Cabelka told Australian Brews News.
“We are planning on getting the restaurant side of the project built during the winter, ready for the following summer,” he said.
“As it is mainly Alec (my business partner) and I doing all aspects of the project, things take time. But it is a long term vision that we have.”
Cable said his hop bines are in their third and fourth years of growth and improving each year.
Whenever we next tour the High Country Brewery Trail, it seems we will have plenty of other breweries to visit along the way.
High Country breweries on a winner