A new brewery in the Nagambie Lakes region of central Victoria, 90 minutes from Melbourne, is targeting beer lovers as well as foodies.
Built on the grounds of the region’s old police camp, Nagambie Brewery and Distillery is the brainchild of businessman and regional supporter Gerry Ryan, who brings a significant investment to the area. Ryan already has his roots firmly in the region running the local caravan park as well as several other rural businesses.
Designed by Melbourne architecture firm Six Degrees, the new production facility and hospitality space celebrates the region’s leading attraction, Lake Nagambie.
A concrete, steel and brass bar and floor-to-ceiling windows frame panoramic water views of the lake. Inside, the space is flanked by two closed combustion fireplaces. Steel and glass panelled doors open onto a deck.
Nagambie’s beers and spirits will be brewed and distilled on site by hospitality veteran Jamie Chesher, who describes his new facility as Willy Wonka’s little factory.
Chesher said that will be “pretty conservative” to begin with in keeping with the local tastes.
“I can’t go too quirky out here,” Chesher told Brews News.
“Being in the country, although people are showing a willingness to drink some pretty cool craft beer that we have on tap, the bulk of the consumers out here will stray a little bit from that super intense craft stuff.
“So, for the remainder of this year, we’re aiming for three staples, which will be along the lines of a pale ale, a pilsner or a lager and an amber brown-based ale.”
Nagambie’s brewery equipment comes from FB*Propak. Chesher said his “intimate” 500-litre brewhouse is big enough for him to do what wants to do. His failsafe is that if a batch goes awry, he can turn it into neutral-grain spirit and it doesn’t go to waste.
On the spirit side, Chesher will begin by making a more traditional style of gin that isn’t overly ‘Australiana’ in botanicals, remaining versatile. Chesher will start to play around with a whisky base towards the end of the year but for now, the beers are his priority.
“At this point, the main focus is to have our own produce in our own venue,” he said.
In the meantime, a carefully curated list of beers, spirits and wines has been contrived for guests to enjoy.
New Zealand-born Executive Chef Dan Hawkins is heading up the kitchen side of things at the brewery and distillery. Hawkins has created a menu that is geared towards “an avid beer drinker’s palate” – expect charred, smokey, sweet and salty sauces.
Located next door and currently under construction is the accompanying Ma Forbes Kitchen. Named after local icon Amelia Forbes, the cafe-cum-bakery will serve sandwiches, salads and baked goods and is expected to open next month.
Chesher’s first brews should hit the taps over the Easter weekend.
Nagambie Brewery and Distillery is located at 295-299 High Street, Nagambie, VIC 3608.
Brewery openings are presented by Spark Breweries and Distilleries.
Read more: How to start a brewing company: Part One.