It is the last day on our food and wine tour of the Albury, Beechworth, Rutherglen area. I had nothing in particular planned for the day so asked the husband what he would like to do on this fine Sunday. Without missing a beat he reminded how much he enjoyed the Bridge Street Brewery in Beechworth. He picked up a brochure which had a list of boutique brewery, a map of the area, and a suggested itinerary. I was surprised at how many microbreweries were listed. Mr GG continued to say that we would probably only make it to four or five breweries before the 4.00pm NRL kick off. He was reminding me that we had arranged to watch the Manly v Parramatta game with friends at the Soden Hotel in Albury.
With the day organise I told Mr GG that I would volunteer to be the designated driver so that he and husband No2 could have a day on the booze. I figured the two guys would be able to give a better description on a wider variety of beer than I would.
I don’t know whether husband No 2 doesn’t trust my driving, or perhaps it is just that he knows I am a lush, either way he decided he would remain the designated driver for the day.
After a bit of research using the Beer Lovers Guide to Victorian Micro breweries and brochures we had picked up in our travels we set off toward Beechworth for our tasting. The brochure suggested our first stop should be at the Murray Brewery, a historic brewery built in 1865 while Beechworth was at the height of the Gold Rush. The original owner of the brewery was George Billson, and the building still bears the name “Billson’s Brewery.” The name change to Murray Brewery occurred in 1916 after a series of ownership changes.
The site was chosen to utilise a natural spring located on the property. The pure spring water has been used in all of the beverages to this day.
During the 1920’s, due to the alcohol restrictions prevailing at the time, the production of beer ceased. The brewery continued to produce Stout for another 30 years, but commenced production as a soft drink and cordial factory.
We arrive at the historic site ready to try our first ale of the day. As we walk around the building we get the feeling that we may be encountering our first problem with the itinerary. The factory and shop are deserted. I take a few photos and notice a sign which states that the brewery is closed on weekends.
It is a little disappointing but as I read on I find that the brewery no longer produces beer of any sort and now specialises in turn of the century gourmet cordial mixers. Although this would have been nice to experience it is a little unexpected.
We return to our brewery tour brochure and find that the Bridge Road Brewers in Beechworth is next on our list. Mr GG and I loved this brewery when we visited a few days ago. We are both happy to resume our seat in front of the fireplace, order our favourite beer and sample a few more of the pizza’s from the menu.
We take a seat at Bridge Road and we are parched. Mr GG orders me a Pale Ale and he has the same. The pale ale has a light floral flavour derived from aromatic hops. Miss Rachy has the Australian Ale which I find quite yeasty but still a nice drop. Husband No2 is with us enjoying the brewery’s Pale Ale.
It is so cosy we could easily settle in for the day but we are on a mission. Pretzels are the perfect accompaniment to beer, and hubby orders pretzel from the bar while we decided on our pizza options.
When the pretzel arrives it is deliciously warm and salty, crisp on the outside and soft and doughy on the inside. The pretzels are served with a creamy Bavarian dip which is then topped with smokey paprika. It would be very easy to continue munching on these and enjoying a few more beers but I know how good the pizza’s are and I don’t want to fill up.
We order two pizza’s, the first is a Sweet Potato and Gorgonzola Pizza which is then topped with Honeyed Almonds and rocket. I am in love from the first bite., it is so flavour filled. I would love to make this pizza at home but I doubt I could replicate the unique crispy base. I note that the dough is made using their own Bavarian Wheat Ale.
The second pizza is called the Morrison Street Butchers Pizza. It consists of boccocini, caramelised onion, and pieces of sausage from the local butcher. The pizza is finished with a generous swirl of mustard sauce. It is effectively a German tasting sausage, onion and mustard pizza and it was amazing.
Reluctantly we leave the Bridge Brewery. I have to make a quick stop at The Larder Fromagerie to purchase an additional jar of Spiced Pear & Apple Chutney. I can’t bear the thought of running out so I am stocking up before we leave the area.
We also make a quick stop at the lolly shop for Little Miss A. She has been very patient so we reward her by allowing her to choose something from this child wonderland. The shop is not quite so adult friendly, there is no photography allowed in the store, a designated entrance and a designated exit at opposite ends of the store and no eftpos under $20 is permitted. So once you have all the rules straight customers are allowed to peruse the selection of sweets watched by the ever present “Lolly Nazi.”
So on to our next brewery and we are driving to Boorhaman in search of Buffalo Brewery. After our poor strike rate Mr GG decides to phone ahead to ensure that the brewery is open. It looks like we have successfully found another brewery!
When we arrive at Buffalo Brewery we find that we are in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere out the front of a not particularly inspiring pub. The pub does brew five different varieties of beer, four of which are currently available on tap. We order a pot of each (a pot is Victorian speak for a Middy).
After we had each sampled all the varieties above we picked our favourites. I really enjoyed the wheat beer so I commandeered that pot. Rachy liked the Lager best so she pounced on that one, Mr GG is a dark ale man so the remainder of that pot was his, and husband No2 thought the ginger beer was pretty special and was happy to down the rest of it. Overall we all enjoyed the flavour of the Buffalo Beer but I wouldn’t send anyone on a Gourmet Boutique Beer Tour to the pub.
As we are piling in the car ready to go to the final brewery the thought that I “can’t seem to organise a piss up in a brewery” keeps popping into my mind. I would have a giggle but we have driven nearly 200kms and have only managed to score two beers each for our efforts.
Bintara Brewery in Rutherglen is the final stop on this dry pub crawl!
When we arrived in Rutherglen the brewery appeared to have morphed into a restaurant and was closed. We shared a collective sigh, and then set off toward home. Each of us are of the opinion that we probably should have just settled in for the afternoon at the Bridge Road Brewery, but we got out and saw the countryside and now it was time to head to the Soden Pub for a beer and a bite to eat.
In total we’ve completed a total of 210km in the last 5 hours, we have visited five advertised micro breweries and managed to get a beer at 2. Not such a successful beer tour but fun none the less.