Four glorious regional breweries and distilleries to hit up when you need a cold one

Four glorious regional breweries and distilleries to hit up when you need a cold one

Holgate Brewhouse, David Hyde Photography 2020

Consider your weekend stock sorted.

It’s no secret that we love a good drink here at Forte (some might say myself especially), and we’re always on the hunt for new tipples with which to freshen our glasses.

While Melbourne is the stomping ground for coffee culture, regional Victoria is most definitely the mecca for breweries, wineries, and distilleries. Yep, there’s no doubt this gorgeous region is basically just one massive barrel of booze fun for anyone who loves a cheeky tipple or a cold one… so we’ve picked four glorious (and seriously underrated) local businesses who can sort you out.

Flowstate Brewers and Distillers, Torquay

If you’re looking for something to fill you with pure bliss, there’s not much that can beat reclining back after a hard day’s work on a sunny lounger with an overflowing G&T or tasty cocktail, especially for the gin-lovers out there.

If this kind of pure bliss is what you have eagerly been waiting for these last few months, and you’re ready to say goodbye to the cold whiskey winter, then the team at Flowstate Brewers and Distillers have you sorted.

Based in Torquay, Flowstate is founded by two brothers with a passion for travel, outdoors, environment and a love of crafting. With their eclectic backgrounds in the building, brewing and horticulture industries, they’ve successfully brought together a practical creativity and a botanical sensibility to their production processes and drink styles.

While their unique Craft Gin has been their flagship product since launching late last year (and for good reason, it’s delicious), it’s their newest release which has us preppin’ our glasses.

The first of many seasonal/limited releases, Flowstate have created a wonderful Pinot Gin, combining Torquay’s craft gin with pinot noir from Austins Wines of the Moorabool Valley. Both local trailblazers, it’s a match made in heaven.

The result is a smooth gin with gentle round edges; slight sweetness balanced with mild tannic, pops of lingering cherry and charred flavours with a spicy edge of cinnamon. On the nose, it’s a fragrant, pure-fruited scent of sweet red berries with a hint of earthy cinnamon and oak-derived spice notes, ideal for swirling, sniffing and sipping gently on the rocks.

If on the rocks isn’t your style, it’s just as good mixed with 1 part soda or light dry tonic. If you’re more of a cocktail drinker, Flowstate recommend having it as a ‘supercharged Negroni’ to experience the full potential of this tipple.

Best of all, you can drink this gin knowing you’re helping the bigger issues facing our natural world, with Flowstate committing 1% of all sales to the global movement “1% for the Planet”, a network together protecting the future of our planet.

Browse their selection of local stockists online, or you can simply purchase the gin direct from the website.


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Prickly Moses Brewery, Otways

Located in the pristine natural environment of the Otway, one of the world’s only coast temperate rainforests, Prickly Moses Brewery is an absolute Forte favourite.

Brewing since 2007, Prickly Moses produces more than 20 beer styles over the course of each year, from their ever-popular Otway Light, Summer Ale, Otway Pale Ale and Otway Stout, to their more innovative brews such as the Chardonnay IPA, Blueberry Hefeweizen and Black Panther Black IBA, to the Smokie Dawson endorsed cleansing Australian Ale, ChainSAW and bold Black Knight Imperial Stout.

Always striving to handcraft the best beer possible, the team at Prickly Moses create these beers to match an appearance, aroma and flavour profile – not a budget – by using only the highest quality ingredients, with no preservatives or artificial colouring. Made by real, hands-on brewers, they make the most of their location by collecting as much water as possible so that they can brew all of their beers using local rain water from their rainforest. And we know you need good water to make good beer, and there’s really nothing better than water from the lush forests of the Otways.

What makes us love these guys even more is their commitment to preserving our stunning region. Inspired by their beautiful surrounding in the lush, Prickly Moses are a brewery with a passion for producing beer in an environmentally responsible way, implementing a number of green initiatives to lessen their footprint. This includes harvesting rainwater for use at the brewery and producing solar electricity to supplement the use of grid electricity, as well as donating their spent grain to local farmers who use it as animal fodder.

In 2013, Otway Brewing became Partners of the Conservation Ecology Centre and launched their ‘Spotted Ale’ from which 100% of profits to wildlife conservation. Through the creation of this premium boutique beer, ‘Spotted Ale’, Prickly Moses continue to make meaningful contribution to keeping Tiger Quolls safe in the Otways and beyond – and what’s not to love about that?

If you’re in the Otways, perhaps after adventuring through the Redwoods, their tasting bar at Otway Estate Bar and Café has 10 different taps offering a range of different styles to sample, including their forbidden fruit cider range and local wines. They also offer a cafe menu and mouth-watering Woodfire Pizzas which can be enjoyed out on the decking area overlooking the dam, an ideal location this summer.

If you’re not in the Otways and want to indulge in some of their lovingly handcrafted brews, all hope is not lost. You can also visit the Great Ocean Road Brewhouse in Apollo Bay or the Queenscliff Brewhouse in Queenscliff to taste the full range of Prickly Moses handcrafted beers and Forbidden Fruit Ciders.

You can find Prickly Moses Brewery at 10 Hoveys Rd, Barongarook or visit the website to purchase online.

Holgate Brewhouse, Woodend

Independent and family owned, Holgate Brewhouse is a humble craft-brewing company, cranking out classic beer styles in their brewery in Woodend, at the foot of Mt Macedon and a stone’s throw away from Hanging Rock.

Since Natasha and Paul Holgate launched the business in 1999, Holgate Brewhouse has been at the forefront of Australia’s craft brewing movement, slowly going from a small project in the back shed to an award-winning, nationally recognised beer brand available around Australia – and even in some international markets.

Maintaining a team passionate about hand-crafting fresh, full flavoured beers, Holgate produce a range of styles to suit every palate, some of the most popular being their Mt Macedon Pale Ale, Alpha Crucis XPA, Road Trip IPA and Temptress Choc Porter. They also release special limited cans throughout the year, including their famous Millennium Falcon Emperial IPA, Empress Mocha Porter and Hopinator IPA (truly delicious and available now). These beers are all traditionally brewed, with no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives.

While you can purchase all their products online, a visit to Holgate Brewhouse is the best way to get intimate with the core range and special limited release beers you can’t try anywhere else. Housed in a grand Victorian building that was first built in the late 1800s, the brew-pub has many of the original features like wood panelling, leadlight windows and a grand central staircase. Inside this space there’s a pub, restaurant and function room, the original brewhouse where Holgate have been brewing beer for two decades, along with ten boutique rooms upstairs, perfect for those regional weekends away.

To the rear of the hotel there is also a newly opened Taproom & Visitor Centre, located inside their brand new, state-of-the-art brewhouse, where visitors can learn all about brewing, try their limited and special release beers, and shop for Holgate beer, local wine, cider and gin to takeaway.

The perfect stop on the way to Daylesford and Spa Country, or destination for a day trip from Melbourne, Geelong, Bendigo or Ballarat, this underrated brewhouse is a must for any regional beer aficionado.

Find Holgate Brewhouse at 79 High Street, Woodend or check out their products online via their website.

The Hop Inn, Mount Duneed

While not exactly a brewery per se, The Hop Inn has been one of the go-to places for a knock-off drink for those out Mount Duneed/Armstrong Creek way for a while now, and now this local business has brewed their own beer, making them a worthy inclusion.

Named ‘The Hop XPA’, it’s no surprise this beer is a hoppy one. Levelling up a pale ale, this XPA delivers a light malt backbone and a smooth mouthfeel sure to make any fan come back for more! It’s sessionable and crisp, drumming up a citrus, mandarin and pine punch, and rocks as hard as The Hop does every weekend with an encore requested every time. The beer was brewed in Torquay thanks to the awesome team at Bells Beach Brewing, and the very sexy label was designed by the talented Ben from Davis Design.

If you’re not sold on the XPA, this loved watering-hole has a tonne of other brews to choose from thanks to 10 taps in the bar and a slew of local craft beers in the fridge. You’ll find golden nectar from the likes of Bells Beach Brewing, Deeds Brewing, Gage Roads and of course Blackman’s Brewery, as well as some non-craft beers (including Melbourne straight from the tap). They also stock a fine selection of Victorian and South Australian warming drops like Shiraz, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon, and they’ve just released a brand new cocktail menu.

If you’re a fan of live music, The Hop Inn are the perfect place to kick back with a cold one and some tunes. As long-time supporters of the local live music scene, the crew are back to hosting local and acoustic performances in their new marquee four times a week, with live music scheduled across Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Making this place a triple threat, they’ve also got a killer food menu and a tonne of meal deals on offer. Our favourite is their Wednesday buffalo wing deal, where you can get one kilogram of hot, crispy wings slathered in your choice of Buffalo, Highway to HELL or Teriyaki sauce for only $16. They also do a ripper Parmi Tuesday and $23 Ribs on Thursdays, while their regular menu boasts delicious snacks, burgers, pizzas, and mains to fill up on.

Beers, music and sweet meal deals… yeah, you’re not going to want to miss a slice of that action.

The Hop Inn located at 611-621 Surf Coast Hwy, Mount Duneed and is open Tuesday to Sunday. Bookings are essential and can be made online for dine-in while takeaway and delivery options are available too.


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