Now that Winter is here, we are doing whatever we can to keep warm – and that includes sussing out the local alcoholic drinks to wrap your frozen fingers around.
Here’s seven of the best, in our opinion, this region has to offer.
Four Pillars Gin
With winter well and truly here, it’s time to embrace life in the longer, cooler evenings with cosy conversations, multiple layers and indulging in a good shot or two of gin… yes gin. While the icy breeze makes many turns to cosy options like red wine and whisky, gin lovers can now have the best of both worlds thanks to Yarra Valley-based distillery Four Pillars and their life-changing Bloody Shiraz Gin.
This winter-style gin is the delicious result of mixing Four Pillars Rare Dry Gin with Yarra Valley Shiraz grapes. Each year, Four Pillars take this local Shiraz fruit, and then steep the whole berries in high-proof gin for eight weeks before pressing. The colour remains a deep, rich, reddish purple, while aromatically it shows wintery flavours like fresh pine needles, citrus and spice, and distinct peppery, dense raspberry notes.
In terms of pairing, they gin masterminds at Four Pillars recommend trying their ‘Bloody & Lemon’ cocktail. Guaranteed to warm your soul, just add 100ml of Bitter Lemon Tonic to 45ml of Bloody Shiraz Gin and garnish with a ruby grapefruit. The Bitter Lemon tonic pairs perfect as the acidity cuts through the sugar and spice and creates an almost Sangria-like cocktail, only a million times better.
With their reputation, you know it’s going to be good too. Just last year, Four Pillars was named International Gin Producer of the Year at the International Wine & Spirits Competition in London, the ‘Oscars’ of the drinks industry because they make the best and most delicious gins in the world.
The 2020 vintage promises to be their best yet, and drops on July 4, just in time for Christmas in July! Jump onto www.fourpillarsgin.com and sign up to their email database so you can be one of the first to grab a bottle. Alternatively hit your local bottle shop and you might be lucky enough to find a last remaining bottle of their exceptional 2019 release.
Don’t just take our word for it, give your taste buds a sophisticated toast as it warms your flesh this winter!
Valhalla Brewing and Taproom
Dark beers are serious business: they are dark – sometimes almost black – and feature a heavily roasted flavour profile, pretty much making it the perfect brew in the smack dab of winter. Malty, musty, rich or creamy, stouts and porters fill the void caused by winter’s chills and our favourite little taproom has once again opened their doors, giving us the chance to enjoy these dark beers straight from the tap.
Valhalla Brewing and Taproom – a carefully crafted space to showcase seriously delicious and addictive range of beers – have added to of their own delicious dark beers to the taps for winter.
The first is Valhalla’s Obsidan Black IPA. This is their flagship beer and a favourite among regular customers. Jet black in colour, this is a silky smooth, 6.8% dark beer with coffee and chocolate notes plus citrus undertones that balance out the roasted flavours, and resulting in an easy-to-drink dark beer.
The second is the Gallowtree Oatmeal Stout. This popular winter seasonal stout has big roasted coffee notes upfront with layers of chocolate, aniseed and licorice. Oatmeal is used in the beer to provide a balancing sweetness, making this the perfect winter warming beer. Sounds absolutely delicious if you ask us!
In addition to their own dark beers on the taps (and of course other craft varieties), Valhalla also stock a range of delicious dark beers from Independent Australian breweries. You’ll find everything from a sweet chocolatey vanilla porter to a decadent chocolate hazelnut praline beer, to big rich stouts agent in whiskey and rum barrels.
Alongside the dark beers, they’ve also installed a pizza oven to provide customers with the perfect food pairing to local craft beers. You’ll find seven delicious pizza varieties, including a gourmet vegan option on the menu.
Valhalla is located at 12-14 Union St, Geelong. Please note, the Taproom’s opening hours have been reduced from 7 days a week to 4 and will be closing earlier than usual.
Flowstate Brewers and Distillers
Winter is fully embraced by many on the coast, including the team at Flowstate Brewers and Distillers. For them, winter means big waves and empty beaches; beautiful walks, hikes, and runs through some of Victoria’s most amazing cold climate forests; drinking the darkest thickest beers that can be found; and of course, coming back after a freezing cold surf knowing that you have yourself a bottle of lovingly crafted local gin, bunch of mates and a warm camp fire cranking to warm you up for the night ahead.
Embrace the chill with the wooliest jumper you can find… and a bottle of gin, courtesy of Flowstate Brewers and Distillers.
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.
With more products coming soon, currently they offer their unique Craft Gin which boasts earthy, fruity and floral aromas, combined with spicy, warm notes and a touch of citrus to soften a complex yet delicate finish. Pair this with a local premium dry tonic; or use it in a classic Martini, and prepare to be warmed from the inside out.
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.
It’s all about drinking local and independent this season. Local legends and creators of good beer for everyone, Blackman’s Brewery, should be top of everyone’s list when it comes to making winter that little bit warmer – especially having a core range as diverse as their, made up of beers that cover a variety of flavours and styles.
A current Australian Champion Brewery, we love everything they’re about and now with the easing of restrictions, brewery sessions are back in both Torquay and Ocean Grove, meaning we can get back to drinking these brews direct from the source under their massive heaters – the best way to enjoy a Blackman’s brew this winter. They’ll be open from Thursday – Sunday for a number of different sessions, however bookings are essential. You can book your session here.
If you’re not ready to venture into the unknown just yet, they’re also still running their new and absolutely brilliant delivery service, spawned from the interest of keeping the beer brewing and their awesome team working during the recent lockdown. Keen beer drinkers in Geelong, Torquay and Ocean Grove can take advantage of same day beer delivery – straight to your door – seven days a week. No need to rug up and leave the house thanks to these guys! You can order either a four pack, a six pack, a 16 can case or a 24 can case, pending on the beer you choose! Our favourites are the Juicy Banger, the Blackman’s Lager, and the Winnie Cider. Simply place your beer order online here and let them handle the rest!
Alternatively, you can also stock up on Blackman’s beer for the winter month from your favourite local bottle-O.
Chas Cole Cellars
As assuredly as a Laissez-faire adherent wanting a tax cut, beer, wine and spirit lovers want choice. Chas Cole Cellars has got things covered with almost 40 bays of wine, 30 fridge doors, four bays of spirits, one of the better craft beer ranges in G-Town, and a choice Fine Wine Room if you’re looking to treat someone (plus a charcuterie deli and artisan chocolate section to treat yourself!).
We’re firm believers that there is nothing better on a cold day than a tasty bottle of red wine, and Chas Cole have you sorted no matter what your taste. Shiraz and Pinot Noir take the spot as the top choice, with Cabernet Blends, Sangiovese, Nero d’Avola and Nebbiolo also being favourites to warm your soul this season. If you prefer white wine, the team at Chas Cole believe heavily-oaked Chardonnay is making a wonderful comeback; an expression of warmth imparted from the toasted oak barrel… and something you can really stick your knife in and spread on your toast!
Their bulk Fortified Wines are not only a stupendous visual but an unrivalled option for the cooler season. It’s an homage to liquor service at the turn of the twentieth century when fortifieds were du jour. Indulge in a fresh, vibrant Ruby port to a selection of Tawny’s to really brandied, fruited Muscats and Topaques (formerly known as Tokay).
While Chas Cole have always provided a quality selection of booze and damn fine service, they have also jumped on the delivery train. Running from Monday to Saturday, you simply need to call the team on (03)52233322 to place your order and pay over the phone. If your order is placed prior to 4pm, they’ll even get it to you that same day! And it’s completely contactless. Yes, yes and yes. Minimum order is $50 and delivery must be within a 25km radius of the store.
And the best part, they actually stock the above locals (Valhalla, Flowstate, Blackmans, Four Pillars Gin), making it easy to both support local and get your boozy fix.
You’ll find them at 395 Moorabool St, South Geelong. Open Mon-Sat 9am-9pm, and Sun 10am-9pm.
Daylesford Cider Company
Well the gates may have been closed for a while but the team at Daylesford Cider have been hard at work behind the scenes, completing one of their best vintages yet and giving the cellar-door a make-over just in time for winter.
Finally reopening this June and welcoming back guests into their cosy English Tavern-style space, Daylesford Cider have a new range to warm your soul this season. We all know that Craft cider is what they do best, and you’ll find a number of small experimental batches, single varietal ciders, ciders aged in oak barrel, varieties that are tannin driven and almost bone-dry cider through to fuller fruited, bold styles.
Their ‘Cider Tasting Paddle’, featuring seven different ciders for $15, is the go to for new and regular customers who want to get involved with their core range. As current government regulations require customers to have a main meal to accompany any drinks including the tasting paddle, Daylesford Cider have three different reservation times available every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Due to capacity limits, bookings must be made well in advance by emailing through each guest’s full name and contact number in order to get the ball rolling.
For those wanting to purchase cider to take home, the cellar door will also be open for sales. Daylesford Cider initially will be open 10am to 5pm Friday to Sunday with the intention of quickly returning to normal operating hours as restrictions ease.
Daylesford Cider is located at 155 Dairyflat Road, Musk. Visit the website for all further details.
The Hop Inn
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 reopened their doors, making it the perfect place to escape that winter chill.
With 10 taps in the bar, warm your insides with a selection of craft beer, with golden nectar from the likes of Bells Beach Brewing, Deeds Brewing, Gage Roads and of course Blackman’s Brewery; non-craft beers (including Melbourne straight from the tap), and a fine selection of Victorian and South Australian warming drops like Shiraz, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Alongside their brews, it’s their meal deals that will really warm you up, especially their weekly buffalo wings. On Wednesdays, you can get one kilogram of hot, crispy wings slathered in your choice of Buffalo, Highway to HELL or Teriyaki sauce for only $16. You’ll have to get your hands dirty too — all wings come with ranch or blue cheese dipping sauce, as well as celery sticks to balance it all out.
They’re also doing parmi Tuesdays, offering six different types of parmis for $19.50, and $23 ribs on Thursdays, where you’ll be treated to a delicious serve of smoked beef short ribs or pork spare ribs with pickle, coleslaw, a side of hot chips, and of course a drink!
The Hop Inn will be open Tuesday – Thursday for dine in from 5:30-7pm, and 7:30-9pm; Friday 5:30-7:30pm and 8-10pm; Saturday from 12-1:30pm, 2-4pm, 5:30-7:30pm and 8-10pm; and Sundays 12-1:30pm, 2-4pm and 5:30-7:30pm.
Reserve your table by emailing [email protected]. If you’re not ready to brave the cold, you can still indulge from the comfort of your own home with their takeaway and delivery services. You can order online via the website. The Hop Inn is located at 611-621 Surf Coast Hwy, Mount Duneed.