As Melburnians get ready to hop on the annual Good Beer Week (12 – 21 May) bandwagon, with hundreds of events around town showcasing local, Australian and international brews, Geelong and surrounds is also primed to welcome beer lovers to a region with a burgeoning craft beer movement. Hosting three events as part of Good Beer Week, the region is also home to a swag of national, boutique and micro breweries and a major drawcard on the event calendar with the Great Australian Beer Festival each February. Festival organisers have also made moves to develop a regional craft beer trail that incorporates the many local breweries.
The beer industry in Geelong rose to prominence in late 2013 with the opening of Little Creatures Brewery. The Fremantle-based brewer extensively renovated an historic woollen mill in South Geelong to add an east coast base, outgrowing its original home in the west. Amongst their stable of beers, Little Creatures developed Geelong’s own Furphy Ale, made from only Victorian ingredients. Several years on, the brewery is going from strength to strength with White Rabbit Brewery moving into the site, having relocated from their home in Healesville.
The thriving local beer scene is home to some impressive local producers, including Odyssey Tavern & Brewery, a craft beer establishment with an adjacent microbrewery at Mount Duneed, Geelong. Odyssey’s brews include the popular Calypso Pale Ale, a beach ale and extra special red ale. Nearby is Mount Duneed Estate, an established winery but also now firmly cemented in the local brewing scene. Their label, Pettavel Road Brewing Co, produces pale ale, amber ale and golden ale in small batches. Alongside beer production is The Barrel Hall, a rustic family-friendly cafe where the range can be sampled on tap.
A man extremely passionate about local brews is Tim Page-Walker from Bellarine Brewing Co, which was established 10 years ago and wholesales from South Geelong. Page-Walker has seen consumers’ sophistication and growing interest in boutique beer fuel demand and seen the rise in production at The Bellarine Brewing Co range. Bellarine Brewing bottles quality lagers, ales, pilsners and the infamous mussel stout, brewed with another regional icon, Portarlington mussels.
In Queenscliff, the town’s historic Esplanade Hotel has been transformed to celebrate locally brewed beer. At the Queenscliff Brewhouse there are 27 beer and ciders being poured from 38 taps, with five dedicated to Geelong beers in the regional tasting room. Their specialty is sister company – Otway Brewing’s delicious range of Prickly Moses brew.
In Geelong, Blackman’s Brewery is another prime example of the brewing industries growth. With a permanent home in Torquay, Blackman’s have recently opened a boutique bar in Little Malop Street. The intimate space, which has an industrial laneway vibe, is perfect for a pre or post dinner drink. Barrabool Hills Brewery, home to Cockies Beer, is a small-scale brewery located in South Geelong and brews Cockies Ocean Road Pale Ale, Cockies India Pale Ale, and Surf Coast Blonde.
Southern Bay Brewing Co. is a stalwart of the Geelong region having been brewing on the outskirts of Geelong for some 20 years. Southern Bay produce a lager, pilsner, IPA and pale ale. You can find Southern Bay Brewing at selected outlets.
Local beers are well represented at select bottle shops and Geelong Cellar Door in Little Malop Street, which offers a one-stop shop for visitors to sample a selection of local craft beers that can be matched with charcuterie platters, enjoyed by an open fire in a relaxed setting in central Geelong.