Four best brewery daytrips from Melbourne

The perfect city escape involves good food and great beer in a beautiful seting. Here are four breweries that don’t disappoint on all three scores, and are well worth venturing out to.

  1. Holgate Brewhouse

One of the elder statesmen of the craft beer scene, Holgate has one of the finest core beer ranges as well as regular interesting one-offs. At their bar and restaurant located only an hour from the city in Woodend, you can taste the range with 6 taps, 2 handpumps. They offer paddles, takeaway bottles (and growlers last time I checked), so you’ll surely leave very satisfied.

Housed in a large brick building with an expansive interior, there’s plenty of space in the bar or dining areas and even on-site accomodation. The food in the bar and restaurant is also fantastic. Beer is used as a key ingredient in some of the food and the food is fresh and tasty.

Don’t leave without drinking… their chocolate porter, Temptress, is an absolute classic, but it goes to another level when you get this one on handpump at the brewery with the creamy mouthfeel and chocolatey flavours enhanced.

Also visit nearby… I always enjoy stopping into Trentham for some sourdough bread from the bakery there that uses wild yeast from its historic oven. There’s also Mount Macedon for the nature lovers, and Daylesford for the relaxers, depending on what’s your thing.

2. Hargreaves Hill

Housed in a beautiful historical building, Hargreaves Hill, pours a selection of their beers on tap, and offers up some top quality food. It’s worth venturing to Yarra Glen just for the food, which is a level up from your standard pub grub, with some delicious pastas and dishes featuring local produce.

Beer is what it’s all about though and they’re well stocked in that regard too. They have an ESB and Pale Ale in the range as well as the Belgian AD dubbel and a stout, which are good beers too. Usually there’ll be a special seasonal or two such as Phoenix the strong red ale that’s rich like a dessert.

Don’t leave without drinking… their ESB is a gem. Dry hopped with bodacious New Zealand hops you’ll probably want a large glass to enjoy.

Also visit nearby… If you have kids, the playground just down the street is a big one and will keep the little ones busy. In the Yarra Valley there’s plenty of wineries, but also the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie and Ice Creamery is not far, nor is Yarra Valley cheese.

3. Mornington Peninsula Brewery

The building doesn’t quite have the same charm as the previous two, being an industrial factory, but it has a wood-fired pizza oven cranking and a beer lineup that you’ll want to work your way through.

Don’t leave without drinking… take your pick, Mornington Peninsula’s range is amazingly consistent and you can’t really go wrong with whatever beer you choose. Try their Brown Ale for something different or their IPA for a hop kick.

Also visit nearby… the Red Hill Brewery is open on weekends and worth a trip and there’s a few nice wineries around. You can always enjoy the beaches along the coast there and the Missus or Mister may appreciate some relaxation at the Peninsula hot springs.

The pizza oven at Mornington Peninsula brewery.
The pizza oven at Mornington Peninsula brewery.

4. Napoleone brewery and ciderhouse

This one certainly doesn’t have the small-time brewer feel about it, it’s a bit more swanky, being a sibling of Punt Road wines. The rustic contemporary architecture sets a grand stage as part of a brilliant setup in a beautiful location in the Yarra Valley.

The brewery is co-located with the excellent Meletos restaurant, where you’ll enjoy some top notch culinary delights.

All the beers I tried were really solid and well made. There was a definite emphasis on producing well balanced beers in the more classic European styles rather than the hopped-up American IPAs, which is fine with me.

Don’t leave without drinking… their porter was actually my favorite when I visited. Just nicely made, chocolatey and with that perfect balance of sweet and dry.

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