Our bottle shop manager, Brendan Leenders recently visited Bridge Road Brewers in Beechworth, Victoria to attend the fourth High Country Hops Festival.
The festival brought together eight breweries from the High Country Brewery trail including Bridge Road Brewers, Bright Brewery, Black Dog Brewery, Rutherglen Brewery, Social Bandit Brewing Co, Blizzard Brewing Company, King River Brewing and Sweetwater Brewing Company, along with local food producers and musicians. And although it was a tad rainy, a great day was had by all.
Bridge Road Brewers has certainly come a long way since it was conceived in Ben Kraus’ dad’s shed in 2005.
This week, we caught up with Ben to have a chat about his love of collaborations and why a visit to Beechworth is a must.
What inspired you to switch from making wine to brewing beer?
Travelling and working in Europe I tasted some amazing and interesting beers which Australia didn’t have many of at the time. So when I can back to Australia I saw a gap in the market for craft beer. There were too many wineries in Australia and it is really expensive to set up a winery. So 13 years ago I took a punt to set up a brewery in my dad’s back shed in a little town called Beechworth with a population of less than 4,000 people.
What do you love most about the Australian craft beer industry?
The diversity of beers that are being made and the nimbleness of brewers to change and adjust to consumer trends. But most importantly the collaboration between breweries. Everyone has at some stage been stuck on something in the brewery and it is only a phone call away for someone to offer advice.
Bridge Road Brewers loves a good collaboration! What was it like collaborating with Mikkeller on the Dark Harvest Black Ale?
He is an international rock star in the beer industry and recognised across the globe. I felt very humbled and privileged to be asked to brew with Mikkeller. He was so down to earth and great to talk to about all things beer. We still continue to brew the Mikkeller Dark Harvest and it sells out upon release.
You hold a lot of fun events at Bridge Road Brewers, why should beer lovers head to Beechworth for a weekend away?
Our local produce is amazing which translates into brilliant dining experiences such as two chef’s hat restaurant Provenance. Also we have a High Country Brewery trail with 7 breweries to visit. But what is spectacular is the outdoors: visit Lake Sambell in town, walk around the gorge, mountain bike or ride the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail.
Any new Bridge Road Brewers brews we should be keeping an eye out for?
Mayday Hills-Grape. This ale was made with Fighting Gully Road winery who initially provided juice from cold soaked Sanjiovese which we added to the end of boil on brew day. We then supplemented this with the skins and bunches from freshly pressed Shiraz, post fermentation.