A bridge worth crossing

Winemaker Ben Kraus switched from grape to grain via Ballart University’s post-grad brewing course – a connection that gave him not just a piece of paper but a brewery, too.

Chief lecturer Rob Greig alerted Ben to the sale, by Lawrence Victor Estate, of its brewing equipment – and that was the birth of Bridge Road Brewers, Beechworth.

In that lovely Victorian town, in a little lane off Ford Street, Ben brews what are, to my taste, some of the best craft beers in the country. And they’re served just metres from the vats in a comfy little cellar-door and courtyard facility.

Ben offers on tap a Bavarian style wheat beer, American style pale ale, Aussie pale ale, Celtic Red Ale and Dark Ale with varying specialties, currently a Saisson Belgian style farm house ale and a high alcohol, syrupy-rich biere-de-garde.

Brian Loader sells the bottled versions at Kingston markets or see www.bridgeroadbrewers.com.au for direct purchases.

Bridge Road Brewery Beechworth Wheat Ale 330ml-6pack $19
You can buy the bottled version from Brian Loader at Kingston markets and it’s good, but for the real five-star thrill you must try it on tap at the brewery. Served ultra-fresh like this it delivers the wonderful fruity high notes of the southern German wheat style.

Bridge Road Brewery Beechworth Dark Ale 330ml-6pack $20
Brewer Ben Kraus says this goes well with chocolate cake or oysters, presumably not at the same time. It’s definitely good with the brewery’s home-baked pretzels or on its own and distinctive because though dark coloured and assertive chocolate and roast malt in flavour, is quite lean bodied and refreshingly dry.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2007