Brewing up history – Goulburn’s Bradley Grange

Bradley Grange, Goulburn. Photo Chris Shanahan
Bradley Grange, Goulburn. Photo Chris Shanahan

The remarkable Bradley Grange property, housing the Old Goulburn Brewery, lies behind the big merino’s arse, near the Goulburn back roads Canberrans once navigated to avoid main-street.

Grange’s buildings, designed by Francis Greenway and built from 1833, housed “the various activities associated with brewing, malting, milling, coopering, smithing and stabling”, according to the brewery website.

Amazingly, the buildings survived the centuries. And now restored to their original shapes, if not full functionality, they stand as a unique museum of colonial architecture and commerce.

We visited for the beer and finally did taste it in the old malt house. Before that, however, the ghosts of brewers, coopers and maltsters past lured us through the old buildings.

There’s a homespun feel to the displays. But beautifully written information boards in the various galleries give profound insights into the brilliant mind of Francis Greenway, and the diverse – and surprising – influences on his designs.

Old Goulburn Brewery Goulburn Gold 750ml $9.50
The Old Goulburn Brewery barman, Michael, isn’t telling us much. In fact he’s serving the pale golden beer blind, leaving us to work out what it was. Well, it was delicious, surprisingly so for an ale of just 2.7 per cent alcohol: gentle, soft and malty with an assertive, refreshing hops bitterness.

Orkney Brewery Skull Splitter 330ml $7.50
Orkney’s “wee heavy” delivers the dessert-like richness of traditional, strong Scottish ale. Forget about hops and bitterness. This is all about rich, sweet malt flavours – including caramel- and –molasses-like characters – combined with a heady 8.5 per cent alcohol. It’s a delicious, harmonious, winter warmer – in fact, far from skull splitting.

Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2015
First published 4 and 5 August 2015 in and the Canberra Times