When in Beechworth, drink beer.
Bridge Road Brewers is one of Australia’s most popular craft beer producers and is one of the foodie destinations to visit in Beechworth thanks to their brewery operations in a 150 year old coach house, the kitchen’s famous pizzas and a convivial beer garden which is particularly family-friendly.
I was invited to visit Bridge Road Brewers by Tourism North East and we rolled into Beechworth just after lunch opening on a weekday. Being unseasonably warm already the beer garden was starting to fill up so if you’re coming with a large group or want to be assured of a spot during a busy period then book ahead.
For colder climes the beer hall is spacious and filled with beer-making paraphernalia, decor and furniture as well as a cosy wood fire.
The Bridge Road Brewers kitchen makes pretzels and pizzas influenced by brewery co-owner Maria Frischmann, who grew up in the Tyrolean Alps. The kitchen bakes pretzels daily and they come plain ($3) or with a choice of cheese sauce or chocolate sauce ($4.50).
These crusty, salt-speckled twists are the perfect beer snack – thirst-inducing and easy to hold. Perhaps only a busty girl and a stein are missing for the true Tyrolean experience (and the brewery does host Oktoberfest celebrations in mid-October every year).
The kitchen is most famous for its extensive range of pizzas though you can order other beer-friendly plates such as nachos, ribs and pie or a lighter soup or salad.
Bridge Road Brewer’s pizza bases are made in house using their Bavarian Wheat Ale and it creates a crispy, bubbly base for a range of toppings. We tried the classic margherita punctuated with big dollops of Shaw River Buffalo Mozzarella and fragrant basil leaves ($17.50) and for contrast, a non-traditional “Morrison Street Butchers” Sausage Pizza with bocconcini, caramelised onions, tomato, sausage and mustard sauce ($19).
Both pizzas were bursting with hearty flavours and very filling – I think one large pizza between two would be sufficient. My only criticism is that I thought there could have been less topping so as to retain the crispiness of the base and to prevent ingredients frequently slipping off into a messy puddle (onto my lap, invariably). But in general Australian pizza eaters tend to prefer more toppings, not less, so I can understand the slightly overladen approach.
To match your food you can try a pint of any of their craft beers or go with a beer flight of up to ten tastings that arrives on its own special board.
You can also conduct your own tasting by taking home a mixed six-pack ($19.50) and for his taste RM’s pick of the beers was the Beechworth Pale Ale. He was particularly impressed that each bottle showed the ‘malt profile’ and ‘hops profile’ so you can judge the flavours for yourself.
Finally, if you’re exploring Beechworth Bridge Road Brewers is a convenient starting point because they have free town bikes for hire. The “Town Bike” is a collaboration between Bridge Road Brewers, Larder Fromagerie and Provisions and Pennyweight winery and Beechworth’s wide quiet bike-friendly streets and access to Murray to the Mountains Rail Trail give visitors another way to explore the town and its surrounds. The town is currently holding events as part of North East Victoria’s inaugural Cycle Salute cycling festival (18 October – 5 November 2013).
And if you’re going further afield, Bridge Road Brewers is one of the stops along the High Country Brewery Trail where you can cycle parts of the scenic 100km Murray to the Mountains Rail Trail and visit craft breweries in Glenrowan, Beechworth, Bright and Mount Beauty for a recovery drink.
Bridge Road Brewers, Old Coach House Brewers Lane, 50 Ford St, Beechworth +61 3 5728 2703
Kitchen opens lunch 7 Days a week, 12 – 3pm and Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings from 6pm.