No one should need an extra reason to visit Bright, a true four season destination in the Victorian High Country: winters perfect for snowsports; springs and autumns that explode with colour; year round adventure sports and gourmet food and wine trails. But if you did need another reason, the Bright Brewery fits the bill…
Set in the heart of the Alpine town on the edge of the crystal clear Ovens River, it’s the perfect spot to unwind. On offer is everything from their citrusy Blowhard Pale – ideal after a hard day’s hiking or cycling the Murray to the Mountains Rail Trail – to a full-bodied Staircase Porter – as comforting as a warm blanket on cooler winter days.
Set up in 2006 by Scott Brandon and Fiona Reddaway who had left Melbourne behind for a change of pace, Bright has gone on to pick up a swag of tourism awards; pint in hand, gazing on the tree-covered surrounding mountains as the river burbles nearby, you’ll soon understand why.
The brewery plays host to regular live music on Sunday afternoons, while anyone keen to find out more about their Mountaincrafted beers can sign up for one of Bright’s monthly “Brewer for a Day” packages: spend a day behind the scenes with the brewer making a full 1200 litre batch all the way from mashing the grain to decanting it to the fermenter. Just don’t forget to return a few weeks later to taste the result straight from the tap.
In late 2012, the brewery completed a million dollar expansion program. This tripled the venue’s size, introducing much-needed additional indoor seating, resulting in one of the most impressive microbrewery bar / restaurants in the country. There’s a long bar pouring their full range of beers, massive dining area lined with wooden tables, outdoor seating front and back and cool use of old kegs for everything from lights to sinks in the toilets. It also means more place for Jon Seltin, the brewer that joined Bright in 2011, to fill with his range of specialty releases and barrel-aged experiments that have been turning heads among craft beer aficionados wherever they land.
Bright Brewery Beers
A fresh, natural easy drinking lager, Bright Lager’s a true product of its environment. It’s made with grain grown on a farm just down the road from the brewery and hops from the surrounding Alpine Valleys.
Hellfire Amber Ale
An aromatic and moderately bitter amber ale, Hellfire has a clean, dry finish that can easily lead to another.
Style: Amber Ale
Blowhard Pale Ale
An American-style pale ale with a bracing citrus aroma and crisp Cascade hop character, the Blowhard Pale Ale is a great, refreshing beer on a hot summer’s day in the Valley and the perfect accompaniment to spicy foods or fish and chips.
Style: Pale Ale
Belgian witbiers are known for their dry finish and spicy aromas and flavours. And the Razor, made with unmalted triticale wheat grown as the base of nearby Mount Buffalo, is no different, with a light, refreshing flavour displaying hints of coriander.
A fantastic, full-bodied dark ale in the traditional British style, the Staircase Porter is a true winter warmer. Bursting with dark chocolate and coffee flavours, it’s topped off with the aroma of scorched almond.
The Fainters Dubbel is a Belgian Abbey style beer, meaning it’s not one for the fainthearted. Displaying a flurry of malt flavours accentuated with raisins and spicy cloves, it comes in at 8.5%. As the brewers warn: “Treat it with reverence, lest it smite you down!” A freeze distilled Super Dubbel version of this is currently undergoing testing in the labs.
Style: Abbey Dubbel
Bright Brewery Oktoberfest
Having released the likes of a massive Barleywine and a tiny midstrength along with a fruity sour in recent months, the latest release from Bright is rather more middle of the road. Being October, it’s an Oktoberfest style beer, aka a Vienna Lager, and ticks all the boxes of the style. It’s a bright, copper-hued affair with biscuity, bready aromas and a touch of subtle German hop too, with those bready characteristics following through in the mouth with some soft toffee flavours in a beer that has a lovely full mouthfeel yet finishes nice and clean.
Or, as brewer Jon Seltin puts it rather more succinctly, it’s “liquid bread.”
It’s pouring at the brewery throughout the month where, rather than jumping legs first into some lederhosen for a big Oktoberfest event, they’re complementing the beer with Bavarian themed food, music and décor to set the tone for a relaxed month long celebration.
Style: Oktoberfest Vienna Lager
Bright Brewery Little Brother
There’s a very strict rule in place for any brewer taking part in this year’s GABS – your beer must not be released anywhere before GABS is over (so we’ll keep schtum about the US entry we sampled at the Craft Brewers Conference in March – was bloody delish though!!!). However, that doesn’t mean you can’t have offshoots of your GABS beer, which is what the team at Bright has done, creating a “parti gyle” brew with the left over grain from their epic entry. “Parti gyle” beers use what’s left over to create a weaker beer, meaning in this case a beer from the aftermath of brewer Jon Seltin’s barley/rye/oat wine. He tells us the “grist is 40 per cent rye malt, 5 per cent oat malt, and the balance a couple of different types of malted barley. Kettle hops are all Mosaic, dry hops are all Slovenian varieties.” It’s on tap at the brewery now, where you can also snap up tickets to their Hop, Skip & Lunch Good Beer Week event.
Style: Partigyle Ale
Bright Pinky Framboise 2013
It’s time to get fruity and funky with Bright Brewery as they bring their raspberry sour out of retirement, with the 2013 version having enjoyed a rather lengthy gestation period. The base beer has spent a year in tank with 100kg of locally sourced raspberries, during which time it’s been fed with all manner of funky yeast strains: Lactobacillus, Pediococcus, Brettanomyces bruxellensis, Brettanomyces lambicus and two Saccharomyces strains for good measure. According to Bright’s head brewer Jon Seltin: “We’re quite proud of how the Pinky has turned out: gorgeous pink colour, very layered and complex aroma and palate with massive raspberry aroma above all the bretty complexity that has developed over the past year – think sourness, damp hay, bran and wheat, wool, humus, and a slight woodsy mustiness. It has a nice, restrained lactic sourness which will, along with the brett characteristics, continue to develop on the bottle over the next several years.” There’s very little of it and, says Jon, it may never be made like this again so if you’d like to get hold of a bottle contact the brewery ASAP.
Style: Fruit Lambic
Bright Brewery MIA IPA 2013
This was a beer that really excited us here at Crafty Towers when it first appeared, being the beer that announced Bright’s then new brewer Jon Seltin as one to watch (and watch out for overhead if strapped to his paraglider…). He’s backed it up with many a fine release since and now is back with the latest take on the hoppy-as-hell IPA. It’s not quite the same beer as last time around. Why? Because Jon “couldn’t help ratcheting it up a couple of notches”. Ah, good old temptation got the better of him, which is nice. That means you can expect a slightly higher ABV at 7.4 per cent and even more hop aroma thanks to a “slightly higher dry hopping rate”. This batch is keg only but they’re planning on a packaged release in 750ml in the near future now that the have the ability to do so with their spanking new brewery.
Bright Brewery Pilot Light
With the expansion complete and brewing operations back up and running again at Bright Brewery, the new beers are starting to flow from Jon Seltin. The first one to grace the taps of the brand spanking new Alpine set up is the Pilot Light, a sessionable English IPA. John tells us: “The Pilot IPA is a single batch release [at] 2.9 per cent crafted to taste like something much bigger. It was actually a really fun beer to brew, and quite a balancing act – it can be difficult to make a really full bodied beer that is able to hold up to the hopping schedule of an IPA, while keeping it under three per cent ABV. It’s full of Celeia and East Kent Goldings hops, added throughout the boil and also generously dry-hopped post fermentation. The grist was almost all English Marris Otter, mashed very warm and thick to yield a really dextrinous wort.” It’s on tap at the Brewery now but not expected to last too much longer than this long weekend.
Style: English IPA
Bright Stubborn Russian 2012
Among last year’s impressive haul of Aussie brewed Imperial Stouts was Bright’s Stubborn Russian. It was actually one of the lower ABV offerings of the haul, something that has been seen to for this year. In the words of brewer Jon Seltin, it’s “black, bigger, badder” stands at 9.6 pr cent yet “is smoother and more integrated than the last release – a good sign that it’s a winner is the fact that it’s now the go-to beer for all our beer-geek bar staff,” he says. This year’s contains more toasted oats and a higher percentage of dehusked dark roast malt. Jon says to expect “all the classic impy stout ticks – bitter chocolate, spicy dark bread, alcohol warmth and the ghosts of Goldings hops haunting the aroma.” He’s holding onto a few bottles until next winter so perhaps you’d best get two and do the same.
Style: Imperial Stout
Bright Mystic Mild
The latest seasonal from Bright Brewery sees them reining in the alcohol content after unleashing an Imperial Stout and punchy IPA in recent months. The Mystic Mild rocks in at just 3.0% but, that said, it’s no flavour free zone or lager-like light. Nope, it’s a beer that appears to look to the milds of the UK for inspiration, a deep amber / brown beer that, according to the brewers, is characterised by “raisin toast, dark bread and cigar box/cedar”. It’s on tap at the brewery now; we’ll let you know if and when it appears elsewhere.
Bright M.I.A. IPA
This beer was very nearly its creators final gift to the world. The day before it was due to be debuted to the world at the Victorian Microbreweries Showcase, brewer Jon Seltin went paragliding and had to do an emergency landing atop of Mt Feathertop. It took him six hours just to hike down, meaning he didn’t return to the brewery until around 10PM (after being MIA since 2pm), by which stage brewery owner Scott Brandon had called the police to retrieve his body. Thankfully, he was only MIA, not DOA, so this is no parting gift. Instead, it’s a really rather fabulous celebration of fruity, tropical, floral hops, with a nicely balanced bitterness and a malt structure that does just what it needs to in order that the hops can sing. Here’s hoping more is brewed before something else happens to the brewer…
Bitterness: 70 IBU
Bright Stubborn Russian
Anyone who follows Bright’s new brewer Jon on Twitter will be aware that he’s been getting rather giddy in recent weeks, first at the prospect of brewing a Russian Imperial Stout, then at naming it and now at releasing it. The last of these happens at the brewery today (Aug 5), with the brew at the heart of his excitement described as “intensely roasty and very full-bodied Russian Imperial Stout. Loads of dark fruit and mocha aromas, with a viscous, velvety mouthfeel.” Sounds delightful. We’ll let you know when and where it is going to appear once it makes its way out of the Victorian Alps (assuming Jon lets any go).
Style: Russian Imperial Stout
Bright Topaz Märzen
One of a rash of unique hop harvest beers to come out of Victoria’s breweries this year, this saw Bright take the Topaz hop, a variety that’s been around for years, and try something different with it. Traditionally used to make a beer bitter, here Bright decided to add it late in the brewing process after they were told that the guys that developed the hop at neighbouring Rostrevor Hop Farm reckoned it had previously untapped potential for aroma and flavour. It would seem the guys knew what they were on about too as the hops add so much hop character to what started out as a Märzen (a Germanic lager that’s typically malt driven) that the characters of citrus, passionfruit and paw paw are really rather prominent. Unless you’re puritanical about your Märzens being to style, however, you’ll happily forgive them as it’s a lovely beer lent a reasonably thick body by the resins from the freshly harvested hops.
Style: Hop Harvest Lager
Bright Pinky Framboise
They’ve been feeling fruity up in the Victorian mountains, it seems, with Bright deciding to mark the end of the summer with a Raspberry Lambic. Brewed using 60kg of locally grown raspberries from Bright Berry Farms, the brewers tell us it pours an “eye-catching red/pink colour” and has a “distinct berry aroma” that “leads into a tart upfront flavour which is instantly recognisable as raspberry”. It’s the first time they’ve made the beer in three years but still get requests for it to return. Bright owner Scott Brandon has also created a special trial batch. ”When I was out mountain biking near home I noticed how amazing the blackberries are this year. They’re a weed, but a delicious one. So the kids and I picked enough blackberries to make a small trial batch of blackberry lambic. Early tastings are showing something like a beautiful rose champagne.” As such, they’re thinking of holding a public blackberry pick next year for a full brew. The raspberry lambic’s being tapped at the brewery at 2pm on March 6 and will be available for sampling at the Microbreweries Showcase – but you’ll have to ask for it.
Style: Fruit Lambic
There’s a series of TV ads in the UK that’s been running for decades with the tagline: “It does exactly what it says on the tin.” It could equally apply to Bright’s winter warmer, which comes complete with a seriously thick mouthfeel and a fiercely dark brown head. They serve as an omen of what’s to come: big mocha aromas with a touch of dark fruit and alcohol, which make way for a palate-smothering wave of rich chocolate, a roast coffee hit and a bitter finish. Get it before it’s gone.
Style: Export Stout