Tooborac Hotel & Brewery

The two-storey bluestone building that houses the Tooborac Hotel & Brewery has long been one of the most striking country pubs in Victoria. Yet, for several years after the turn of the Millennium, it sat empty - until, on a trip to nearby Heathcote, James and Val Carlin spotted the "For Sale" sign, fell for its charms and decided to give it a new lease of life.

Upon opening in late 2005, the couple was unable to get hold of a Carlton globe for the roof to let passers-by know they were open so came up with an ingenious ruse: Val bought an inflatable Santa, stuck him on the roof and word began to spread.

Before too long, the restaurant had such a reputation among locals the Carlins had to build a 70-seat extension at the rear to cope and, emboldened by their success, they decided to extend the offering. The old Cobb & Co stable was falling down and in real risk of collapse, but serendipity struck when they found a "Brewery for Sale" sign on their doorstep. The old Rifle Brigade Brewery, in Bendigo, was available so they snapped it up and set about rebuilding the stables.

Fully two years later, it was all in place and ready to go, with the first beers rolling out of the brewery in 2009. Ten minutes south of Heathcote and just over an hour north of Melbourne on the Northern Highway, the brewery offers a refreshing alternative in an area dominated by wine. It's seen the hotel grow from popular pub and restaurant to a destination in itself, helped by the onsite accommodation: a one bedroom B&B room attached to the main building and a three bedroom cottage to the rear. Visit at the right time of year and you can even catch the annual sheep shearers challenge, an event that brings in people from all across the region.

Tooborac Hotel & Brewery

5115 Northern Highway
Victoria 3522

(03) 5433 5201

Seven days a week


Walk up and ask

The Regulars

Tooborac Blacksmiths Porter

Originally a limited release from Tooborac, the Porter has now joined their permanent range. This smooth, rich dark brown beer has plenty of chocolate malt flavours backed up with some spicy Goldings hops. ··· Read more

Tooborac Shearer's Lager

Given they've held sheep-shearing contests at the hotel that is home to Tooborac Brewery, it seems only right that they have a beer named in honour of it. And it seems only right that the beer is a refreshing lager, the sort you'd hanker for after a solid days' shearing. Pale straw in colour with a lingering Hallertau hop finish, it's the brewery's gateway beer for newcomers to craft beer. ··· Read more

Tooborac Gunslingers American Pale Ale

OK, so we said elsewhere that all of Tooborac's beers take their name from the traditional trades of the region. Whether "gunslinger" counts as a trade, we're not too sure, but what we do know is that this is the brewers' beer for the hopheads out there. The use of Cascade hops gives the beer big citrus and grapefruit characteristics, making for a refreshing drop. ··· Read more
American Pale Ale

Stonemasons Pale Ale

All of Tooborac's beers are named after the tradesmen local to the area, with this so called "in memory of the local craftsman who hewed and sculptured the iron hard granite which reflected the mason's own strength and artistry." The new Stonemasons is a classic Aussie pale ale, albeit one that doesn't use any Aussie hops, instead using British East Kent Goldings and US Citra to create a well balanced, crisp beer with a light citrus aroma and gentle bitterness. ··· Read more
Australian Pale Ale

Woodcutter's Amber Ale

Named in honour of the woodcutters of the region who would "echo the ring of their axes as they felled the massive iron and stringybark of the local McHarg Ranges", this new recipe Amber Ale is an easy drinking, smooth amber coloured ale with hints of toffee and a mild bitterness. Crystal and chocolate malt provide the colour, while Amarillo and Cascade hops provide the citrus balance. ··· Read more
Amber Ale

The Specials

Tooborac Brewery Red India Pale Ale

While 2014 may have been the year in which saisons came to the fore and beer geeks rejoiced at the growing number of sours and wild ales on the scene, when it came to looking at the best new brews nominated by the Crafty Pint's state-by-state pickers it was variations on India red ales that cropped up more than any other. Perhaps it's little surprise that the style should be so appreciated; when done well it is essentially a meeting of lots of hops and lots of flavoursome malts. As we once wrote many moons ago of 8 Wired's Tall Poppy (one of the first and still among the finest Antipodean takes on the style), it's a beer that other beers want to be when they grow up. And now there's another one on the market as Stu Ritchie, head brewer at Tooborac Brewery, continues to flex the muscles of his new toy, the 1200 litre brewery picked up from Wellington's Garage Project. The draught only Red IPA was debuted at a couple of beer festivals late in 2014 and is now appearing on a few taps around ··· Read more
65 IBU

Tooborac Hotel & Brewery

Edinburgh Castle

Wesley Anne

Charles Weston Hotel (old Sporting Club in Brunswick)

Cambrian Hotel, Bendigo

Others TBC

Released January 5 2015

Tooborac Brewery Smokin' Summer Ale

If first impressions are anything to go by, the future is bright for the first limited release to emerge from the recently installed new brewery at Tooborac. The Smokin' Summer Ale's first exposure to the public came at the 2014 Bendigo Craft Beer Festival, where it took out the People's Choice title as Best Beer of the Festival. We're told it's a light bodied, refreshing summer ale, but one with much more going on than those words may initially conjure. Look out for an initial smoke character imparted by specialty cured malt that was smoked on manuka wood chips, some spice from fresh galangal, a touch of Victorian bush honey and a floral hint from Kiwi Motueka hops. According to Tooborac's Beer Dude: "Smokin’ Summer Ale is a lovely beer on its own, but matches perfectly with summer flavours off the grill." Hence why when it makes its Melbourne bow at the Edinburgh Castle Hotel in Sydney Road, Brunswick, the chef is concocting some suitably beer-friendly dishes in the form of Southern ··· Read more
Smoked, Spiced Summer Ale

Tooborac Brewery & Hotel

Edinburgh Castle

More to follow

Released November 21 2014

Tooborac Brewer's Own: Dark Ale

The first in what will become a series of Brewer's Own releases from the Tooborac brewery has just been bottled. It's an eminently sessionable dark ale, one in which you can see a progression from the brewery's classic style Aussie Pale through the gentle toffee malts of the Amber to this. Pouring a dark brown with orange hints and a thin tan head, it's a malt led number that's all about sweet chocolate and toffee on the nose and follows through in a similar vein in the mouth, where there's a hint of dark cocoa too. Like a lighter porter, it's one that will go down easily even as the weather warms up. ··· Read more
Dark Ale

Tooborac Hotel & Brewery

Prince Patrick Hotel, Collingwood

Gin Palace, Melbourne

Released October 6 2011

Tooborac Hogshead

Tooborac's new brewer asked us not to do a listing for this as he's down to the last handful of bottles. But what the hey, it's such a good statement of where Chris intends to take the tiny brewery an hour or so north of Melbourne that we thought we would anyway. Having remade the brewery's Pale and Amber to his recipes, he's knocked out the driest of dry stouts and this over the winter months, this being a sizeable dark ale (his Porter we believe) that spent two months in a merlot barrel. The result is nice and smooth, with the wine subtly apparent in the aroma and in the mouth, blending rather seamlessly with the chocolate and toffee malt characters. You'll have to be quick to taste this year's batch, already next year's version - which will spend around a year in the barrel - is already bubbling away in the brewery. ··· Read more
Barrel-Aged Dark Ale

Released September 8 2011


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