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. Since then, the pub has attracted ever-growing crowds to the point that it's frequently booked to bursting, while the beers have evolved – and along with them the brewery.

Having outgrown the original kit, the owner bought a larger one from Kiwi superstars Garage Project when they were upgrading themselves. It meant extending the brewery building, but the proof of the pudding has been, as they almost say, in the drinking. With well travelled brewer Stu Ritchie at the helm, the core beers have been reworked and snapped up a series of gold medals along the way, while he's added many limited release beers too. Among them have been beers you never would have imagined coming out of such a brewery when it opened: a sour saison or maple cream, hoppy brown ale for example.

The grounds have been enhanced at the same time, adding several outdoor areas, from terracing to a wide lawned area where they host semi-regular large events, including the annual OkTooberfest. They're often found at other major event too, pouring beers from a converted ambulance renamed the Beerbulance. The final piece in the jigsaw of transformation has been with its branding; Red Duck head brewer and graphic designer Scott Wilson-Browne was invited to reinvent their look in 2015, with the old school British feel replaced by something much more contemporary.

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.

Name
Tooborac Hotel & Brewery
Address

5115 Northern Highway
Tooborac
Victoria 3522

Phone
(03) 5433 5201
Website
Hours

Seven days a week

Tours

Walk up and ask

Current Crafty Cabal offers

Free Tasting Paddle with Your Meal

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The Regulars

Tooborac Blacksmiths Porter

Originally a limited release from Tooborac, the Porter went on to join their permanent range. It's a sweet, fruity take on the style with soft milk chocolate aromas mixed with fruity hops that appear to taste too. There's cola like flavours as well as some earthy hops to taste too. ··· Read more
Style
Porter
Strength
5.5%

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. Since the 2015 rebrand, it's presented as a wolf in sheep's clothing. In the glass, it pours a pale straw colour with lemony hops and light honey like malt aromas. It's lightly fruity, softly sweet and as easy-going as you'd expect ··· Read more
Style
Lager
Strength
4.6%

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. It's also the beer that's fared best for the brewery in competitions, collecting a gold at Sydney's notoriously tough annual beer awards. It offers up punchy hops and a big bitterness for its size, contained within a deep, rusty coloured ··· Read more
Style
American Pale Ale
Strength
4.8%

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 Stonemasons is based up the classic Aussie pale ale style, thus yeast characteristics are prominent along with some white wine like fruitiness and only a gentle bitterness. ··· Read more
Style
Australian Pale Ale
Strength
5.0%

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 amber ale has been through various transitions since it was first launched. These days, it's a beer that pours with a deep amber colour, offers up toffee apple aromas before delivering all manner of malt led flavours. Look out for toffee and toasted caramel (like the inside of a Dime bar) as well as dates and a touch of ··· Read more
Style
Amber Ale
Strength
5.3%

The Specials

Tooborac Brewery Chocolate Sanchez

Tapped Wed Jul 1 2015
Chilli beers can be hit or miss. Some breweries like to use them as something of a novelty on their lineup, usually breweries that only brew small batches and sell onsite. Occasionally, they're used to dramatic nature as a one-off or annual release – or something to catch people's attention over just 85ml at GABS. Sometimes, however, chillies are added to create one subtle element of a broader beer and that's the case here. The Chocolate Sanchez winter seasonal from Tooborac takes chilli chocolate ··· Read more
Style
Chocolate Chili Stout

Tooborac Brewery Ca$hed Up Summer Ale

Tapped Tue Dec 15 2015
Plenty has been going on at Tooborac Brewery in 2015. It's bigger thanks to the installation of Garage Project's old brewery, it has a striking brand new look and has been producing a series of often off kilter limited releases, a sour saison and chilli chocolate stout among them. However, while they may have nudged the envelope for some of those limited release beers this year, for their final beer of the year they've kept things rather simpler. The Ca$hed Up Summer Ale is a simpler beast, one designed ··· Read more
Style
Summer Ale
Strength
4.3%
Stockists

Tooborac Hotel

Select Victorian stockists

Tooborac Brewery Maple Cream Brown Ale

Tapped Wed Sep 9 2015
It's all change at Tooborac or, perhaps more accurately, change continues at Tooborac. It's been a while now since they installed Garage Project's old brewing kit at the back of their bluestone hotel on the Northern Highway in Victoria and a while too since well travelled brewer Stu Ritchie took over the brewing reins. The most recent change is skin deep, with the brewery's old school, English-inspired branding replaced with something more in keeping with the times. The first beer to bear the new ··· Read more
Style
Maple American Brown Ale
Strength
5.8%
Stockists

Tooborac Hotel & Brewery

The Raccoon Club

Station Hotel Footscray

The Cambrian Bendigo

Mr Beebe's Bendigo

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Tooborac Brewery New World Pilsner

Tapped Fri Feb 6 2015
Given the talk about lagers making a come back in the craft beer world, the results of the most recent Hottest 100 Aussie Craft Beers poll was a little surprising. Just one lager made the 100, the lowest in the poll's seven year history. Still, it took sours a little longer than we thought to really make headway so perhaps this will be the year the revival of Saccharomyces pastorianus really hits home. There have been a few pilsners released already and now Tooborac has pumped one out of the former ··· Read more
Style
New World Pilsner
Strength
5.8%
Stockists

Tooborac Hotel & Brewery

Cambrian Hotel, Bendigo

Others TBC

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Tooborac Brewery Red India Pale Ale

Tapped Mon Jan 5 2015
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 ··· Read more
Style
Red IPA
Strength
5.6%
Bitterness
65 IBU
Stockists

Tooborac Hotel & Brewery

Edinburgh Castle

Wesley Anne

Charles Weston Hotel (old Sporting Club in Brunswick)

Cambrian Hotel, Bendigo

Others TBC

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Tooborac Brewery Smokin' Summer Ale

Tapped Fri Nov 21 2014
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 ··· Read more
Style
Smoked, Spiced Summer Ale
Stockists

Tooborac Brewery & Hotel

Edinburgh Castle

More to follow

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Tooborac Brewer's Own: Dark Ale

Tapped Thu Oct 6 2011
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 ··· Read more
Style
Dark Ale
Strength
5.5%
Stockists

Tooborac Hotel & Brewery

Prince Patrick Hotel, Collingwood

Gin Palace, Melbourne

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Tooborac Hogshead

Tapped Thu Sep 8 2011
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 ··· Read more
Style
Barrel-Aged Dark Ale
Strength
6.3%

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