Drinking locally brewed craft beer in the heart of a “paradise by the sea" would be a dream holiday for many people. And, since 2015, it’s a dream that’s been a reality for the streams of tourists travelling the Great Ocean Road each year.
The Great Ocean Road Brewhouse, situated on the Great Ocean Road highway in the seaside town of Apollo Bay, the self-styled “paradise by the sea”, is a home away from home for Prickly Moses, a brewery based in the nearby Otway Ranges.
As such, you’ll find its 16 taps pouring the full array of Prickly Moses beers, both core and seasonal, as well as its Forbidden Fruit ciders. The brewery is one of the stalwarts of the Victorian scene and has a range stretching from easy drinking ales and lagers to IPAs – including one blended with Chardonnay – to farmhouse style ales, a popular Blueberry Hefeweizen and even a beer from which profits go towards saving the endangered tiger quoll, the largest remaining marsupial predators left on the mainland that are native to the region.
They’re not averse to sharing some of the limelight, however, with the fridges lined with more than 100 local and international offerings covering most styles and tastes. Given there will be more tourists than beer geeks passing through the doors, there’s a comprehensive beer menu too, one that groups beers by style and region and comes with a glossary of beer terms at the back, serving as a useful guide for those wanting to delve further into the world of beer.
For those who don’t drink beer, there’s a large selection of local and regional wines too. And then there's the food.
Winner of the 2016 Regional Golden Plate award for Best Hotel Dining – along with Best Menu Local Wines Beers and Ciders – the meals on offer range from local tasting plates showcasing the region’s produce to the popular Brewhouse Angus Beef & Bacon Burger. Throughout the focus is on big flavour from local, fresh ingredients.
Prior to becoming the Great Ocean Road Brewhouse, the building had been home to the Ballarat Hotel, originally opened in 1887 and regularly altered and improved over the years by a number of owners. And a similar process of alterations and improvements has taken place at the adjacent venue, where the brewery’s owner, Andrew Noseda, has overseen the repurposing of a bottleshop into Tastes of the Region.
As an Apollo Bay native, this venue gives him another platform upon which to showcase his own business alongside those of local producers. So, accompanying the beer and wine is a huge selection of local produce from The Otways and Great Ocean Road regions: cheeses, meats, chutneys, oils, chocolates, honey and so on.
Completing the picture is the entertainment side of the operation. You’ll find local musicians performing at the Brewhouse, while Open Mic Sunday Sessions take place on the first Sunday of each month.
It feels like the culmination of years of hard work for Andrew and his team. Back in the early days of The Crafty Pint, Prickly Moses beers would be pretty much the only independent option at any venue you visited along the Great Ocean Road. Now, alongside a second Brewhouse operating in Queenscliff, the Great Ocean Road Brewhouse – winner of Best Innovative Retail Space at the 2021 AHA Victoria State Awards – is helping make journeys to the Surf Coast ever more appealing for beer lovers.