A true phoenix from the ashes tale: Hargreaves Hill is the Victorian craft brewing scene's great survivor. When bush fires tore across the state on Black Saturday in 2009 this brewery in Steels Creek was destroyed along with most houses in the region.
The following weeks saw an outpouring of support for Hargreaves Hill from the craft beer community. And, just six months later, a new brewery was re-established in Lilydale, with a larger brew length, greater process control and improved bottling facilities. There, Simon and his brewing team started making old favourites ESB, Pale and Hefeweizen again while experimenting with new styles. It's experimentation that's continued over the years, be that creating higher alcohol beers like the Phoenix imperial red or annual R.I.S., creating a series of IPAs or playing around with barrels and bacteria as well as collaborating with other local producers such as Four Pillars Gin.
They have also taken part in a number of collabrative brews during Victoria's annual Good Beer Week festival. In 2012, they hosted a Masterclass of Champions with Californians Moylans and Norway's Nogne O, invited Brazilians Bodebrown to the brewery in 2013, in 2014 took to the dining carriages of Puffin Billy with Oregon legends Deschutes, and have made beers with local brewers including Red Hill and Sailors Grave too.
A rebrand in early 2018 saw a switch up in the core range too, with Hefeweizen and Golden Ale replaced by hoppy mid-strength JNR and a Dortmunder style Lager.
Until 2019, visitors to the Yarra Valley can sample their full range as well as one-off specials while enjoying fine cuisine at the Hargreaves Hill restaurant and cellar door in Yarra Glen. Classically-trained pianist Simon and opera singer wife Beth converted the town's beautiful former National Bank building in 2007, turning it into an oasis for lovers of the grain in the heart of one of the world's foremost wine regions.
At the start of 2019 Simon and Beth decided it was time to move on from that home they had for more than a decade and refocus the Hargreaves brand. But it wouldn't spell the end of a spot where fans could enjoy a wide range of the brewery's beers, with the team inviting mates in for Food Truck Fridays at Lilydale each week.