Napoleone Brewery & Cider House

Back when The Crafty Pint launched in the second half of 2010, the Yarra Valley region was already becoming something of a hotspot for microbreweries. Hargreaves Hill was established in Yarra Glen, Coldstream was operating as a brewpub just down the road, Buckley’s was brewing beers on one of the country’s more homespun setups, and Little Creatures’ little sibling White Rabbit was doing the same on one of the country’s more high tech setups.

Yet, rather than grow, the ensuing years saw Coldstream decommission its onsite brewery to contract its beers elsewhere and White Rabbit move lock, stock and barrel room to Geelong. However, Hargreaves and Buckley’s aren’t the only breweries operating in the Valley as, late in 2014, the family behind Napoleone Cider and Punt Road Wines decided to add beer to their CV.

Napoleone Brewers shares the site in the heart of the Valley where the Napoleone family started growing apples in 1948 before adding vines in the early 80s. And what a site it is. The driveway takes you past rows of vines towards the brewery, restaurant and adjacent accommodation and, wherever you turn, you’re met with views stretching across Victoria’s most popular tourism destination to the surrounding hills.

It’s not just the natural surrounds that catch the eye either. Taking as their starting point an 1860s dairy, the family built the brewery and ciderhouse on one side of it and a restaurant on the other, with the bar sitting smack bang in the middle of where the cows would once have been milked. And, while the additions are new, they’ve been designed and landscaped in such a way that you’d swear the building had been around for decades. Expanses of timber and concrete, reclaimed farmhouse gear and repurposed furniture maintain the rustic rural feel, although you’d be excused from not noticing given the towering walls of glass that ensure you can enjoy Valley views while seated inside too.

Heading up brewing at launch was Ben Waymouth, who joined Napoleone from gluten free specialists, O’Brien’s of Ballarat, to take up his first head brewer role. Very much a traditionalist, his fondness for older European styles rather than US-inspired hop bombs was brought to bear on Moo Brew’s old equipment, while he began playing around with the winery’s barrels too, including making a 100 percent Brettanomyces fermented pinot noir as a means of showing the Punt Road winemakers that Brett needn’t be that scary.

Since he moved on, former brewers from neighbouring Hargreaves Hill had taken up the reins and, while some beers – a German style lager, a pale ale (the sole demand from the bosses at launch) an English ESB and the Breakneck Porter among them – remain, the range has been undergoing an evolution. The beers can be sampled as part of a tasting paddle or taken home bottled or, in the case of specialties, via growler.

The restaurant, Meletos, bakes its breads onsite and offers authentic wood-fired pizza and other traditional Italian dishes as well as a limited wine list (you’ll find more at the Punt Road cellar door down the next driveway). Also on site is The Stables accommodation just a stone’s throw from the brewery.

Taken together, it makes for quite the package: beer, wine, cider and pizza all created on site, often from ingredients grown there too, and somewhere to rest your head at night if you plan to indulge. What more could you ask for?

Name
Napoleone Brewery & Cider House
Address

12 St Huberts Rd
Coldstream
VIC 3770

Phone
(03) 9738 9100
Website
Hours

10am to 5pm seven days a week

Tours

Tours are available seven days a week depending on brewery operations.

Current Crafty Cabal offers

Complimentary Napoleone Brewers Tasting Paddle

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Napoleone Brewery & Cider House Regulars

Napoloeone Brewers American Pale Ale

The owners only request to brewer Ben Waymouth when he joined the fledgling brewery was that there had to be an American style pale ale on the lineup. As the rest of his range – and the seasonals he likes to brew on occasion – suggest, he's not usually of the punchy, hop forward US-influenced sort. Yet he did what he was told and has developed a pale ale that can hold its head up in the company of those brewed by avowed US hop lovers. There's little mistaking the distinctive American hop aromas… Read more
Style
American Pale Ale
ABV
4.5%
Bitterness
35 IBU

Napoleone Brewers Saison Duval

Before anyone goes thinking Napoleone's saison is some sort of hybrid inspired by the Belgian strong golden classic Duvel, we should point out that Duval simply means "of the valley". It's a title in keeping with the entire ethos of the brewery: an old school approach to traditionally minded beers. Saisons are proving increasingly popular in Australia, which has a climate (most of the year) to suit their refreshing, tart, spicy character. Few if any some quite as lean and dry as this, however.… Read more
Style
Saison
ABV
5.7%
Bitterness
20 IBU

Napoleone Brewers Helles Lager

One of the mainstays of the Napoleone year round range is their lager, inspired by the classic versions from southern Germany: very pale, very delicate, very subtle. It pours the lightest of pale golds and allows the crisp, cracker and honey like pilsner malt to shine through. There's a hint of lemon, the faintest fruitiness and enough bitterness for a dry finish without being intrusive, but mainly it's all about the malt.… Read more
Style
Lager
ABV
5.1%
Bitterness
17 IBU

Napoleone Brewers Breakneck Porter

The first beer we sampled from Napoleone Brewers arrived by surprise. We were hosting a porter Blind Tasting and one of the panellists, a home brewing bar owner, brought a couple of bottles along. They'd just arrived as samples from the new Yarra Valley startup and were pitted straight into action against an array of local and imported porters. Considering it was a first stab from a new brewery, the Breakneck fared remarkably well, finishing among the top five Aussie entries. It's reasonably light… Read more
Style
Porter
ABV
5.1%

Napoleone Brewery & Cider House Specials

Napoleone Brewers Barleywine

Tapped July 30th, 2018
When you're part of an operation that also incorporates a winery, it would be a travesty in this day and age if you didn't take advantage. And taking advantage of its sibling is something Napoleone's brewers have been happy to do, with this Barleywine the result of one such endeavour. The base beer was aged for six months in four French oak barrels, two of which had previously housed white wine, one red and one a fortified wine. The four were then blended back together to create this 13 percent ABV… Read more
Style
Wine Barrel Aged Barleywine
ABV
13.0%
Stockists

Available in bottles from the Napoleone cellar door

Napoleone Brewers Sauvignon Galaxy & Saison du Chard

Tapped February 22nd, 2018
Napoleone Brewers is just one thread of a business that incorporates a cidery and winery too. So why not make use of the ingredients and techniques within the wider operation? That's what they've done here in creating two releases that aren't beer but they're not quite wine either. For Sauvignon Galaxy, the brewers borrowed some Sauvignon Blanc harvest from Punt Road Wines, added a dry hop addition of Tasmanian Galaxy then fermented in French oak white wine barriques. In the glass, it looks like… Read more
Style
Hybrid Wines
ABV
10.5% & 10.9%
Stockists

Available from Napoleone's cellar door

Napoleone Brewers & Black Pearl Brownlow Ale

Tapped August 22nd, 2016
The partnerships between small brewers and small bars continue to flourish. Jumping into bed together in Victoria for the first time in winter 2016 are legendary Fitzroy bar Black Pearl and Yarra Valley brewery Napoleone Brewers. The fruit of their combined labour is a brown ale with an Aussie twist that will be pouring exclusively at the bar (other than a solitary keg that stayed behind at the brewery cellar door). The Aussie twist (apart from the name Brownlow) is the use of wattleseed alongside… Read more
Style
Wattleseed Brown Ale
ABV
4.6%
Stockists

Black Pearl

Napoleone Brewers ESB (cans)

Tapped May 25th, 2016
For the most part, Yarra Valley's Napoleone Brewers are dyed in the wool traditionalists. Yes, there's an American style pale ale on their lineup (the owners insisted on it and it later won gold at Sydney's beer awards) but generally they stand apart from most of the contemporary Australian beer world thanks to a preference for malt and yeast driven beers that shun the US led race for all things bigger and hoppier. That said, they're dallying with modern trends in at least one way with the release… Read more
Style
ESB
ABV
5.5%
Bitterness
35 IBU
Stockists

Napoleone Brewery

Public Brewery

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Napoleone Cloudy Cider (Cans)

Tapped November 11th, 2015
Long before they started brewing beer, the people behind Napoleone Brewers in the Yarra Valley were making wine and cider. And they've just added a previously keg only version of the latter to their core range in cans in time for the 2015/16 summer. For three years prior, they'd been producing small batches of their unfiltered, cloudy apple cider and now they've sent some offsite to get the tinnie treatment. It features a selection of their own estate grown apples, a spot of blending and malolactic… Read more
ABV
4.7%

Napoleone Brewers Rauchbier

Tapped November 12th, 2015
Earlier in 2015, Napoleone Brewers invited the Ale Stars from the Local Taphouse in St Kilda to join them for a brew day. Typically, these events end up producing something heaving with hops. But, given that's not really the way brewer Ben at the Yarra Valley brewery rolls, instead they went in a completely different direction and ended up brewing a Rauchbier, AKA a smoked beer of the sort popularised by the brewers of Germany's Bamberg region. The beer got a lot of love at Good Beer Week and GABS… Read more
Style
Rauchbier
ABV
5.7%
Bitterness
25 IBU
Stockists

Napoleone Brewery Cellar Door

Napoleone Brewers White Goose Hefeweizen

Hefeweizen can come wearing a range of attires, from those that like to wrap themselves in sweet, candied bananas to those leaner, drier, spicier beasts at the other end of the scale – and much in between. At Napoleone they favour the latter approach and, as such, brewer Ben opts for a low fermentation temperature when brewing his White Goose so he can coax clove like esters from the yeast rather than creating a "banana bomb". He also adds some oats alongside the hefty dose of wheat in… Read more
Style
Hefeweizen
ABV
4.8%
Bitterness
18 IBU

Napoleone Brewers ESB

A beer that is close to brewer Ben Waymouth's heart, what with his love of all things traditional. This beer eschews the New World hop twist favoured by many local brewers when recreating beers from the UK and instead sticks to the old favourite East Kent Goldings. The result is a beer with subtle floral, woody, twiggy hop aromas, a touch of tobacco and bready, toasted malt flavours keeping them company. Ben also brewed a bigger version for an event at Good Beer Week 2015. the Fighting Jack tipped… Read more
Style
ESB (Extra Special Bitter)
ABV
5.1%
Bitterness
35 IBU
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