When your brewing kit costs more to get up a mountain than it did to ship it from China and San Diego, it’s hard to doubt a brewery’s commitment to craft beer. Such was the task faced by Colorado expat Mark Hubbard when he found himself working in tourism in the Victorian High Country, near the Dinner Plain ski fields, and decided that one thing was missing: a brewery with a tap room experience.
As an avid snow sports fan, he was more than used to settling down with a good beer after a day on the slopes around Colorado and felt that Australia could similarly benefit from a well-positioned brewery offering pale ales and porters high above sea level.
So, halfway through 2015, Mark set the wheels in motion and found a building at Dinner Plain that could accommodate a space for brewing as well as a bar area for the punters. Add in the ability for skiers to ski right to the front door and it was a recipe for success.
But first they had to get the brewing equipment up the mountain: to a final altitude of 1550 metres. He enlisted a freight company to make the journey up the winding track that is the Great Alpine Road in the middle of a freezing cold day – and was soon faced with another challenge above and beyond the cost of this final delivery leg: the gear getting stuck halfway up the mountain as a storm set in. But Mark’s commitment was strong, proving that the brewery’s slogan – Beer Above All – was more than just a play on their location; after a few frantic phone calls and, quite probably, a few more grey hairs on the head, the brewery was delivered to the waiting brewhouse, some 12 hours after the truck first began its ascent.
Despite the difficulties in getting the equipment to the isolated mountain site, brewing was underway not long after, and the first beers were out by Easter 2016. Among the core range you’ll find the Powder Pale Ale, Brandy Creek Kolsch, Avalanche Amber Ale, Ice Horse IPA and Summit Stout. The theme is clear, with the surrounding mountain peaks and wintry conditions proving to be the perfect muse for Blizzard’s releases.
With the active lifestyles of High Country dwellers and visitors a key consideration, Mark chose to can the core range, rather than bottle it. That decision has enabled easier transportation of the beers brewed by former Tooborac and Rogue Wave brewer Chris Haren to nearby stockists, and encouraged visitors to pick up an easy six pack to take with them on mountain bike rides or up to the ski slopes.
In the tap room, cozy couches, tables, a fireplace and a mezzanine overlooking the brewhouse all come together to create a ski clubhouse effect, one where mates can settle in for a couple of beers after a hard day on the slopes.
With toasties and bar snacks available at all times, and plenty of space to gather for a few yarns with your fellow snow loving buddies, it’s easy to feel like Blizzard has been part of the Dinner Plain community all along. And, with far more ski slopes waiting to have a beer named after them, there's sure to be fresh inspiration for new beers just as often as there's fresh powder on the hills behind.