Ocean Reach Brewing

When Simon Bismire let people know about his plans to bring craft beer to one of Victoria’s most popular holiday locations, he was met with a mixed response.

A large proportion of people, both Phillip Island locals as well as frequent visitors, were thrilled. Yet he was met with some hesitancy too.

“Some people thought we were mad,” he says of those pre-launch times.

Like many holiday destinations, Phillip Island is a place where the population is in a state of flux, swelling over summer and dropping off over winter. But, since Ocean Reach Brewing opened their brewpub in Cowes towards the end of 2016, one thing has remained consistent: its popularity with locals and tourists, something Simon sees as a reminder that you should never underestimate the power of craft beer to bring people together.

His own journey to become a brewery owner started in 2011 when he first tried his hand at homebrewing in his parents’ garage. But it was while on holiday in 2015 that he and wife Alex began planning in earnest to bring local brewing to the seaside destination, ultimately naming the brewery after a local surf break.

With Simon’s father Wayne also part of the team, the initial plan was to stay small with a taphouse in Cowes where they could brew and showcase Simon’s love of everything beer. Indeed, when The Crafty Pint first visited shortly after opening, it appeared he was everything beer – brewing it on the small kit behind the bar and pouring it from the row of taps lining the way separating bar and brewery.

“Phillip Island had been screaming for something like this for a long time,” he says. “That became really clear once we started pouring beers."

The taphouse is located in Cowes’ main strip, just a short walk from the ocean, where the combination of local beer and a menu designed with beer in mind – their Food Van serves up burgers, wings and onion rings – proved a winning combination on the Island.

As demand for his beers grew, it wasn't long before the Bismires were drawing up new plans for a larger, off-site production brewery – as well as putting beer into cans and starting to distribute further afield, not something they'd envisaged prior to opening.

In 2018, they moved brewing out of the taphouse and into a warehouse on the island, before enlisting Craft Instinct – also responsible for The Crafty Pint's rebrand and subsequent design work – to design their cans. It's proved a wise move with their Tropical XPA cans landing in the top ten of the inaugural GABS Can Design Awards.

Evolution has played a big role in shaping Ocean Reach’s beers too, with Simon holding onto his roots as a homebrewer keen to experiment while balancing a core range that's an approachable mix of classic craft styles with limited releases that frequently head into hazy or sour territory – sometimes both. A pair of golds for the core range IPA and Porter show the beers aren't just pretty on the outside too.

That said, the first half of 2021 saw them focus on the pretty a little more with the launch of their Artist Series. The first two releases feature work by Joel Ebsworth which you can check out here.

The combination of a passionate family, making beer in a picturesque locale, and serving it in welcoming venue, makes you wonder why anyone would have doubted Ocean Reach’s ability to be welcomed into town. But, as Simon says, there’s a power to craft beer.

Ben Hopkins

Name
Ocean Reach Brewing
Address

47 Thompson Avenue
Cowes
VIC 3922

Phone
(03) 5952 5274
Open Hours

Wed to Fri: 4pm to 9pm
Saturday: 11.45pm to 9pm
Sunday 11.45 pm to 4pm

Current Cabal offers

Schooners For Pot Prices


This is a directory listing. To find out more, head here

Ocean Reach Brewing Regulars

Ocean Reach Pale Ale

Pale ale has come to mean many things over the past decade or so, but when the local market started moving away from those inspired by Coopers Original Pale Ale it was towards those like Little Creatures Pale, in turn inspired by Sierra Nevada's classic. And it's in that space that Ocean Reach's core range pale sits. Bordering on copper in colour, there's a solid hit of caramel malt while the hop character is of that classic US citrus and earthy pine nature. There's a pretty firm bitterness in what's… Read more
Style
Pale Ale
ABV
5.0%

Ocean Reach Lager

If you're going to bring brewing to a part of Australia where it's never existed before, you're going to want to make sure you've got beer on offer that will appeal to those who've yet to encounter craftier styles. After all, you still don't have to travel too far from the major centres to find sizeable towns and cities where even the local breweries struggle to get support from their peers in pubs and bars. Enter Ocean Reach's core range Lager: deep golden with a little haze, some honey sweetness,… Read more
Style
Lager
ABV
4.6%

Ocean Reach IPA

When the Crafty team bumped into Simon and Alex Bismire just before the 2021 Australian International Beer Awards were about to kick off, I remarked that their core range IPA had been my pick of the beers when we'd shared their entire lineup at a team tasting a week or two earlier. Two hours later, we all learned the awards judges agreed as "the pink one" became one of two Ocean Reach beers to pick up a gold medal on the night. It's an IPA that takes elements of classic US IPAs and updates… Read more
Style
IPA
ABV
6.4%
Awards

AIBA 2021 – Gold

Ocean Reach Porter

You don't see a lot of porters in Australia, or indeed anywhere, these days. Most appear as short run winter seasonals, but Ocean Reach have one in the year round lineup. And it's an approach that clearly works, allowing them to hone the beer to the point it picked up gold at the 2021 Australian International Beer Awards. There's plenty to get stuck into from the off: nutty, burnt caramel, a fruitiness that could be described as figgy or chocolate laced with berries – a slice of Black Forest gateaux… Read more
Style
Porter
ABV
5.3%
Awards

AIBA 2021 – Gold

Ocean Reach Brewing Specials

Ocean Reach Rode It Hazy

Tapped June 1, 2021
As inspirations for beers go, this is something of a longbow – the Ocean Reach team opting for a play on words to the Ginuwine track Pony plus a hop riding a pony on the labels. As they explain, it's "a subtle reminder not to take things too seriously – even when it comes to drinking beer." The beer itself is the latest in a stream of hazy IPAs and NEIPAs from the Phillip Island crew, one that puts Aussie hop Vic Secret front and centre. Looks wise, this is properly turbid peach juice… Read more
Style
Hazy IPA
ABV
7.0%

Ocean Reach Coffee & Bun

Tapped June 1, 2021
For the 2021 series of GABS festivals, Ocean Reach set out to recreate the experience of morning tea: combining elements of creamy coffee and a slice of bun in beer form. In doing so, they opted to create a white stout (a beer with the aroma and flavour characteristics of a stout but without the dark brown / black shades derived from darker malts. Instead, in went roasted coffee beans, cacao nibs and vanilla bean for the creamy coffee, with a sprinkle of cinnamon, lactose and toasted coconut bring… Read more
Style
White Stout
ABV
6.0%

Ocean Reach Artist Series: Oat Cream IPA & Sour IPA

Tapped May 7, 2021
Ocean Reach's Artist Series kicks off with this pair of IPAs that stems from when head brewer Simon Bismire first met Joel Ebsworth back in 2019 at Cottonmouth Records in Sydney. It took until 2021 for the latter's art to appear on the former's beers, bringing, among other things, a penguin manning a spaceship to the party in a manner that reminds me of the incredible underwater episode of Bojack Horseman. Oat Cream IPA comes double dry-hopped with Citra and Azacca, pale yellow and pretty darn hazy.… Read more
Style
Oat Cream IPA & Sour IPA
ABV
Both 7.2%

Ocean Reach Strawberry Gose

People's palates pick up flavours and aromas in different ways, but fruits can come across in varying manners when dropped into fermenters. With Ocean Reach's Strawberry Gose, the initial impression was of overripe watermelon rising from the hazy blush-hued liquid. Over time, the underlying bready sweetness in combination with a strawberry flavour that's almost jam like in its sweetness had us picturing scones or a Victoria sponge, albeit with a little bit of tang from the souring bacteria. James… Read more
Style
Strawberry Gose
ABV
4.6%

Ocean Reach Tropical XPA

Full disclosure: we share the same graphic designer as Ocean Reach so we may well be biased, but with their Tropical XPA it's worth mentioning the outside as well as the inside. Why? The label design made the top ten in the inaugural GABS Can Design Awards in 2020. But what of the beer lurking inside? Ours poured with a big head that soon dissipated to leave a beer with low carbonation in which a fair smorgasbord of fruits wallow: there's strawberries and red berries to taste, as well as riper, sweeter… Read more
Style
XPA
ABV
4.3%

Ocean Reach Witch Doctor NEIPA

As the years have passed since Simon and Alex poured the first beers at their Cowes brewpub, more hazy IPAs and NEIPAs have made their way into Ocean Reach cans, among them Witch Doctor. This one is tagged a NEIPA and comes with the requisite cloudiness of the style, while stewed fruits of a peach / nectarine nature contribute a soft, fruity sweetness, with a little hop grip lurking in the murk. James Smith… Read more
Style
NEIPA
ABV
6.9%

Ocean Reach Hazy Pineapple IPA

Hazy – yes, with a pale golden hue and a lingering white head. Pineapple – check, of the sweeter, stickier sort. IPA – sure, thanks to the breakfast juice like grippy hit that joins the party late on. But there's more going on with Hazy Pineapple IPA too. I picked up lemon citrus and a meringue / sponge cake like sweetness. Not that it's like a lemon meringue pie IPA, just that there's more than just pineapple at play here. James Smith… Read more
Style
Pineapple IPA
ABV
6.0%

Ocean Reach Raspberry Saison

Given some of the Crafty team tasted an array of core range and limited release beers from Ocean Reach at the same time while preparing this listing, there was a temptation to see Strawberry Gose and Raspberry Saison as something of a twin set. But, aside from the at times intense way in which those fruits come across, they're pretty darn distinct. Here, there's heaps of lolly like berries on the nose with a growing, funky, almost rubbery farmhouse underbelly. The yeast does more than that too, with… Read more
Style
Raspberry Saison
ABV
4.0%