St Andrews Beach Brewery

In a country in which craft beer continues its seemingly inexorable rise, breweries are beginning to appear in all manner of unlikely spots. While reimagining an old warehouse in an industrial corner of town still seems to be the primary mode of transformation, beer tourists can discover much else on their travels.

Among the more unlikely brewery locations is the site upon which St Andrews Beach Brewery now sits: the 38-hectare former home of one of the world’s leading thoroughbred training facilities.

Markdel, at Fingal, was operated by Australian horse racing royalty for more than a decade. Over that period, the Freedman brothers turned out a long line of champion thoroughbreds, most notably triple Melbourne Cup winner, Makybe Diva.

Eventually, the brothers decided to sell the grounds, with most of the siblings moving away from training horses altogether. Unsure what would happen to a property that enjoys almost uninterrupted views of Bass Strait, the grounds and stables lay unused for three years, waiting for a good idea to come along.

That idea came from Andrew Purchase, another man with a background in sport – in his case, building and designing golf courses – who had worked closely with the Freedmans to create Markdel. Years earlier, Andrew had been persuaded by friends to invest in a brewery, Heads Beach Brewing Company in the French beachside town of Seignosse, and had fallen in love with craft beer.

Andrew felt the 38-hectare property next to St Andrews Beach would make the perfect spot for a brewery so, along with Michael Freedman and professional jockey Tommy Berry, set out to create one.

The idea became reality just before Christmas 2017, as St Andrews Beach Brewery opened its doors to huge crowds and joined the swelling line-up of breweries that are now found on the Mornington Peninsula.

To walk into St Andrews is to walk into a beer garden designed with laid-back, lazy days in mind. Tables line the pathway and lawns leading you towards towards the bar. The beer garden’s pièce de resistance, however, is the converted horse stables on either side. Each one now houses a booth ideal for families and groups looking for a place to spend long afternoon sessions. All are named after the famed horses that once tore around the grounds.

The bar itself is a large, open space accessed via large, retractable glass doors; the space is filled with share tables and comes with an acoustic roof designed to keep things lively without filling with noise when visitor numbers swell. Peer through the large glass windows lining the back wall of the bar and on full display is the brewery’s 25 hectolitre brewhouse, allowing drinkers to see how and where their beer is made.

The beers themselves celebrate the property’s history, with names such as 6 Furlongs Pale Ale, an ode to the track’s length, and Box 54 Golden Ale, named for Makybe Diva. They were designed by master brewer Dermot O’Donnell, who brought with him more than 50 years' experience in the Australian beer industry, with day to day operations led by Matt Stitt, who joined from the Hunter Valley’s Hope Brewhouse. Most of the beer is sold through the taps a few metres away from where it's produced, with the entire core range available for takeaway in bottles too.

It’s not only a brewery, bar and beer garden housed at the ground – most of the property has been given a new lease of life. A hop farm has been planted while vast swathes of the old track now have varieties of old English cider apples and pears growing upon them, ready to swell the homegrown booze offerings in time.

There’s also a two-acre vegetable garden supplying a kitchen that produces a menu primarily designed for sharing and grazing: small plates of oysters, wings and calamari roll out of the kitchen alongside a selection of pizzas and larger items which conjure beachside dining.

The reinvention extends to most of the buildings on the site: the area behind the brewery is being converted into a tasting room for brewery tours, more stables are in line for conversion and the old feed sheds still hold grain, albeit now destined for your glass rather than a thoroughbred.

Markdel enjoyed a global reputation as one of the finest training facilities in racing and in its new guise looks set to earn a reputation as one of the finest brewery homes in Australia too, bringing the sort of experience enjoyed at Margaret River’s more flamboyant breweries to the Victorian coast.

Will Ziebell

Name
St Andrews Beach Brewery
Address

160 Sandy Road
Fingal
VIC 3939

Website
Hours

Summer: Open Daily 11am to 7pm

St Andrews Beach Brewery Regulars

St Andrews Beach Brewery Race Day Pilsner

Tapped December 20th, 2017
The second lager in the St Andrews Beach Brewery core range is one that offers a step up from the simplicity of The Strapper. Race Day is inspired by European pilsners, but comes with a New World update. Underpinning things is a relatively bold malt base – there's some toasty, biscuity character there – although it's more about the hops. A combination of Czech Saaz and a Kiwi bred offshoot of that classic hop deliver the familiar herbal and spicy Czech pilsner aromas and flavours alongside something… Read more
Style
Pilsner
ABV
5.0%

St Andrews Beach Brewery 6 Furlongs Pale Ale

Tapped December 20th, 2017
The training track at Markdel measures six furlongs and, while it's no longer alive with the sound of pounding hooves, it does live on as the name of the brewery's popular pale ale. 6 Furlongs is an American style pale ale, one that retains the bigger malt profile of some classic beers of the style rather than opting for the leaner, more stripped back approach often found with contemporary releases. This sweet caramel side of the beer, while created with specialty German malts, is reminiscent of… Read more
Style
American Pale Ale
ABV
5.2%

St Andrews Beach Brewery Box 54 Golden Ale

Tapped December 20th, 2017
Of all the boxes at the former Markdel training facility, none had quite as famous an occupant as Box 54, which housed Makybe Diva, the triple Melbourne Cup winner. Little surprise, then, that when looking to pay tribute to the venue's past life Box 54 was chosen as the title for one of the core range beers. The beer is a golden ale, but it's one a fair way removed from beers of the style that seemed ubiquitous in the local craft beer world just a few years before St Andrews Beach Brewery was even… Read more
Style
Golden Ale
ABV
4.6%

St Andrews Beach Brewery The Strapper Australian Lager

Tapped December 20th, 2017
You've opened a brewery in a popular tourist region, your venue has a large capacity, you're going to be busiest in the hottest months and you're aiming to bring in a wide spectrum of guests – families, locals and tourists as well as beer enthusiasts. In other words, it's not a bad idea to have a broad appeal lager on your lineup. Given the man designing the beers for St Andrews Beach Brewery's launch comes with more than 50 years in the Australian beer industry, it's fair to say he knows his way… Read more
Style
Australian Lager

St Andrews Beach Brewery Specials

St Andrews Beach Brewery The Apprentice Session Ale

Tapped April 6th, 2018
If you've paid a visit to St Andrews Beach Brewery since it opened at the very end of 2017, you'll be aware that it's an operation where enticing as broad a spectrum of visitors to a brewery venue unique in the world of Aussie beer is of greater import than blowing beer geeks' minds. And the first beer to hit taps at its Mornington Peninsula home after the opening quartet of pale, golden ale, lager and pilsner sticks to that ethos. It's a session ale, weighing in at just 3.5 percent ABV, that we're… Read more
Style
Session Ale
ABV
3.5%
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