March 23 will be burnt into he minds of many as the day Australia closed. The date has a particularly intense sting to it when it was supposed to be the day you opened your doors to the public for the first time too, which is what happened to Golden Hills Brewery.
Located in Diamond Creek, in Melbourne’s outer north-east, head brewer Steve Matthews says it meant they quickly had to find a new way to serve locals from their brewpub.
“Well, we were planning on getting open a heck of a lot earlier than that, but delays had happened and we were just about ready to go,” he says.
“We quickly changed tack and got all the tanks and kegs that were full of beer into cans over the next couple of weeks and we had a great response from locals.”
It was a method that worked well for the team: their makeshift bottleshop, which has since opened more fully to customers, would quickly move through whatever limited run they were brewing, be that a gose or an imperial stout.
“We were really surprised on the uptake of them,” Steve says. “But we’ve got Nillumbik Cellars a few hundred meters from us with an awesome range there, so I think people in the area are fairly well versed in craft beer and decent produce.
"So, I think we’ve already learnt that there isn’t anything we can’t do here that won’t sell reasonably well.”
The concept driving Golden Hills is thanks to Tyson and Ashleigh Chambers, with concept a fitting word considering it’s a lot more than just a brewpub. Head in at 8am and you can grab avocado and toast for breakfast; later on, you might like to grab a loaf of bread with your takeaway beers while asking what’s in the fermenters. There are also plans for a distillery, with Steve saying the support they’ve had even in this tough time shows the Diamond Creek community was ready for such a venture.
“People do want to get behind locally produced stuff, whether that’s beer, bread, coffee – the whole whack,” he says.
Many in the beer world will know Steve (pictured above) and his towering appearance; before joining Golden Hills he was head brewer at both Bridge Road and Hargreaves Hill. Since taking up the new role, he says his focus when developing Golden Hills beers has been one what he thinks makes craft brewing such a great industry, a willingness to change recipes and try new things.
At time of writing, he was using the 10-hectolitre system from Spark to fill 12 taps, with five serving tanks focused on the core range and the rest largely experimental.
“That’s why you create a tiny little brewhouse that allows you to change and evolve,” he says.
For more on the Golden Hills story, we invited them to be part of our Who Brews...? series.
Golden Hills Brewery
Who are you?
Golden Hills Brewery in Diamond Creek, which was started by Tyson and Ashleigh Chambers in the midst of a global pandemic. They have a wealth of hospitality experience, having owned and operated several cafés and venues in Melbourne – most recently, Mr Sister in Malvern, and two venues in the world’s most sustainable shopping centre, Burwood Brickworks: Norwood Café and New Northcote Tavern in Burwood.
Steve Matthews, our brewer, has over a decade experience of brewing, starting in New Zealand and spending seven years at Bridge Road Brewers in Beechworth and more recently at Hargreaves Hill.
Where do you brew?
We brew everything on site at our brewpub/café/bakery/restaurant at 25 Station St, Diamond Creek.
Why do you brew?
Tyson has been working towards owning his own brewery for almost 15 years with a passion for all things locally made and locally produced. The brewery is a part of, rather than the centre of our brewpub, matched with exceptional food and an in-house bakery.
Steve believes strongly in accessible quality. Good beers without pretension.
Was there a beer or a moment that set you on the path to becoming a brewer?
Steve: too many to mention but what jumps straight to mind is Saison dupont, Bridge Road Harvest and Allagash Brett IPA.
What’s the inspiration behind the brewery name?
The name pays homage to the mining village Diamond Creek once was and the Diamond Creek gold mine. The ‘golden’ in golden hills is symbolic of not only physical gold but the flow of beer that we are now producing in our brewery which complements the beautiful flowing hills of Nillumbik Shire.
What beer in your lineup best represents you and why?
That’s a hard one as you know. Right now I’m really enjoying our Ginger Lime Gose, I think it sits there as an easy drinking beer with a lot of elements combining well. It really harks back to that idea of ‘accessible quality’.
If anyone drops in on brew day, what are they most likely to hear blasting from the speakers?
We are a family friendly venue with an ideal to accommodate an entire community and we have a large venue with an overall experience for everyone. Lot’s of community events that will encourage a duo acoustic set that plays easy listening approachable tunes.
What beers are in your fridge right now?
Our fridge is stacked up all our current lineup of beers. We have put a lot of effort to get all our beers in cans so our loved customers can enjoy the beers during lock down and beyond.
That includes the Pale Ale, Draught, Lager, IPA, Tropical XPA, Ginger Lime Gose, Stout, Amber Ale, Blonde, Apricot Peach and our new NEIPA and Imperial Stout
Which local beers have blown your mind in recent weeks?
Steve: Never look past an MIA IPA from Bright when I see one, also love the classics from Burnley, the Helles and the Pilsner in particular.
Where can people find your beers?
Currently we haven’t really dabbled into the wholesale game. Happy just keeping every-thing fresh and brewery on site plus online via our website. That being said, the Hops and Vine in Warrandyte has been a keen supporter and you’ll find us on tap when Greasy Zoe’s in Hurstbridge re-opens.
Where do you hope your brewery will be ten years from now?
In ten years, we won’t have moved. Still living in Diamond Creek and serving our favourite beers to our loyal locals and beyond. Hopefully our brewery and kitchen will have expanded and our offering increased. We want to grow with the local community and give them everything they want in our venue
Pop in to see the Golden Hills team by heading to 25 Station Street, Diamond Creek or follow them on Facebook. You can find them and hundreds of other good beer spots across Australia by downloading the free Crafty Pint app.
Other entries in the Who Brews...? series can be found here.