What once was relatively under-the-radar brewery in a sleepy town away from the bustle of the Great Ocean Road, is these days reliably packed with people and their four-legged friends – even in winter.

Siblings Matt and Sharon Bradshaw opened Forrest Brewing Company in 2010, in a century-old former general store. The little 600-litre brewery has long lured keen mountain bikers for a post-shred cold one (the town has 65 kilometres of mountain-bike trails).

The brewery works closely with other makers and producers on the Otway Harvest Trail, with sourdough from La Madre, eggs from Moorpark Farm, and potatoes from Otway Gold all appearing on the menu. The food is skewed towards mountain bikers, with healthy snacks and energy slices, as well as generous meals that either feature beer, or are designed to be enjoyed with a glass of it. The Bradshaws even raise their own beef for the burger – the cows are fed with spent grain from the brewery.

Beyond the core range of a pale ale, lager, stout and Irish red, there are popular seasonal brews such as a double IPA and an imperial stout, as well as smaller batches of experimental brews available on-site only. The beers are predominantly malt-focused rather than hop-driven. The exception is a wet-hopped seasonal lager called Sticky Fingers, made with locally grown hops – the region was once a powerhouse that supplied Ballarat’s beer industry. Everything is brewed on-site with pristine water from the West Barwon Reservoir, then hand-bottled and labelled.

In summer, take a seat outside at the tree stump tables to watch the sun set over the bike trails below. In winter, the heaters come out to take the edge off the mountain chill. Otherwise, retreat to the cabin-like dining room with its wood-panelled walls and cosy atmosphere.

If you’re not a beer enthusiast, local wines from Dinny Goonan Wines, Brown Magpie Wines, Heroes Vineyard, Babenorek Estate and Blakes Estate are available too. And keep an eye out for the hop-infused schnapps, a collaboration with Colac Distillery.

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Updated: August 11th, 2021

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