Grand Ridge Brewery
Grand Ridge is one of Australia’s original craft breweries. Eric Walters kicked things off in 1989, converting the town’s butter factory into a rather sizeable operation.
Upstairs reflects a typical rural hotel. Farmers sit at the circular bar knocking back lagers and chinwagging with the staff, while the no-frills dining room is kept warm by a roaring fire.
Downstairs is where the magic happens. Head brewer Dave Breheny is a fifth-generation brewer (and the 19th brewer on his father’s side). He’s worked for Grand Ridge for more than 10 years and oversees the brand’s 15 beers.
Sustainability has always been important to Walters. The whole operation runs on solar power, and the tables in the dining room were carved from fallen trees found along the riverbank. He’s also ensured that no added chemicals, preservatives or sugars sneak into his beers and ciders – something that’s common now, but wasn’t in 1989.
Supporting local farmers is another part of Grand Ridge’s vision. The menu changes every two weeks with the availability of local produce. The team also grows its own hops out the back that are harvested on brew day, and the beef on the menu comes from the family’s own Aberdeen Angus cattle farm.
Off-shoot cider brand Twisted Sister was introduced when Walters discovered local farmers were bulldozing their apple trees because supermarkets were making cut-backs. Walters decided to save the apples by turning them into cider, and now 14 farmers grow apples and pears solely for Twisted Sister’s production.