In its original 1887 incarnation, Apollo Bay’s Ballarat Hotel housed a butcher, bakery and general store, and the beers came from Ballarat Brewery (hence the name). Today, the old brick facade remains, but the brews are local – from Prickly Moses at Barongarook, an hour’s drive inland.

If you’ve arrived specifically for the craft beer, head to the tasting room behind the brewhouse. Here, you can sample a paddle of Prickly Moses beers or a line-up of regional wines. The staff can talk you through brewery’s processes, including how they use rainwater from the Otways and that the spent grain becomes fodder for local farms. The general store legacy is upheld with local cheeses, honey, jams and cured meats ready to stock your pantry.

Back in the taphouse, there are 13 Prickly Moses beers and two of sister company Forbidden Fruit’s ciders on tap, plus 100 other beers in cans and bottles. The tap brews range from light summery ales and pilsner to a full-bodied stout, blueberry Hefeweizen and a chardonnay-tinted IPA.

To eat there are classics such as schnitzels, parmas, fish and chips, steaks, and burgers, and there’s beef pad Thai and vegan dal. On the fancy side, there’s vegan tempura vegetables with ponzu; Otway-made spaghetti with fresh local seafood; and Great Ocean Ducks duck leg confit with pickled beets and Apollo Bay gin.

There are eight rooms upstairs if you’re looking for a short stroll home. Dogs are welcome on the deck and in the tasting room.

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Updated: August 31st, 2021

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