The Snowy Mountains region has blossomed into a hub for boutique breweries, distilleries and cold climate wineries. The stunning mountain scenery and crisp, clean air mean most destinations are dedicated to outdoor socialising, and you’ll find welcome, casual hospitality wherever you go. (It does make it difficult to leave, though.)
Learn about the local inspiration behind Wildbrumby’s formidable schnapps range, or ask Liz and Bart at Dalgety Brewing Company to tell you how they came from the city to run a microbrewery in the middle of a gorgeous nowhere. It’s places like these where mountain stories are made.
Here’s our pick of the local distilleries in the area.
Wildbrumby Distillery Spend an afternoon tasting locally distilled schnapps, gin and vodka on a ridgetop on Alpine Way, just outside Jindabyne. Sidle up to a barrel and judge for yourself the merits of butterscotch over peach, or pear versus pink lady. Before long you’ll be a self-appointed schnapps aficionado. If a bit of spice is your thing, try the chilli-infused Devil’s Tongue. There are 10 flavours of schnapps to choose from, as well as three styles of gin.
Wildbrumby’s Marie Kugler says she loves watching the seasons come and go from the outside dining area. “It’s such a beautiful outlook over the raspberry fields, the kind of place where you really love coming to work,” she says. Long lunches with Austrian influences are served between 11.30am and 4.30pm (co-founder Monika Spalding is from Austria), and there’s no better place to enjoy a fresh produce platter served in the afternoon sun. You can even watch the distilling happen in front of your eyes and interrogate master distiller Sebastian Drüge.
Ask about the exclusive tasting packages, which include cocktail-making and food. And of course, you can buy some Wildbrumby bottles from the distillery door to take home with you.
Kosciuszko Brewery/Banjo Paterson Inn Known to Jindabyne locals simply as ‘the Banjo’, the Banjo Paterson Inn is a classic Australian watering hole with a great verandah overlooking Lake Jindabyne. If you’re after a party then Wednesday nights during the ski season is when the joint gets pumping, with queues of cashed-up resort workers stretching down the street. But anytime’s a good time to call in and try the Kosciuszko Pale Ale, a slightly cloudy and refreshing ale brewed onsite with Tasmanian hops and Munich malts. Clancy’s Brassiere downstairs is light-filled and quieter (the lamb shanks are the hot tip in town), while the newly opened Clancy’s Overflow just off the main bar is more casual, serving excellent value burgers and pizza. There’s a sports bar, live music and a great atmosphere.
Dalgety Brewing Company Liz Reilly and Bart Jonceski made the tree change from Wollongong 18 months ago to take over this hidden gem of a microbrewery on the Snowy River. It’s been a steep learning curve but the beer speaks for itself, with the brewery pumping out up to 1,400 litres a week of XPA, golden ale, pale ale, milk stout and a surprisingly delicious alcoholic ginger beer (if you find it too sweet, try mixing it half and half with the cider).
Liz says the secret ingredient is the Snowy River water. “Doing so many batches is hard work, but we’re loving the lifestyle out here,” she says. A small vineyard (“the coldest climate vineyard in the country”) complements the brewery. It can be difficult to believe how cold it gets when you visit Dalgety on a hot afternoon. “You can get away from everything here,” she says. “You feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere but you’re only 15 minutes off the main road.”
Tumut River Brewing Company Tim Martin and Simon Rossato are two mates who just wanted to make great beer, so they took the plunge and became what they describe as “beer activists, beer judges and most importantly quality craft beer brewers”.
There are 14 Tumut River beers on tap, and on Saturdays and Sundays you can take an interactive tour that includes tasting paddles and pizza. The Blowering Blonde is a fantastic session ale, while the Big Yin is the big daddy, a 10.5 per cent Scottish ale – “Cannae be drunk unless ye be brave of heart!” says the description on their website.
Jindabyne Brewing Company As with many microbreweries, what started as a hobby for the owners has now become a thriving business. Perched on a hill overlooking the shimmering Lake Jindabyne, this cosy and unpretentious craft brewery is worth visiting. Dubbed “the best shed in town” Jindabyne Brewing Company produces five very different beers: a pilsner, a red x ale, a veissbier, a golden ale and an ever-changing, experimental seasonal ale. The atmosphere inside is relaxing and informal, with landscape photos from local photographers helping to set the scene.
A simple but tasty menu (definitely order the skewers) keeps hunger pangs at bay while you watch the evening light over the lake. If you’re looking for somewhere to adjourn to after a hard day in the mountains, this is the place. You don’t even have to be a beer enthusiast to feel at home here. Ask Max and Karl for some brewing tips at the bar if they’re not too busy living the dream.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Destination NSW.