Several months ago, while driving back to Canberra from Melbourne, we found a fantastic little stopover. We had considered going home via Lakes Entrance until a kind lady at the Bairnsdale Tourism Information place told us that it would be heaving and horrible on that particular weekend, and suggested we make a start up the Great Alpine Road to Bruthen and stop for lunch at the Bullant Brewery. Those are the type of suggestions we are happy to heed, and so we did.
Bullant Brewery offers tasting paddles of any four beers, so between us we sampled the seven that they had on, plus a cider. The first four - pale ale; wheat beer; pilsner and kolsch - were all pretty similar in colour but distinctly different in taste. The folk at the brewery like to claim their beers are full-flavoured yet highly drinkable and their slogan is 'beer with bite'.
The Mossiface Pale Ale (all their beers are named after locations on the Great Alpine Road) at 4.8% is an interesting blend of hop (American Cascade and Pride of Ringwood), malt (Pilsner and Munich) and yeast flavours. The result is a great balanced beer as each element adds up to more than the sum of its parts.
|Him Outdoors with a Mossiface|
Kolsh is not usually my favourite style, and yet their Summer Kolsch (4.7%) was one of my beers of choice from their brewery with subtle fruit flavours, and Pearl and Hellertaur hops to provide a crisp finish. This is a seasonal brew so will only be available during summer, which is when you most want the dry, refreshing style.
Moving to the dark side, the Double Bridges IPA (5.8%) was also splendid, with an intense hop aroma to match the zesty hop flavour and the dry hop finish. Did I mention it was hoppy? I was not as impressed with the Pig and Whistle Brown Ale (4,7%), although I'm not generally a huge fan of this style anyway. It is deep copper in hue with a mere hint of hops against the mass of malt. The accompanying notes state it is a 'typical English style' and I'm sure they know what they're talking about, but I don't remember tasting beers like this back home.
The Piano Bridge Stout (6.7%) is delightfully chewy and malty with all the liquorice, caramel, chocolatey goodness associated with this variety. The name is taken from an old bridge that crossed the creek 27km north of Bruthen. When a coach passed across it, the panels apparently bounced up and down like the keys on a piano, or like Him Outdoors did when he tasted this stout. The tasting platter was rounded out with Kelly Brothers Cider, of which I can't really say much except it tasted alright and is apparently gluten-free.
The food menu is extensive and we chose wisely, with beef fajitas for him, and a Moroccan chicken stack for me. The menu is seasonal and alters along with the beers, so it is constantly changing and I'm sure always worth sampling.
The setting out on the deck was very pleasant, and it is covered so even though we experienced rare summer rain, we were comfortably sheltered. It was a very busy public holiday, but the service was still relaxed, we weren't made to feel rushed or like an inconvenience (despite turning up without a booking) and there was no surcharge. I would definitely recommend this as a place to visit, and they have live music sessions on Sundays in summer; there could be few better ways to spend a sunny summer Sunday afternoon.