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Beer & bicycles: cycling the High Country Brewery Trail

Alia Parker's picture
Cycling along the Murray to the Mountains Rail Trail. Cycle Traveller

If cyclists could live on coffee and beer I'm sure we would surely try. There's something about a brewed beverage that rests so intrinsically well with the classic beauty of a bicycle. A pre-ride caffeine hit, a soul soothing ride through the country, a mid-morning coffee break, and a post-ride recovery drink of hops and barley.

Given cycling is such thirsty work, it didn't take long for four Victorian craft brewers in league with the local tourism office to tap into the action. Dotted throughout the scenic highlands of the state's northeast and located along the 100km Murray to the Mountains Rail Trail, the High Country Brewery Trail was born.

Whatever type of cycling you're into, Victoria's high country has something to offer, with the rail trail, scenic roads and great mountain bike trails all on the doorstep of some fabulous craft breweries.

Black Dog Brewery, Glenrowan. Cycle Traveller

Black Dog Brewery, Glenrowan

Located in Glenrowan (yes, THE Glenrowan where Ned Kelly was captured), this craft brewer gets double points for being located at the Taminick Cellars winery. They craft their beers using traditional techniques, premium malted barley, hops and yeast strains combined with pure water from the Warby Range. They keep the good stuff in and the preservatives out.

Bridge Road Brewers, Beechworth

Forget the countless awards this brew house has under its belt – it has a pizza kitchen. 'Nuff said. But seriously, this little brewer, located in an historic coach house, is recognised as one of the best in the land. Incorporating techniques learned in the brew housed of Austria, this place has a beer to suit every taste. It's also got a great access to nearby mountain bike trails.

Bright Brewery, Bright

Set among the rolling hills, this brewery is all about chilling out. It's also a great place to start your trip on the High Country Brewery Trail. Get out in the beer garden in summer or, in winter, plonk yourself in front of the open fire in winter with a house brewed beer, cider, local wine of fairtrade coffee. Make sure to take a look at how the beers are brewed.

Sweetwater Brewing Company, Mount Beauty

This brewery has views of Mount Bogong – the tallest mountain in Victoria – and is nestled close to the Kiewa River (that is, sweet water in the local indigenous language), making it an idyllic place to either start or finish your journey. Tapping into the mountain waters to bring out the hops, barley and yeast flavours of the beer, adds a classic Australian taste.

Cycling to Taminick and Black Dog Brewery. Cycle TravellerCycling

The northeast high country region of Victoria is a brilliant spot for recreational rail trail riding, road riding, as well as mountain bike shredding. For the day cruisers, the trail is not so much a path that you follow from end to end, but a collection of things to see and do accessible from the Murray to the Mountains Rail Trail. The rail trail does not run right to the doorsteps of the places you will be visiting, so in many cases you will need to take to the road to access these stops. The rail trail has about 100km of safe off-road riding stretching between Bright and Wangaratta, with an extension up to Beechworth. You can tailor your trip to your time and budget, spending a single day or even weeks in the region.

There is also some great road cycling through this region, with scenic runs through national parks and great coffee stops in Wangaratta. The road down to Taminick and Black Dog Brewery is rather nice.

For the mountain bikers, this corner of northeast Victoria offers up some excellent single track rides. Take your pick from the trails around Mt Buller, Falls Creek, Beechworth, Bright and Mount Beauty. Here are the brewers' favourite trails:

  • James Booth, Black Dog Brewery: Booth Track, Warby Ovens National Park.
  • Pete Hull, Sweetwater Brewing Company: The Survey Track, Mount Beauty.
  • Scott Brandon, Bright Brewery: The Roger Packham single track.
  • Ben Kraus, Bridge Road Brewery: Beechworth Mountain Bike Park.

More information

Images: 1. Cycling with hired bicycles on the Murray to the Mountains Rail Trail. 2. Drinking at Black Dog Brewery. 3. Cycling the road to Taminick.

Comments

Danny's picture

Can you stay at these places? I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be able to ride back after cracking open a few. haha

Alia Parker's picture

Thanks for your question Danny. It doesn't look like there's any accommodation at the breweries themselves, but there are places nearby, especially in Beechworth and Bright. Check out this link on the Murray to the Mountains website for a list of all the accommodation options in the region: http://www.murraytomountains.com.au/accommodation/

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