Hargreaves Hill Brewing Company
25 Bell St, Yarra Glen
03 9730 1905
Classical Pianist and Opera Singer aren’t the titles you’d expect to read on a brewer’s resume. However, Simon Walkenhorst and Beth Williams are known for doing the unexpected.
The daring duo founded Hargreaves Hill Brewing Company in 2004. Inspired by the meaningful beer experiences they’d had in Germany and England, they returned home looking to create more diversity within the Australian market.
Putting their passion for music on the backburner, Simon and Beth began to research and understand the simple but ancient process of brewing beer. They created their very first 400L batch in a little green shed on Hargreaves Road, just below Hargreaves Hill, completing every stage of brewing and packaging by hand.
Soon, their first two products – pale ale and porter – were out in the market, attracting a curious and dedicated audience. In 2007 they established a Cellar Door and Restaurant in nearby Yarra Glen and extended the range to include the Extra Special Bi er (ESB) and Abbey Dubbel (AD).
However, nature had other plans. The 2009 Black Saturday fires destroyed the brewery, along with a large part of Steels Creek. With the support of many in the brewing industry, Simon and Beth were able to forge on, opening a new brewing site just five months later. This unintentional upgrade saw them consolidate packaging and brewing facilities and allowed the team to start distributing nationally.
You’ll find Kai Dambergs somewhere on the Lilydale site, overseeing the process as Head Brewer. Arriving on Hargreaves’ doorstep two years ago, he brought with him extensive experience with industry leaders such as Little Creatures in Fremantle and White Rabbit in Healesville, and poured it straight into each keg and bottle, treating every drop with the same care and love.
There may be a science and art to brewing beer, but Kai likes to start by thinking about the end product – what people would like in the glass – and then work backwards. The expert brewing team constantly researches different styles, and when possible, trades tips and tricks with other brewers, ensuring they stay ahead of the game.
The Hargreaves Hill core range includes ESB, Stout, Pale Ale, Golden Ale and Hefeweizen. This is complemented by a selection of one-off brews that reflect the seasonality of the region, as well as special releases such as The Phoenix, brewed on the anniversary of the brewery’s rebirth.
You can sample all these beers at the Restaurant and Ale House. Open every day, it’s the perfect place to see what Hargreaves Hill is all about, while also enjoying a delicious meal, courtesy of Head Chef, Chris Unitt, and his kitchen team. Chris champions local and seasonal produce, creating a menu that’s perfectly suited to a pint of the good stuff. Snacks include the Extra Special Bitter-battered onion rings, but if you’re really hungry, opt for the 21-day dry-aged Black Angus rib-eye; or the 4-hour slow-roasted pork belly.
Hargreaves Hill is the definition of an Australian success story. Between the bespoke beers, delicious dining and picturesque Yarra Valley location, it’s the ideal spot to while away an afternoon.