Fly fishing gives you a hard earned thirst. And when my mind wanders from trout to tinnies, I know it’s time to peel off the waders, put down my rod, and head straight to the esky. For me, smashing a nice cool beer after a day on the water is almost as satisfying as landing a good fish, almost. Lager, bitter, ale, stout, porter, (insert any other styles here), I love ‘em all and will pack a selection of frothies to suit the weather and my mood.
I usually stick to drinking from a handful of Melbourne breweries I know always hit the spot. However, fly fishing is an activity that takes me to beautiful places in Victoria where there are often rad people doing hip things with hops. And this is ace because it forces me out of my drinking bubble to taste stuff and talk to folk I wouldn’t have if I’d stayed in the city. In fact, for me, fly fishing is a medium for all sorts of discoveries — nature, new friends, nice wine, crazy wildlife, survival skills, cool camping spots, happy thoughts, etc. That’s why I love it, but I digress. Back to beer. Here are my current five faves and why I think you should pack a few when you head out bush or beach. Enjoy!
I stumbled across this crew last summer when I was fly guiding and leading horse treks in the High Country. Mark Hubbard, the dude who makes this, is a craft beer nut and mountain sports fan who comes from the Rockies in America and decided to combine his passions in the alpine idyll of Dinner Plain. A stone's throw from Mount Hotham, Blizzard is Australia’s highest brewery and they certainly knows how to crank out dangerously drinkable tinnies. And on a scorcho day, this little lager is a lifesaver.
I’ve got a long-standing soft spot for this beer. I first discovered it when I was working a wine event back in 2011. It’s funny how tasting and talking about grapes gives you a real craving for beer, and this particular one was being served to weary winos like me. Served icy cold, its rich toffee character and refreshing grapefruit notes gave me the second wind I was craving. Like fly fishing, beer is a pretty blokey business so the fact that this is brewed by two cool chicks is another reason I reckon it rocks.
One of my fave local watering holes, this brewery has played host to many a happy (read drunken) evening. The beer hall is beautiful, the vibes are good, and the taps flow with some fierce froth. It’s fair to say I’m a bit of a fangirl. The only downer is that they have limited distribution so you have to buy the beer from the brewery in glass riggers. Apparently, they’re canning their beers soon — not soon enough I say! Anyway, this beer is where I go when I want big, hoppy, American pale ale flavours. And knowing that some of the sales of this beer go towards Movember and improving men’s health makes it taste even better. Nice work SG team.
I stumbled across Sweetwater Brewery when I was filming in Mount Beauty and instantly hit it off with owner and head brewer Pete. The beer taps were adorned with various mountain sports paraphernalia and I got brownie points for picking the make of fly fishing rod on the top of the pale ale. It turned out that Pete was a fellow fly fishing fanatic and the conversation flowed as freely as his beers. This stout was a standout and is destined to become an autumnal staple. Its rich, full-body, and coffee notes have got what it takes to stave off the chill of late season fishing.
I’m sucker for beautiful things. But it’s not just the label’s clean lines, cool font, classy colours, and perfectly balanced space that I love, it’s what’s inside the bottle and memories it holds too. In the case of this beer, that happens to be a magical day on the Delatite not long before my daughter was born. The weather was humid, the insects were buzzing, and the trout were breaching for well placed dry flies. I caught and released five lovely brownies. Afterwards, I sat out of my car boot sipping a Gold Ale and smiling about the future. I remember wondering whether life could get much better — it was (and still is) the taste of true happiness.