Saturday, 13 June 2020

MILDURA BREWERY

2019: The Year of Local

STATS
  • Brewery Type: Physical
  • Region: Sunraysia
  • Tasting Room: 20 Langtree Avenue, Mildura
  • Food: Pub Food
  • Price: Average
  • Websitehttp://www.mildurabrewery.com.au/
Don Carrazza founded the Mildura Brewery in the town's old Astor Theatre in 2004, 15 years after he'd first bought the building. Don's history with the building dates back to the 1950's when he began working as a porter in the adjoining Grand Hotel. He teamed up with his daughter, Donata, & her husband Stefano de Pieri (the famous Italian chef) to turn the Mildura brewery into a fabulous destination brewery.

In some ways the brewery was a victim of their own success. Stefano & Donata took full control of the brewery in 2012 & his approach to beer & food pairing greatly advanced the discussion of the issue in this country, leading to high demand for their beers. The beers were available in the big houses from my earliest memories of buying beer. This demand led to a reduced ability to experiment, something that became more & more important as the industry evolved. This was somewhat improved in 2013 with the addition of some smaller 1200L fermenters.

Despite their best efforts the brewery was unable to stay relevant to the drinker at the cutting edge of craft beer. They still produced really good beer, they were just overtaken as breweries exploded closer to Melbourne. On February 2nd 2017 it was announced that Stefano & Donata were selling the brewery to Broo. It was understood that they were only interesting in selling to someone who valued quality as much as they did & that the Mildura brand would continue.

Some of that has proved true, the Mildura brand has continued - although there has been an obvious drop off in the quality of the beer. The quality of the food has also dropped off remarkably; although they have still been able to attract people with very cheap specials nights. The staff on the day I visited didn't seem to care & I've heard similar reports from family who live in the area. It's a bit of a shame that they're dragging this iconic Victorian craft brewery down with them.

The venue is still very nice. It's housed in this wonderful Art Deco building that they've retained a number of its original features. Gone are the table cloths from the previous regime, however there's still a mix of tables of different heights & sizes scattered in front of the glass wall that separates the public from the stainless steel.

I had a pint of their Birthday XPA when I visited, in part because I'm very familiar with their old range & wanted to see if the new brewer could come up with a recipe of his own. I'm pleased to report that it's solid beer. It's clearly taking a leaf from the Balter playbook; a light malt bill, fruity hops & just enough bitterness.

Remember it's always Beer O'Clock somewhere in the world!

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