Brewery Visit – Forrest Brewing Company

Half finished beer and the Frog in a Pond - Brilliant.

I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions, but there was some discussion between myself and Jord on NYE about what our resolution(s) should be. Now where most people would have gone with lose weight/stop smoking/take an art class/see Paris, we went with a far more down to earth approach.
Visit more microbreweries. Well actually our first resolution was ‘visit every microbrewery in Victoria’, but then after I started naming them we realised that we would need to be permanently drunk for the next 12 months if we did that so we scaled it back to this; 12 microbreweries in 12 months (nominally one a month).
Where possible I’m planning to make these coincide with trips we are already going on (I’m looking at you Byron Bay Brewing, Moo Brew in Hobart and Mildura Brewery) and the first cab off the rank was no different.  
Now if you are stalking me, you’ll know that every year I go to Kennet River. Unfortunately Kennet River doesn’t have a brewery (although myself and Chris did discuss the possibly of opening one in one of our more unrealistic moments of the weekend) but just up the road from Kennet River is the world renowned beer mecca of Forrest. By up the road I mean about 50km away (that is close once you are in the country) and by world renowned beer mecca I mean place with a population of 170 people and one brewery.  
With said local population of just 170 people, one must assume that the vast majority of the customers are driving  in and out of this place (on some challenging roads) so it’s perhaps not surprising that the beer line-up is devoid of 9% IPA monsters and tends more towards the sessionable brews, including a non-beer wanker friendly mid strength.
The brewery is worth visiting though. It’s a cavernous old general store that has been converted, out one side in the glorious sun is a makeshift beer garden, in the main room is a series of long tables and down the back is a pair of comfy couches, a big open fire and a window looking into the brew room, and this is where we settled in.
We were nominally there for lunch, even though it was only three hours since we cooked up bacon and eggs on the barbie for breakfast. I have to say the size of the meals were daunting, but it was so good that it all got finished. Chris even described his steak sandwich as ‘nothing short of amazing’ and Chris is a man who knows a thing or two about dead cows. 
My highlight was actually dessert – Frog in a Pond. Is there any better dessert than the classic chocolate frog in jelly? I’m sure it was meant to be for kids but that wasn’t going to stop me, I even beer matched it to the Pale Ale (it didn’t really work, but what the hell). 
 But let’s get to the important bit, the beers. There are just four beers in the range and they are:
Silvertop: The absolute stand-out for me. It’s a seriously attractive beer, the striking feature is the fluffy white creamy head, which was not unlike the fluffy white clouds that we drove through as we crossed the Otways on the way to the brewery. This isn’t a game changer, rather it is a great solid summer quaffer. I liked it so much I bought a couple of 500ml bottles to take home with me.  Pint
Red Irish Ale:  The mid strength beer, and it tasted like one, which is to say it was a little thin in the body.  It was a good mid strength offering, refreshing, with a slight hint of resinous hops, not really one for me, but definitely one for the drivers – Schooner.
Oatmeal Stout: now this was the one that I’d had at the Microbrewers Showcase which is how I found out about Forrest Brewing. I wasn’t that impressed with it then and this ‘at the source’ tasting didn’t really help. It’s a weird beer, it has the flavours you would expect from a stout, roasted nutty flavours to be exact, but then it lacked body, particularly for an oatmeal stout (in which a silky full body should be signature). As I say I couldn’t really work this beer out, I wanted more, but maybe that’s just me. Schooner.
Pale Ale: Every brewery has a pale ale nowadays and this is a worthy contender, there is a good nose of hops, without any standout ‘oh that’s cascade hops or that’s galaxy’ character. It’s certainly at the entry level of pale ales, but it does enough to keep you satisfied, leaving a lingering bitterness in the cheeks. Pint.
So if you find yourself in the Otways, it’s worth making a detour (or a stop if you are heading to the Otway Fly as you are going to have to drive right past it) in Forrest and trying a couple of their brews, and take my advice, get the frog in the pond – best $2.50 you’ll ever spend.

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