Love of beer led to Tooborac brewery

JAMES and Valerie Carlin have been proudly brewing original blends of beer in the heart of Tooborac since 2009. The couple brought the Tooborac Hotel more than six years ago, but after a few years their long-running love for beer inspired them to build a brewery. Located at Tooborac’s old Cobb and Co stables, the brewery was fittingly built of bluestone, sandstone and granite, like the Tooborac Hotel – a structure which has been a town fixture since its opening in 1857.“We love beer and all that it represents,” James said.“Traditionally beer was always brewed locally for the community and consumed fresh. Prior to the ‘uniting of breweries’ earlier this century there were over a hundred breweries in Victoria alone.“It is great to see that there are nearing 50 breweries in Victoria today. “The majority, apart from the large ones, are Australian owned.”While the Carlins’ brewing capacity of 600 litres a day pales in comparison to fellow industry giants, the Carlins believe their brewery’s strength lies in its “quaint” size and the careful brewing process behind its label. “Our beer is produced naturally and without chemicals. Our brew cycle can take up to two weeks. The big breweries boast about being able to do it in hours... enough said.” Tooborac Hotel and Brewery produces six blends of beer; a Shearer’s Lager, Stonemason’s Pale Ale, Woodcutter’s Amber, Blacksmith’s Porter, a steam ale yet to be named and a seasonal “Brewers Own” blend. The Carlins are proud of the all natural brewing process behind the Tooborac Hotel & Brewery label.Each beer is brewed from malted barley sourced from around Australia, the majority from Ballarat. The brew process takes a full day, with fermentation taking about a week, before allowing several days to let the beer settle. “We mill the blend of grain suitable to the style, this is mashed in where we extract the sugars, colours and flavour from the grain,” James explained. “This solution, called wort, is then boiled to meld all of the flavours together.”The final ingredient in the all natural process is hops, a flower known for its diverse varieties as much as the flavours it creates. “Hops is a flower that, when added to the boiling wort, provides wonderful flavours dependant upon the hops. It is also a natural preservative,” James said.“The blend is then cooled and ready for fermentation. Yeast is added and the yeast eats the sugars and provides two by-products, CO2 and ethanol. “As this is now in solution we end up with a lovely flavoured, appropriately coloured liquid solution that is alcoholic and carbonated.” The Carlins have always had a passion for brewing regardless of their location. Before settling in Tooborac, the couple lived and worked in the Middle East, where the availability of alcohol was limited. “We had both brewed for personal consumption when living in the Middle East... in the hot climate a cold drink would quench a parched thirst.” The Carlins live with their two young children at their hotel and credit a strong unit of support for their ability to juggle family life with their multifaceted business. “We have a wonderful family based team. Whether they are directly related or not, it is very much a family,” James said.With six blends to their name, James and Valerie can tell you what qualifies as “real beer”. “Real beer by definition is... ‘an alcoholic drink made from yeast-fermented malt flavoured with hops’ as opposed to what so many people are forced by availability to ingest. “It is the sugars and flavours from milled grain, coupled with the right hops, that makes a great day an even better one.”

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