Palling Bros Brewery

The regional Victorian town of Heathcote is best known – locally as well as internationally – for its bold shiraz wines, with more than 30 wineries surrounding the small town. But given the region’s paddock-to-plate philosophy, its Gold Rush era heritage, and the fact the town is little more than an hour’s drive north of Melbourne – and on the outskirts of Bendigo – it’s fertile ground for a brewery.

And so it was, in 2018, that Palling Bros Brewery brought local beer to the township of little more than 3,000 people, opening on the main street in a distinctive barn-style building with bright red double front doors destined to catch the attention of more than a few passers-by.

Named after Henry Rood Palling (aka Rood Henry), an immigrant from the city of Bristol who settled in Heathcote in 1854, you’ll spy his face making up part of the brewery’s logo. Today, he’s still regarded as an influential figure in the area, due to the instrumental role he played in establishing a rail line to Tooborac – not to mention his reputation as something of a larrikin. Historical records even show he attempted to murder a local publican; thankfully, the brewery owners of today don’t hold the same attitude towards locals with liquor licences.

Rather, Palling Bros is owned and operated by Peter and Colleen Pichut, who were keen to incorporate Heathcote’s history into their vision, given Peter had owned a house in the town for decades before opening the brewery.

Another influence on the Palling Bros Brewery story is that of Melbourne-based Stomping Ground. A significant amount of Peter’s life was spent in Collingwood, where he came to know one of Stomping Ground’s founder, Guy Greenstone. Guy gave him valuable insight into building and operating a brewery, as well as running a hospitality venue.

In a similar vein to Stomping Ground, Palling Bros’ home is a spacious, rustic beer hall. But that’s not to say it’s some sort of regional knock-off of the former’s urban brewpub concept as it has a distinct personality of its own, not least due to the way in which the team there excels in promoting the local arts and music industry.

Two stages provide space for live music, and Palling Bros regularly host poetry reading nights, while a small cottage at the site is home to the Rood Henry’s Art Space. This partnership between the brewery and Fosterville Gold Mine is a place for emerging and established artists in the area to exhibit their work. There’s even a pop-up recording studio inside.

As for the main brewery venue, there’s an indoor dining area and bar complemented by a large outdoor seating area, with an overall capacity of 200 people. There’s a playground too, making for a venue that welcomes the whole family – even the four-legged members.

The food menu mixes classic pub fare like burgers, steaks and chicken parmas with a range of tacos, including those featuring local Strathbogie goat, to ensure there’s always plenty of sharing options for visitors.

By Peter’s estimation, some 90 percent of visitors to the brewery are tourists keen to explore the region’s famous wine culture, but increasingly embracing beer. The wineries have been supportive of the brewery in their neighbourhood too: many offer Palling Bros cans at their cellar doors.

The brewhouse is a 600-litre system, which fills 12-hectolitre fermenters and a further two brite tanks of the same size, both sourced from the same supplier as Stomping Ground. For Peter, who is head brewer as well as co-founder, his favourite parts of running the business are the artisan nature of brewing and putting the beer he’s made in front of others to enjoy. As a result, the beer offering at Palling Bros is both classic in nature and broad in scope. The core range includes a pale ale, lager and golden ale to cater for more conservative tastes, while sours, imperial IPAs and even milkshake IPAs can also be seen pouring at the venue from time to time.

For dark beer lovers, there’s an oatmeal stout and a chocolate porter, and for those with an affinity for traditional styles from Europe, beers such as Helles Lager and Dunkel Weissbier will keep you sated.

Peter says he’s observed a change in beer preferences among his regulars since they first opened the doors. At the beginning, most gravitated to lager or pale ale as expected, but many now have a taste for IPAs. He believes the palate for more challenging beers was already there, drinkers just needed to be shown the way.

In 2019, the City of Greater Bendigo, of which Heathcote is part, was designated a UNESCO City of Gastronomy, a title that recognises the region’s food and beverage culture, as well as its focus on sustainability. While we can’t say Palling Bros was the operation which secured that international recognition, we can certainly say the Pichuts have integrated their brewery into the region’s food and beverage culture as well as its tourism industry, while creating another reason to spend time in Heathcote.

Daniel Ridd

Palling Bros Brewery

168 High Street
VIC 3523

0427 848 073
Open Hours

Fri to Sun: midday to 10pm

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Palling Bros Brewery Regulars

Palling Bros Pale Ale

One of a pair of workhorses for Palling Bros Brewery, this approachable pale ale offers up few challenges to anyone outside the craft beer bubble. Crisp and clear, with a slightly more prominent malt character than contemporary pale ales, it’s enough to broaden the mind of the craft curious, and even hold their hand while they dip their toe into deeper, perhaps hazy, waters. That being said, it’s equally capable of satisfying the craft beer enthusiast when the moment calls for a well made, relaxing… Read more
Pale Ale

Palling Bros Mid Strength

A low alcohol option is a must for any brewery these days. But a change to the market came around 2020 when Australia saw a rise in low and zero alcohol beers that promised to sacrifice little in the way of flavour. This was a departure from the existing crop of low-alc offerings, which were predominantly mid-strength versions of the larger breweries' own unchallenging domestic lagers. Palling Bros Mid Strength unashamedly falls into the more traditional category of lower-alc beer. Hop additions… Read more
Mid-Strength Lager

Palling Bros Lager

With a "straight up and down" lager already in the Palling Bros year-round range in the form of their mid-strength, here the brew team have pushed things a little further than they may have otherwise. Clear and golden with a fluffy white head, it’s the sort of beer you’d expect to be drinking in the beer halls which Palling Bros' own venue evokes. Presenting with a soft mouthfeel and slightly sweet, the malt is complemented by the noble hop variety Hallertau as the brewers look to keep… Read more

Palling Bros Golden Ale

Conduct quick search through the Crafty directory and you’ll find most golden ales listed with the word "retired" next to them. Two Birds launched their brand with their Golden Ale in 2011, but, sadly, it was dropped from the brewery’s core range in 2019. Bridge Road and Hargreaves Hill’s examples of the style suffered a similar fate, with Venom one of very few well-known holdouts. The approachable style has brought many a craft-curious consumer into the fold and it’s precisely… Read more
Golden Ale

Palling Bros IPA

Since its reinvention in North America towards the end of the 20th century, IPA has become arguably the most popular beer style in many of the world's craftier beer scenes. Few modern breweries are without one and some brew little else. Palling Bros Brewery’s IPA is consistent with other core beers in its stable. Approachable and flavoursome, it’s the next step for the brewery’s pale ale and lager drinkers. Suitably bitter, with tropical and citrus notes, it fits well within the core range… Read more

Palling Bros Brewery Specials

Palling Bros The Smolder, NWK & Frau Helga

Published December 23, 2022
Since opening, Palling Bros have shown a desire to experiment within a broad range of styles, but an affinity for traditional European beers is evident. Their beers don’t typically venture far from what’s expected for the given style and, with many of the brewery’s customers being relative newcomers to craft beer, the Palling Bros approach is an excellent way for people to discover classic Euro styles. Having said that, smoked beers are rare, particularly in Australia, and even rarer still… Read more
Smoked Helles, Kolsch & Vienna Lager
5.0% & 4.7% & 4.7%

Palling Bros Beeldwit Witbier

Published November 11, 2022
In Dutch folklore, Beeldwit is a white witch that watches over the souls of those who have departed this mortal coil. Occasionally that witch is seen as a malevolent force but there’s another side to Beeldwit where she acts as a guide that looks after those restless souls that wander the fields. It’s Beeldwit the shepherd that inspired Palling Bros Brewery when naming their witbier, which follows closely in the footsteps of the classics of Belgium. As such you’ll find a touch of coriander,… Read more
Belgian Witbier