A RICH brewing history, a plethora of brew food options, and its very own beer trail - it's no wonder Ballarat is emerging as the craft beer capital of Victoria.
Last month, the state government announced the building of the $500,000 Craft Beer Centre of Excellence in Ballarat, further solidifying the city's position as a craft beer destination.
Here are five reasons why Ballarat is becoming a hub for craft beer, according to the city's local brewers.
1. A craft beer trail
Ballarat is made up of four major breweries - O'Brien + Rebellion, Athletic Club, Red Duck and Cubby Haus. It's no wonder that owner of Red Duck Brewery Scott Wilson-Browne decided to create a beer trail and showcase the local craft beer offering to the masses.
"We have a fantastic offering with our beer trail. Four unique breweries all with different beers and personalities," Scott says.
"I have wanted to create the Beer Trail since we moved here, but tour operators quite fairly suggested that they needed at least three breweries to make a day of it. Now we can really get the message out.
"As a group of breweries we are all very passionate about being in Ballarat. We want to continue the initial successes and keep growing and keep making jobs for locals. And of course, walk in to any place in Ballarat and be able to get an icy cold locally-brewed frothy!"
2. Brew Food
What's a good ale without some equally warming eats? As well as the breweries, Ballarat is filled with a plethora of scrumptious brew-food options - think juicy ribs, delectable pizzas, slow-cooked briskets and deep-fried poppers. Traditional gastro pub The Mallow has a menu worth writing home about (and some awesome local beers on-tap), while the much-loved Hop Temple is known for its bits and bites.
Then there's the Athletic Club Brewery itself, which houses its own bar featuring mouth-watering brew food and rounding off one's entire craft beer experience.
"The local venues that are part of the beer trail offer fantastic beers, hospitality and beer-friendly food," Scott says.
3. Educational opportunities
With the upcoming Craft Beer Centre of Excellence as well as a dedicated craft-beer course at Federation University, Ballarat is well-serviced in the education field.
Owner of Athletic Club Brewery Peter Parry says there is an array of opportunities that provide craft-brewing experiences for beginners, amateurs and professionals.
"The Fed Uni courses offered can cater for the commencing craft brewer - an excellent educational entry into craft brewing and brewing in general," Peter says.
"The Diploma and Degree courses are more focused and aligned to the experienced craft brewer and the career large-brewery brewer. This is available to all and already we are seeing participation from not only novice brewers but well-experienced home brewers using.
"Then there's our brewery which is the only brewery in the area that offers an access brewing experience for the general public or novice."
4. Ease of travel
"We are only just over an hour from Melbourne city, so easy to get to," Scott says. "Ballarat is easy to ride a bike around, all taxis trips are short and low cost, buses run on time and all over Ballarat, there are walking trails, and a totally safe environment."
Peter agrees that ease of travel makes a huge difference to the whole beer experience.
"Ballarat's central location, well-serviced by public transport an hour-and-a-half from Melbourne provides the ideal setting to have a craft beer focus within its hospitality and tourism industries. The strong brewing history dating from the gold rush days through to modern day, highlights Ballarat's position as one of the pre-eminent brewing locations within Victoria."
5. A rich history
"The history books tell us that Ballarat had hundreds of pubs and grog shops, well known bigger breweries that had international recognition," Scott says.
"Almost every second pub would have brewed their own, so it's time that Ballarat took back it’s rightful place in the beer world.
"It is possible that Ballarat will be world-famous for beer tourists from every country. Something for the locals to be mighty proud of."