Distilleries & breweries in the Shoalhaven
The Shoalhaven region is a happy-hour haven, with a growing number of local breweries and distilleries offering visitors a refreshing taste of NSW’s South Coast.
Round up your buddies, appoint a designated driver (there are some delicious mocktails en-route, too!) and hit the road to explore buzzy beer gardens and native-inspired spirits – and find the most drinkable souvenirs to take home.
Take a tour of Tara
At Tara Distillery – a craft distiller surrounded by sheep and cattle properties near South Nowra – not only can you and your crew try a fascinating range of hand-crafted gins, whiskeys and vodkas. You can also take a fun behind-the-scenes group tour: sitting under the burnished-copper pot still (she’s called Gráinne, after the Irish goddess of the harvest), you’ll learn about Tara’s spirits, which celebrate both Irish history and fresh-foraged ingredients from around the Shoalhaven. You’ll also get an insight into the distiller’s sustainable ethos, which includes feeding the spent grain from Tara’s whiskey, poitín (Irish moonshine) and vodka mashes to local cattle.
Takeaway top pick: Snap up a bottle of the Tara Pot Still Gin – this award-winning spirit is infused with 17 botanicals including sea lettuce foraged from local beaches.
Ruffle your feathers
Nothing says “lazy weekend afternoon with mates” quite like sitting in a beer garden, cold brew in hand, sun on your back. A giant back beer garden is one of the reasons you’ll want to make a pit stop at Flamin Galah Brewing Co, located within Huskisson’s industrial brewery estate (Jervis Bay Brewin Co is around the corner), not far from the world-famous white sands of Jervis Bay. Mosey up to the bar with its galah-pink seats and peruse the selection of brews (a recent brand relaunch means the tinnies are works of art) before you head back to the beer garden or to the tables out front. The on-site food truck, The Nest, serves up shareable fare like battered-flathead tacos, vegan quesadillas and bao buns.
Takeaway top pick: Nab a few cans of the best-selling FGPA (Flamin Galah Pale Ale) featuring a laidback surfer on the tinnie; dog lovers might vote for the XPA for the hound-inspired artwork alone.
Get hyper with an espresso stout
Started by twins Simon and Joey Panucci in 2020, South Yeast Brewing – an industrial-estate microbrewery in North Nowra – pours some fascinating frothies. Past creations include a banana milkshake IPA while the current tap line-up might include Cherry Bomb sour ale. The brothers used to brew elixirs of another kind at Nowra’s hipster Hyper Hyper Coffee, so it’s no surprise they nominate their Hyper Stout – a coffee chocolate stout infused with Hyper Hyper’s European-style Blend 6 espresso – as the brew they feel best represents them and their deep connection to the community. The duo know how to bring the party vibe, too: a rotating line-up of food trucks and musicians make South Yeast a whole load of frothy fun.
Takeaway top pick: After settling on a favourite, fill a growler or squealer to take home.
Try a dash of Salt
If your fellow weekend road-trippers are as into food as they are craft brews and spirits, you’re all going to love Old Salt Distillery. Chef-owners Terry and Michelle Robinson opened the distillery in South Nowra in March 2022 pouring to the public their small-batch seltzers, beers, spirits and liqueurs. Unlike most industrial-estate brewers and distillers, their modern space features an open kitchen, wood-fired grill and a menu that hints at this couple’s fine-dining past (they both worked at Sepia in Sydney). Order a couple of plates of the barbecued corn with corn puree and lime butter while you explore the inventive drink offerings: think house-made sodas such as blackberry, ginger beer and pineapple-apple; fresh-fruit seltzers such as a strawberry and lime hard seltzer; and seasonal craft beer releases such as cherry sour and milk-chocolate stout.
Takeaway top pick: Fill a squealer with the Belgian Pale Ale, the cherry sour (made with 20kg of hand-pitted cherries) or the ginger-beer-with-a-punch.
Flirt with Danger(ous)
Tucked within the Milton Hotel is Dangerous Ales Brewery, an outfit so on-point with its tinnie artwork that some devotees have turned the illustrations into tattoos. More interested in drink than ink? Try the avant-garde Lemon, Lime and Why So Bitter? sour ale or the Backyard Pale Ale. The brewery’s inventiveness knows no limits; a previous release includes the Jam on Toast Dark, which uses a local sourdough from Lagom Bakers, and word is they’re working on an oyster stout. It’s a fabulous place to while away an afternoon with a bunch of mates: find a table on the deck to sample all that inventiveness. The food offerings also veer towards the unexpected – order a couple of plates of sardines on toast and chicken katsu to share.
Takeaway top pick: Plump for a few tins of Uncle Damo’s Oaths – a stout with chocolate and toffee notes.
Bed down by the beach
Turn your big day out into a long weekend and spend a night or two at the campground at Ingenia Holidays Merry Beach in Kioloa. The campground offers absolute beachfront caravan and camping sites – and there are cabins, too, if that’s more your crew’s style. Get out the folding chairs, point them in the direction of those views and enjoy all the extraordinary quaffs you’ve collected along the way. Just make sure you save the best for your designated driver, who’s been in responsible mode all day.
Let us do the planning for you!
Let us do the planning for you!
Want to explore the top breweries and distilleries the Shoalhaven has to offer as a day trip? Use our itinerary to map out the must-do stops (and what to drink when you get there).