Craft breweries take over the ski-fields

Now you don't have to go too far off-piste to find a decent beer. In welcome news for skiers and snowboarders, three new breweries have opened during the off-season in close proximity to Australia's snowfields.

Blizzard Brewing Company in Dinner Plain, Victoria, is just 50 metres from the Cobungra ski lift, and 10 kilometres from Mount Hotham.

At 1550 metres above sea level, founder Mark Hubbard boasts Blizzard is Australia's highest altitude brewery, and the only one located above the snow line.

"I grew up in Colorado and now when I go back to ski regularly, there's very few ski resorts in the Rocky Mountains that don't have a brewery, and some have several," he says.

"I thought, that's what I could bring to the Australian alpine experience."

Bandit brews

Over in Mansfield in the foothills of the Victorian Alps, Jeff and Jeanette Whyte have opened Social Bandit Brewing Company, en route to Mount Buller for Melburnians.

After only six months in operation, their beers received a vote of confidence at the Australian International Beer Awards in May, when the Hefeweizen, Pale Ale and Brown Ale all picked up bronze medals.

Social Bandit is currently brewing a special beer in honour of the upcoming Buller X extreme skiing event, to be contested by Australia's top skiers in Mount Buller's most treacherous terrain.

Snow beers

Meanwhile, New South Wales' Snowy Mountains are not to be outdone by the action south of the border.

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After beginning production late last year, Jindabyne Brewing founder Karl Veiss has been working around the clock on his small brewing system to ensure consistent supply of his beers to local venues.

"I've been a ski instructor since I finished high school and that allowed me to travel the world and taste plenty of good beers, so that's how I got into brewing," he says.

Jindabyne was already home to Kosciuszko Brewing Company, which started out as something of a passion project for legendary brewer Chuck Hahn at the Banjo Paterson Inn.

"Back in 2009, we were the first brewery to be located up in the mountains near the ski fields," Hahn says. "Having spent many years in Colorado before arriving in Australia, it was only logical that I start a brewery up in the mountains… it gives me a good excuse to go down to the Snowies and ski and fish!"

Bright future

Another alpine mainstay, Victoria's Bright Brewery, has recently celebrated 10 years of brewing in its namesake town, which is accessible to the ski resorts of Mount Buffalo, Mount Hotham and Falls Creek.

Bright has since been joined in the general vicinity by Sweetwater Brewing Company in Mount Beauty, with Mitta Mitta Brewing Company in the pipeline to open nearby, sometime in 2017.

Far from feeling threatened by the new entrants, Bright Brewery founder Scott Brandon is pleased that the microbrewing revolution has finally arrived in the region.

"A hundred years ago, every town had its own brewery, and we're heading back to that," he says. "I think it's going to be fantastic."

Scroll through the gallery at the top to see the tastiest beers from the summit.