Your guide to what’s in the glass from the people in the trade.

Dollar Bill Brewing was established in 2016, born from a passion for complex, wild and spontaneously fermented ales. After gauging the Victorian appetite for sour beer produced from Old World and natural winemaking techniques, Dollar Bill established itself on a small agricultural property near Ballarat. They’re now considered one of Victoria’s cutting-edge breweries, and have been recognised with numerous awards in their short but bright time in the brewing biz.

Here’s co-owner Fiona Nolle with everything she recommends drinking in the great state of Victoria.

The last three delicious things I drank were a glass of Kooyong Estate chardonnay at home whilst cooking lasagne last week. Before the Melbourne Royal Australian International Beer Awards I had the pleasure of indulging in a Sloe Gin Sour at the waiting room at Crown Casino. And finally, a celebratory glass of Dollar Bill’s 2023 Candy Paint this evening, just to make sure it was as good as they say it is.

When someone hands me a drinks list, I look through the beer list for a complex, well-produced sour beer, before heading to the wine section to see if I can find a classic but well-constructed oaky-buttery chardonnay to enjoy while I sip my first cocktail of the evening.

My favourite things to pour beer with at the table are Salt Kitchen bresaola, Meredith Dairy marinated goat’s cheese, Espresso BellaVitano cheese, Tuki Trout Farm’s smoked trout pâté… oh, and Ballarat’s own 1816 Bakery baguette, as it has the perfect chewiness, fluffy centre and gentle acidity and is beautifully balanced.

As far as I’m concerned, the defining place to get a drink in Victoria regionally is Winespeake in Daylesford because their selection of local producers and food pairings is flawless. In Melbourne, both Mr West and Carwyn Cellars have drink lists to drool over, and knowledgeable staff that know what I want to drink even before I do. Locally, The Mallow for its craft beer tap selection and brisket, and Midtown for a cheeky drink and a takeaway.

My favourite places to buy booze are independently owned small and passionate retailers, but also direct from producers – it really helps small operators if you are happy to order by the half-dozen.

My guilty pleasures are mezcal, and Bollinger on my birthday.

The Victorian spirit I’m loving most right now is Cedar Fox Gin. We happened upon this at a 3 Ravens event supported by rockstar mixologist Jimmy Burchett, but I can’t wait to see what Little Lon can do in Ballarat with their new distillery, which is set to open soon.

The most important change to the way we drink in Victoria in recent years has been that fact that Victorians are now embracing small independent producers who make world-class, interesting and diverse beverages, typically made with local produce. This helps to support local farmers and jobs, builds a stronger economy, and pushes the quality of what we make ever higher.

For me, the most inspiring person in the Victorian drinks world is my husband, Ed. The learning curve for me entering his world was steep; I’ve given many a person in the industry a laugh at different times when I’ve tried to explain something that Ed has previously spoken to me about. His desire to absorb every bit of knowledge, to push the boundaries of what we do, and the way he shares knowledge with people – he truly inspires me daily. I believe he is meant to do what he does.

Dollar Bill Brewing, Sign up to Dollar Bill’s subscriber club, the Rare Oak Society, for access to small-batch experimental and single-barrel creations.