It goes without saying that mountain bike riding and beer go hand-in-hand. But we reckon there's still a place for a cheeky vino or even a refreshing cider after a quality day's ride. Once again we took it upon ourselves to do the hard yards on your behalf and find out where and what can be enjoyed for Five O'Clock Drinks in and around Ballarat...
321 Learmonth – Windermere Road, Learmonth
A well-loved drink of choice in Europe, cider is at last coming into its own here in Australia, and places like 321 Cider are helping lead the way.
The 1,000-tree apple orchard is owned by Marilyn and Philip, who travelled extensively and lived overseas before settling in the most beautiful little village of Learmonth, about 20-minutes’ drive from Ballarat.
The story goes that Philip was over in Ireland where he cottoned on to just how good a quality cider could be. He called Marilyn from overseas and suggested he’d come up with an idea that would satiate her green thumb, give their regional property a bit of an agricultural purpose in life, and – we’re guessing – forevermore supply the household with crisp, clean, cool beverages for 5 o’clock drinks.
Marilyn needed little encouragement and so 321 Cider was born. It’s an incredibly boutique set-up; the thousand trees (grown and maintained without chemicals) produce about 1,000 exclusive bottles of cider each year. It is very clearly all about quality over quantity at 321 Cider, which is a Royal Melbourne Fine Foods Award and Australian Cider Award winner.
Choose between the 321 Original Cider, 321 Traditional Cider and 321 Sparkling Cider, all of which are available at cellar door (the most beautifully renovated building in the main street of Learmonth). Here you’ll also find the fabulously charismatic 321 Learmonth café owned and operated by Kelly, and with a menu inspired by the abundance of fresh local harvest, including 321 Cider.
Mitchell Harris Wine Bar
38 Doveton Street, North Ballarat
What’s not to love about a place that boasts an incredibly lengthy menu of local and regional wines, and allows people to enjoy them in a rustic but very cool setting?
Mitchell Harris Wine Bar had us at hello. John and his crew let us take over the space for a morning interview, and we were so impressed we knew we had to return later that evening when things really got pumping. We love the tunes, we love the exposed brickwork, we love the painted artwork directly on the walls; we just love the vibe.
See also: Top Picks for Hungry Cyclists
It’s the kind of warehouse-style space that will keep you warm and cosy in winter whilst you cup a fine red in your hands, and cool as a cucumber in summer as you sip a crisp, chilled white. Hang around and stay for dinner, or do what we did and enjoy this as a fantastic pre-dinner drinks destination (talk about having our cake and eating it, too!).