It’s been 147 years since locals first poured into Tallarook Hotel for an ice-cold beer and a delicious meal.
And while this year may have brought new owners and a fresh look inside and out, the hotel has returned to its roots when it comes to its purpose — to be a key community watering hole.
‘‘This hotel used to be at the centre of the community, but in the past 16 years that hasn’t been the case,’’ co-owner Adam Knight said.
‘‘I wanted to come into it with fresh eyes and bring back the community focus.’’
It was this dream which saw Adam approach Mitchelton Winery and Jayco caravan owner Gerry Ryan.
An Aboriginal art consultant, Adam had worked with Gerry previously, collating a commercial Aboriginal art gallery (currently the largest in Australia) for the winery.
It didn’t take much convincing for Gerry to jump on board — and suddenly the dream started becoming a reality.
As the hotel had barely been touched in almost 20 years, it was in desperate need of some tender loving care.
After gutting the entire kitchen and the bar area, a sleek new fitout took the hotel into the 21st century.
The pair then turned their attention to the backyard.
More of a forest at the time, it’s now a beautiful beer garden.
Inside, the hotel blends the distinctive aesthetics of both Gerry and Adam.
In the two fine-dining rooms, the walls are lined with stunning Aboriginal art Adam has collected throughout the years.
While the bar features Gerry’s Melbourne Cup memorabilia — he was half-owner of 2010 Melbourne Cup winner Americain and owned a share in the horses that came first and second last year.
Altogether, the finished product must have also been a winner, because 350 people rushed to the hotel on opening night.
And it’s been almost booked out every night since.
But the pair aren’t about to rest on their laurels, with dreams for the future already brewing — literally.
‘‘We’re hoping to set up a microbrewery at the hotel, which would be a major drawcard for the region,’’ Adam said.
‘‘We would also like to add a big deck to the front of the pub that people on the rail trail can ride straight onto. And we’ll include vertical racks where they can hang their bikes.
‘‘Both these should happen in a couple of months, after Christmas.’’
Tallarook Hotel offers Sunday sessions most weekends with live music in the beer garden.
The hotel also features parma night on Tuesday ($20 parma with a drink) and steak night on Wednesday ($25 with a drink).
Tables are booking fast, so for more information phone 57921743.