Two weeks ago, prior to being struck down with swine flu, I was lucky enough to have a short trip with my girlfriend to Sunny Queensland. We flew to the Gold Coast for a bit of R and R, and to warm up from the Sydney winter. It was a great trip with some incredible weather and even a bit of sunburn thrown in!
But it was not all fun and games, I had some work to do – aka beers to taste! Staying at Burleigh Heads, the first brewery to visit was the Burleigh Brewing Company. After catching the local bus and using a sketched map courtesy of Google, we found the brewery located in the local industrial area. It was a great setup with a tasting bar and some large wooden tables for enjoying a beer or two. The company is owned and run by American Brewer Brennan Fielding and his wife Peta. The beers include the Duke range, made specifically for the local Gold Coast market, and a couple of beers which are sold nationally. This includes ‘The Hef’, a Hefeweizen with amazing banana notes, and the ‘Big Head’, Australia’s first no carb beer (it is also thought to be one of only two in the world – though apparently the other doesn’t taste quite as good!). The Hef was a real standout for both myself and my beer convert girlfriend, who found it quite chick friendly. It is one we will definitely be enjoying again in the future.
A couple of days later we tore off in our little hire car to Mt. Tamborine, a tourist spot located 40 minutes inland from Surfers Paradise. The area sits within a rainforest and is well worth a visit, with some interesting tourist shops including a German Cuckoo Clock shop. But we weren’t there for the clocks, so we made a beeline to the MT Tamborine Brewery. Having only been in operation since November 2008 it is easy to see why the site (which includes brewery, cheese factory, restaurant and Lotus racing car) is fast becoming a tourist favourite. Here we enjoyed a tasting tray of five different beers with the Black Cockatoo Porter my personal favourite.
Having nicely soaked our souls we then moved on to the other brewery in the area just two minutes down the road – the Eagle Heights Brewery. Unfortunately the brewery was closed, so another visit will need to be paid to Mt. Tamborine in the future!
The following day a trip across the border to New South Wales was on the cards to check out the tourist mecca that is Byron Bay. We had another gorgeous day with the coastline looking spectacular along the way. In Byron we tried to visit the Byron Bay Brewery however we found a dry tap here as well, as this is still under development. The next stop was the Byron Bay industrial area. Aside from being the home to many different surfboard designers it is also home to Stone and Wood Brewing. We met with brewer Brad Rogers and were shown the brewery, including a very nice looking bottling machine. Stone and Wood are another very new brewery having also only been in operation since November 2008. It has two beers and uses a very simple strategy: the Pale Lager is bottled and the Draught Ale is kegged. With a couple of samples of the very nice tasting Pale Lager under my arm we then zipped back to the Gold Coast airport for our flight back to Sydney. It was a great trip with some very enjoyable and highly recommended breweries visited!
Richard and Geoff