The end of last week was like any typical week except for the knowledge that I (Geoff) would soon be on the hunt for boutique beers up the mid coast of NSW!
After a few phone calls I had organised to see 3 different breweries:
– Steel River Brewery, Mayfield (Newcastle)
– Murrays Craft Brewing Co, Bobs Farm (Port Stephens)
– The Little Brewing Company, Port Macquarie
There was only one thing to do before setting off on the F3 heading north… a visit to the cop shop to apply for a criminal history check as part of the Beer Cartel’s liquor license application. So off I headed to Burwood police station in Sydney. After standing in line and witnessing a range of suspicious characters reporting for their daily parole check, I handed over the paper work with $52 in cash. The papers were sent off to be processed… then I hit the road up north!
Steel River Brewery
At 2pm on Thursday I met with Ian Partland of Steel River Brewery. He gave me a tour of the brewery and told me about his beers. A couple of standouts were the Virgin Blonde Organic Larger, which is Steel River’s first organic beer after gaining certification as an organic brewer. Also the Chopper Heavy, named after the infamous Chopper Read. After meeting with Ian it was time to part ways while he tended to the labeling machine for his latest brew…
Next I headed to Murrays Craft Brewing Co at Bobs Farm to meet with the brewers that make “ales with attitude”. I was instantly treated to a private beer tasting by Tristan, starting off with the Whale Ale and finishing off with the Grand Cru. If you are in the Port Stephens area, do yourself a favour by heading to Murray’s and enticing your taste buds with their tasting platter of beers known as “Murray’s Circle of Ales”. This includes Murray’s Whale Ale, Sassy Belgian Blond, Nirvana Pale Ale, Dark Knight, Grand Cru and Icon 2IPA.
After the great beer tasting session and a quick brewery tour, I had a good chat with Head Brewer Shawn Sherlock. Shawn gave me a thorough run down on the Murray’s brewing process. Then once more it was time to get in the Nissan Pulsar and trek the last 3 hours north to Port Macquarie…
The Little Brewing Company
Following a stay over with relatives in Port Macquarie, a visit to The Little Brewing Company was on the agenda. A quick phone call to Kylie Little and it was organised! With a short drive to Uralla Road I was at the cellar doorstep where the brewing of a new beer was in full swing…. unfortunately I can’t reveal what they were crafting!
Hoping to get just a bit of Kylie’s time, I enjoyed a couple hours conversing with her and her customers, learning about their range of boutique beers which the Little’s are truly passionate about. With a university degree in wine science and previous wine laboratory experience, Warwick has honed his brewing skills with nothing but perfection in his sights.
While there I tried 4 classy beers: the Wicked Elf Pilsner, Pale Ale, Elf Witbier and Mad Abbot. My pick of the bunch was the Witbier which I think is a good conversion beer for those that are adamantly ‘lager only’ drinkers.
Unfortunately like all good things, my trip had to come to an end. Stay tuned for more news of our travels and Beer Cartel developments!
Geoff and Richard