“Sometimes you want to mark a grand achievement with a solid celebration. It could be running around the field with your jersey pulled over your head, inviting your friends over to share the love, or relishing the resounding smack of a perfectly connected high five. Balter’s IIPA is another one of those triumphant tips of the hat to well-earned success. Bursting with hops, strong in ABV(8.6%) and coming in a tall tin, it is large in every way.”
Glassware: IPA glass.
Appearance: Reasonably clear bright amber complexion. Nice and big two and a half finger head that persists and decorates the glass as we imbibe.
Aroma: Holy moly this is good! Tonnes of clean and crisp pine needle, grapefruit, peach, mango, melon, blackberry, passion fruit, lychee…the list could go on. But it’s this muscly and sweet caramel malt base that puts the icing on the cake. Sensational.
Flavour: Just a tidal wave of mixed citrus, tropical fruits and stonefruit to the fore. Bit of a clean pine needle thing going on as well. Like the nose it has that lovely caramel malt backing that flows in to the finish along with a fiery warmth in the tail.
Mouthfeel: Really well rounded. The 8.6% ABV definitely ain’t trying to hide. Kind of sticky and gelatinous texture with an extremely well hidden 105 IBU. Medium body and co2.
Overall: Absolutely superb! Would have loved to see them pull the booze back in line with the IBU. If they did that it’d be a straight 10/10. Without a doubt.
“It’s an Australian Lager but it’s not. It’s a Steam Ale but it’s not. It’s a hop bomb but it’s not. It’s a session beer and a geek fest at the same time. It’s simple, really, but it’s complex. Have we bastardised an Australian tradition? Have we sold out the Craft fraternity? Have we conflated a cultural icon with a computer icon? Have we over-thought this? Yes. Yes we have.”
Glassware: Stemmed Flute.
Appearance: Clear golden amber with a solid two fingers head on top. It gradually retracts and weaves a fine lace as it subsides.
Aroma: Fresh herbal and lime citrus notes meet the olfactory’s. Grassy hops, straw, subtle honey and cereal grains, white grapes and umami crackers fill it out. Interesting nose – lots of hop character built on a sturdy grainy malt base.
Flavour: Clearly takes on more of a lager/steam ale approach. Grainy/cracker malts, a hint of honey sweetness and a touch of starchy vegetables on entry. Grassy/herbal hop notes through the middle that roll in to a somewhat dry and peppery finish. Good length.
Mouthfeel: Light on, rather fizzy and vibrant with mild-medium body. Subtle bitterness midway (35 IBU). 5% ABV keeping a low profile.
Overall: Being 80’s baby’s the kind of Atari-esque label certainly caught our eye but the beer itself didn’t really wow us a lot. Not bad, we’ll be reaching for something a little stronger of theirs next time.
As far as craft beer pioneers in Australia go, one couldn’t rattle off a list without mentioning Burleigh Brewing Company. For Peta and Brennan, what began 9’000 kilometres over the Pacific Ocean resulted in the opening of Burleigh Brewing, back in 2006 when most craft beer drinkers today were still at school. They originally set up in a nearby location but demand for their liquid gold forced them to relocate to the huge premises they are now currently at. A premises and output big enough that it wouldn’t surprise us if it notched them up in to the Regional Brewer category.
“James E. Pepper brewed an American Brown Ale and aged it in oak barrels. The Ale was aged in the same oak barrels in which James E. Pepper recently aged their 1776 Straight Rye Whiskey. The Ale is a deep, dark brown ale, that, when served, could be mistaken for a stout. The taste is sweet with coffee, vanilla and oak notes shining through. The rye comes through a bit on the finish.”
Glassware: American Pint.
Appearance: Dark brown hue with a lot of thick suspended sediment floating around. It builds a big two and a half finger head which collapsed to a collar. Laced well despite the diminishing head.
Aroma: We unreservedly love the whisky so to get strong wafts of the spicy and at times even sweet and buttery nose is so fulfilling. Behind the gorgeous whisky notes is a seriously smooth, malty and nutty affair, supported by hints of vanilla, toffee, chocolate and subtle licorice. Just a touch of oak in here too. Superb.
Flavour: Delish! Essentially what they’ve done is wrap subtle notes of the whisky up inside a malty coating of a brown ale. Sweet nutty malts on the front end with the spicy, buttery and caramel notes of the whisky through the middle. It finishes with warming booze, toffee, vanilla and woody oak tannins on the rear.
Mouthfeel: A bit of warmth from the 10% ABV. Thick and almost silky texture. Lively co2 which is quite the surprise considering the profile of the beer.
Overall: After a year and a bit in the storage unit we thought this bad boy was ready for consumption. It brings three years of age in total now and it’s done wonders. We may have to go and get ourselves a couple more!
“This IPA blends the English IPA tradition, supersized the American way with a Belgian yeast and punchy New Zealand and German hops. The blend of styles delivers a straw coloured body of lemon, lime, pepper and herbs, with a dry finish and a hint of resin. A cargo of fruit and spice – a ship in a bottle in a can.”
Glassware: IPA glass.
Appearance: Hazy amber-orange glow. The head swells to about three fingers then slowly peels back to a thick overlay. Laced well.
Aroma: Interesting to say the least. The two dominant scents would be the tangy orange citrus and earthy spice. Plenty of herbals/botanicals, mandarin, flora, lemon/lime and yeast esters – something that’s fairly rare in an IPA, although it can be said that this IPA offers quite a mixed origin of ingredients.
Flavour: Again, very interesting. Mostly citrus on the front end with a suggestion of peppery spice and herbs. Strident grapefruit acidity kicking in to hear midway and leading in to the dry, bitter and citric finish. Showing plenty of legs as well.
Mouthfeel: Quite sharp and acrid. The 6.8% ABV shows through, as does the 50 IBU’s. Medium body and co2.
Overall: This really is the ultimate global IPA. It uses English tradition, American influence, Belgian yeast, German, Japanese and NZ hops and brewed by an Australian brewery. It’s around the world in one can!
It was something that was gnawing at us for weeks but we thought we’d wait until we met the team at Black Hops to ask. We wanted to know whether the name was a clever play on words (Black Hops – Black Ops, roughly meaning a covert military operation). And for once, we were right! The funny thing is though, these 3 mates (who are all ex-military) run the brewery with the objective of being the least covert operation imaginable. Their concept is pretty basic, and that is to be “open book” – so things like recipes (well, almost the whole recipe) for their beers and where they source ingredients are all open to the public.
10 taps are on offer although on the day one had blown and we weren’t too keen on the ginger cider but that worked out well anyway as paddles have 4 tasters each. We went for the 30 Cal – a surprisingly full flavoured mid strength, the Lay Day Lager, Beach house Farmhouse Ale and the Pink Mist – a light and refreshing raspberry flavoured saison. The 2nd paddle went like this: the much coveted Pale Ale and then the three seasonals – the Amaretto Sour, the Caribbean Crusher (a rum infused IPA which was the pick of the bunch for us) and the Egg Nog Stout.
It sounds cliche but we really didn’t want to leave, it just has that super laid back atmosphere, friendly staff (shout out to Ally the barmaid – she was informative and very entertaining). But all good things must come to an end so we’re off to the next brewery!
“An amber Belgian-style Dubbel with an exuberant aroma of rum-soaked banana that gives way to brown sugar, caramel & spice. Brewed with lashings of Belgian dark candi syrup for an authentic complex taste. Serve at 8-10°C.”
Glassware: Trappist tulip.
Appearance: It pours an attractive copper red hue which dons a short beige cap. The head eventually peels off to a fine film but offers excellent lace work down the glass.
Aroma: Incredibly sweet but not cloying. Absolutely saturated in this thick, chewy caramel, toffee and butterscotch which blends with the ultra doughy and sticky raisin, date and rum notes really well. As it warms the estery characters come forward – sourdough, clove, banana etc. Undertones of plum jam, cocoa and stewed fruits. Oh my, absolutely superb!
Flavour: Good transition on to the palate. Tonnes of sticky sweetness – caramel, toffee, raisin, dates, all well supported by that doughy/bready malt. In come the subtle spices, earthy chocolate notes and stewed fruits before a big and well rounded finish with good length on the rear.
Mouthfeel: Velvety smooth (we can see where part of the name comes from). Full bodied, dense and chewy. Mild-moderate co2.
Overall: Magnificent! One of the best non-Belgian dubbels we’ve ever had the pleasure of drinking. Can not fault it.
“Beer description: Without even knowing we’ve progressed from tinned pineapple slices to canned IPA fruit bombs! Through the golden haze you’ll get hit with a creamy body, QLD pineapple and tropical hop flavours. We’ve kept the bitterness on the low side with a lasting fruit finish. Drink this fresh!”
Glassware: IPA glass.
Appearance: Slightly hazy golden amber complexion. Two fingers of puffy white foam slowly reduced to a film with a smattering of lace left in its wake.
Aroma: Pineapple in epic proportions! No word of a lie it’s literally like we’ve opened up a can of sliced pineapple. Behind the feature fruit is a subtle combination of pine, mango, peach and melon which is grounded by a subtle sweet malt at the base.
Flavour: We’re not sure how much pineapple has gone in to this but it must have been a truck load! Other tropical fruits like mango, peach and melon surround it but they taper off and leave nothing but…..pineapple!
Mouthfeel: Certainly offering a creamy texture with mild bitterness (40 IBU). Hides the 6% ABV well.
Overall: We’re always wary when it comes to these feature fruit beers because, as is the case here, the novelty wears off pretty quick and we’re left with a beer that is rather bland and one dimensional. Hey, it’s fun while it lasts.
We must admit we are Texas hold ’em tragics. Whether it be at the casino, the local pub or at home, it wouldn’t matter…we’d be there! Although this obsession was part of the reason why we wanted to visit the bigger reason was because this brewery is regarded by the locals as one of Brisbane’s bedrock institutions. In 2012 owner and head brewer Harley Goodacre managed to rustle together enough equipment and opened the brewery in Banyo, bringing his craft to a region saturated in XXXX….it’s safe to say it was a craft beer wasteland. Slowly but surely the brewery expanded to the super busy, dog friendly, spacious and well oiled operation it is today.
They offer an impressive 16 tap set up with one reserved for a guest. Their range is huge so it was straight to the paddles for us. We tried the Bill Murray (a suped up lager at 5.5% ABV), Mercenary Pale Ale, Blind Axeman Amber Ale, Clockwork Porter, Riptide Summer Ale, Dragon Pale Ale (one of their best), Summer Brown Ale and the Mutiny Red IPA which was an absolute ripper of a beer. Their range provides a good mix of approachable and the more adventurous beers which were all thoroughly enjoyable.
Another upside is its relatively close proximity to Brisbane city, via the airport link it’s only about a 20 minute drive north. Although we do suggest you grab a taxi or an uber because, let’s face it, who goes to a brewery to just have one or two?!
“Sultana of Saison is our Saison du Bateau fermented in fortified riesling barrels. The classic ester profile is complemented by delicious fruity aromas and flavours.
Unfiltered and bottle conditioned. Serve cool not cold.”
Appearance: Murky orange with a healthy two finger head atop. Good retention and lots of lace clinging to the glass.
Aroma: We’re getting slightly funky esters, floral perfumes, banana runts, tangy citrus, pear and cereal grains initially. Not detecting a great deal of the Riesling characters although there is a delicate hint of white grapes and sour apples. Fairly traditional nose here.
Flavour: Picking up more of the Riesling notes on the palate. Lots of pear/apple, peach, some banana developing later on in the piece. Quite musty as well, getting some woody spice, cereal grains and oak with herbs and tangy citrus in the finish.
Mouthfeel: The texture is mineraly and somewhat spritzy. The body sits around that medium mark with the 6.4% ABV reasonably well hidden.
Overall: Nothing overly exciting but it is a tidy little offering. Would have liked to see more of an impact from the time spent in Riesling barrels but other than that it’s a fairly decent saison.
Poured into a shaker glass we see a very light coloured/hazy yellow colour with plenty of carbonation sizzling away from the bottom. White of white 10mm head that slowly fades but retains beautifully. We note this brew was canned on the 26th February so it’s super fresh.
First sniff elicits a complex nose with plenty of stone fruit like peach, pine, rose petal, citrus like lemon and white grapefruit, peppery spice, light doughy malts and cut grass. We like it. First sip yields a similar hit. It’s got nice, not over- the- top bitterness from the citrus hops mixed with bready like dough malts/yeast, light caramels, a peppery spice, and more pine. Definite citrus flavours of white grapefruit, and lemon rind. It’s quite drying on the palate. Mouthfeel is light on..it’s not entirely watery but it’s thin enough to smash down easily, and still contains enough flavour to savour right to the end. It’s got an earthy like body to it also. We note 5% Alc vol here and think it’s jammed full of flavour. You could have a couple of cans before thinking “ok I’m feeling pissed”. Carbonation stays low also. It’s got that NEIPA feel yet it’s not as tropical fruit juice as most are. It’s like an IPA due to the array of floral and tasty hops on offer. It’s also ale-ish due to the smash ability of a 5%-er. As we finish up we get some patchy lacing here and there and are enjoying the aroma of the empty glass. This is certainly tasty. It’s a bloody good effort as usual from a fantastic and on the pulse brewery.
For Adam (head brewer and owner) brewing all began as a hobby which quickly morphed in to an obsession which in turn resulted in the opening of this literally brand spanking new brewery in North Lakes, a tick over 40 mins drive north of Brisbane city. That’s just the beginning of the story. Here we were thinking the name ‘White Brick’ just had something to do with the choice of colour for the bricks used in the building, we couldn’t have been more wrong. The proceeds from the sale of a white brick estate was the funding behind the opening, and serves as inspiration for the family run brewery. We love a small brewery, but we love a good back story to a brewery even more.
Equally as impressive is the thought and meaning behind the names of every one of the beers he brews. There are 8 beers on offer – ‘Plantation’ pale ale, ‘Brickworks’ bitter, ‘Petrie’ pilsner, ‘Rothwell’ radler, ‘Route 71’ IPA, ‘Coach Stop’ Cider, ‘Griffin’ golden ale & ‘Tripel Trouble’ Belgian tripel. To us out-of-towners they are merely catchy names but to the locals they represent local suburbs, roads, early settlers and iconic locations. Everything about this brewery represents family and local community, how can you not dig that??
The beers, the owner, the vibe, the stories, the tunes, even the complimentary popcorn! Everything about this cool little brewery has impressed us. If you’re travelling along the Bruce highway through North Lakes be sure to pop in for a visit, it’s well worth it.
The next stop on our tour brings us to 10 Toes Brewery. Set in a business park in Alexandra Headland just a few minutes drive from Mooloolaba beach. The second we walk inside we notice the relaxed and flowing industrial feel with walls adorned with surfboards, chalk boards explaining the brewing/fermentation process, and funky beach and surf-inspired artworks. The decor certainly matches their mantra with the name 10 Toes basically being a reflection of their love for a coastal lifestyle, surfing and hanging 10, “especially with the toes on the nose!”. Let’s all spare a thought for these guys…what with the brewing, surfing, drinking craft beer and hanging out. Jeez, tough life!
Their 8 tap system was pouring a mix of their core and seasonal range of beers. On the day they offered their Longboard Lager, Pipeline Pale Ale, Rye Amber Ale, Xpression Session, Ginger Beer, Saison, IPA and the Vanilla Porter. We opted for the paddle which consists of five of their beers (we went for the pale ale, rye amber, saison, IPA and the vanilla porter) all of which were incredibly easy on the palate, tasty and super sessional. The stand outs for us were the IPA and the vanilla porter.
With just the two years in operation and an approximate 3000 litre output we’re more than confident that this impressive little operation will be here next time we decide to visit the Sunny Coast!
“Dry, angry and bitter, Hornet has some serious sting with a balancing aroma of stone and citrus fruits. This modern IPA drinks with a subtle sweetness and a sturdy presence of hop bitterness.”
Glassware: IPA glass.
Appearance: Light amber with a golden tint. It forms a thumb of white foam before steadily reducing to a thin overlay. Healthy lace work as we go.
Aroma: Getting a blast of NZ hops leading out. Tonnes of mixed citrus, herbals/botanicals, honeydew, white grapes, lychee, vines and a soft floral bouquet. Kind of dry, bready malt backing albeit low-key. Some tropical fruit notes but again also quite delicate. Lovely.
Flavour: Rather gung-ho for a 6% IPA. Vigorous grapefruit acidity on the front end mellowing in to those sweeter stonefruits in the middle. Some piney hop resins developing late before a return to that big citric bitterness and a hint of warming booze in the tail.
Mouthfeel: Dry, bitter and assertive. Moderately bodied with a prickly 60 IBU. Good co2 level.
Overall: A solid overall IPA with some real bullish qualities – certainly punches above its weight. At the right price this would definitely be a return to beer.
“A redshifted IPA with malt richness in overdrive and a gang of four powerful new world hop varieties to boldly go further.”
Glassware: IPA glass.
Appearance: Rusted amber hue with a large three finger head perched on top. It slowly deconstructs and settles to a film with wet, spotty lace as it subsides.
Aroma: One word – superb! A big sweet caramel malt structure is enhanced by a sharp, piney and citrus hop profile. Really well balanced. Maybe a bit of resinous/dank character which gives rise to a bit of warming booze. Undertones of orange peel, grapefruit and unripened pineapple. Heaven!
Flavour: Maybe not as convincing as the aroma but it’s still jam packed full of sweet caramels and toffee with those piney hop notes cutting in. The booze (7.2%) is a bit more pronounced as well. Working up to a toasty, bitter and warming finish with excellent length.
Mouthfeel: Smooth and velvety but also quite spiky and piquant. Mild-moderate co2, medium body.
Overall: Decent. We can’t put it on par with Former Tenant but it’s still a brilliant red IPA. Their best beer without a doubt.
“Defined by a balance of pale malted barley and tropical hop aromas, our Pale Ale is light in colour but big in flavour. But don’t overthink it. It is what it says on the tin, a Pale Ale, the Black Hops beer for every occasion.”
Appearance: Hazy golden amber topping off with two fingers of tightly held foam. Magnificent lace work clinging to the walls of the glass.
Aroma: Lovely dose of tropical fruity hops hitting the olfactory’s. Mango, passion fruit, pineapple, lychee and melon – all of the good stuff! It almost has this NEIPA-esque brekky juice note to it. Subtle hints of white grapes, florals and biscuity malts filling it all out. Impressive.
Flavour: Really well balanced. Lots of fruity hops, a flutter of semi sweet biscuit malt, even a suggestion of that NEIPA-like brekky juice we picked up on the nose. This tasty trio is reinforced through the mid with a bit of help from a citrus bitterness which delivers a mild dryness in the finish.
Mouthfeel: A little dry but really, it’s just smooth and so approachable. Medium body and co2. Bang on.
Overall: Well there’s certainly no surprises that this pale ale made the top 20 in GABS’ most recent hottest 100. It’s tasty, brilliantly balanced and oh so sessional. Our 2nd entry for this relatively new QLD brewery and both have been top notch. Keep em comin!
When we were planning a trip to the Gold Coast we had a few obvious breweries in mind. It was only after a bit of online research that we uncovered a litany of breweries north of Brisbane that have mostly gone unnoticed. The biggest surprise were the 3 breweries that have all opened recently in the sleepy beach side city of the Sunshine Coast. The aptly named Sunshine Brewery was the first stop for us. Its industrial location comes equipped with a small yet neat little relaxed and beachy set up, a mock-up 10 tap system and even a play area for the kiddies!
We went for a “tasting dial” each which offered five of their ten beers. The first was their ‘Silver Fern’ – a seasonal NZ pale ale crammed full of Kiwi hops that finished slightly metallic and ultra bitter. We went on to their ‘Sunshine Saison’ which is part of their core range. Expected funky notes, mandarin, wheat, spice and bubblegum. A step up from the first beer. We went on to the ‘Noosa Ruby’, again part of the core range, lots of sweet and nutty malts, caramel, berries and syrup. Nicely balanced though. Their best beer so far. It heats up with their ‘Double Sunshine’ IPA – a core range double IPA with a strange sweetness, fruity hops, booze and honeydew. We finished on the ‘Red Velvet’ porter. Another core range beer which offers mild chili pepper notes, cherry cola and berries. Slightly medicinal with a drying finish.
While there were some good things about this brewery there were faults in some of their beers. It has only been in operation for nine months so we’re sure that after some time they will iron them out and they can reach their potential.
“Rich complex & creamy. Aged on mountains of whole vanilla beans, this seductive robust milk porter is softly carbonated and rich in characteristics of chocolate, coffee and Bourbon Oak Vanilla.”
Appearance: Dark cola pour revealing some faint mahogany edges when held to the light. Just a finger of head which vanishes almost immediately.
Aroma: Rich and complex. Really has an intense vanilla lifting out, tonnes of charred oak character, tobacco, licorice, black coffee, milk sugars, dark chocolate and toasty malt. Also getting a lovely toffee sweetness with just a hint of nutty malt. Brilliant.
Flavour: It comes on smooth and velvety with the vanilla easing and allowing all those other decadent flavours to come through. Coffee, dark chocolate, charred malt and milk sugars carry across the mid and finish with a delicate hop bitterness in the tail.
Mouthfeel: Creamy texture, smooth and velvety with lifted co2. Medium body. Hides the 5.8% ABV rather well.
Overall: A delicious and well structured beer. Full flavoured but still somewhat light and pleasant to quaff on. Solid porter.
“Our coastal twist on a classic style. Clean malt profile with a spicy alluring finish. Unfiltered for maximum flavour with a hazy golden appearance. Brewed using German pilsner and Munich malts and Australian and European hops.”
Glassware: Footed flute.
Appearance: Hazy golden yellow with a big and healthy three finger head over the top. Slow and steady reduction with patchy lace strewn down the glass.
Aroma: Tidy little 50/50 hybrid, picking up the traditional grainy and semi sweet honeyed malts with new world floral and tangy citrus hops. Hints of spice, sherbet, passion fruit and candied lemon giving some support.
Flavour: Similar to the aroma with its subtle grainy malt base and mild layers of citrusy hops. Not a whole lot of variation as it carries through the mid, finishing light and kind of dry with a fusion of floral and citrusy hops on the back end.
Mouthfeel: Crisp, sparkling and a little chalky with active co2. Moderately bodied.
Overall: It could do with a bit more malt character but essentially it’s a decent new world style pilsner. She’s light, fruity and refreshing and above all….super sessional.
“Legbreaker takes to the field as a determined all-rounder, striking a well-practiced balance between sweet, malt biscuit flavour and the bitter hoppy wallops of generous doses of American Columbus, Centennial and Citra. Stand by for lashings of grapefruit, floral, and resinous characters.”
Glassware: IPA glass.
Appearance: Slightly hazy amber. The pour generates a frothy two finger crown that persists. Tonnes of lace is clinging to the glass as we hook in.
Aroma: Getting a fair amount of pine resin, ruby grapefruit, candied orange, tang and mild spicy notes – mostly pepper and aniseed. Melon, passion fruit and a hint of lychee also coming through with a biscuity malt backing.
Flavour: Certainly kept with the resinous character. Slightly earthy on the front end though. Nice little grapefruit acidity with some tangy orange sweetness midway. It rolls in to a dry and bitter finish with spice and pine resins going the distance on the back palate.
Mouthfeel: Bitter (60 IBU) and somewhat sharp (5.6% ABV). Medium body and co2. Pretty assertive for its weight.
Overall: It kind of straddles that line between American pale ale and IPA. It would have to be a pretty big APA but then again it’s not really big enough to be an IPA. Confused yet?! Anywho, it’s good without being great.