It has been a long time since we’ve hit the road and visited one of the countless new breweries that have opened since we last got together for a brewery review.
This time we decided to check out The Yard Brewery & Smokehouse. It’s situated in Morriset on the Central Coast, which is just off the Pacific Highway about 45 minutes’ drive south of Newcastle. It was opened in 2022 by 5 different families.
Inside, you’re greeted by an expansive and beautifully designed brewhouse and taproom. They have 12 taps and all 12 are pouring a top to tail range of their own well-crafted beers. One gets the feeling that there was a large upfront investment injected into this place. Even the toilet doors open automatically just for pure convenience (and probably hygiene too!)
Once we were seated, we were ready for a paddlin’! We tried:
Oat Cream IPA
West Coast IPA
Out of all the IPA’s the Oat Cream was the standout. It was akin to Mountain Culture which is a ringing endorsement for the brewers. The Red IPA was probably the next best with its delicious caramel malt base and fruity hop profile. We would’ve loved to see the ABV pumped up a bit more for extra oomph and substance though. The last 4 on the above list were all great beers, more entry level stuff if we had to be honest but they all displayed excellent balance and shows the brew team know what they’re doing.
One of the other massive drawcards to this brewery is its smokehouse which you get a whiff of every now and then. The smell of smoked meats and rich BBQ sauce makes it near impossible not to order something. We went for the tasting plate for 1 which was an insanely delicious combination of pulled pork and beef brisket with hand-cut fries and a small side of slaw. The meats literally melt in your mouth and the crispy fries and slaw add the crunch. Magnificent stuff.
Of note, the Espresso Stout was one we were both itching to try but the ABV meant that one of us couldn’t drive so we took a couple of take-aways to try and review at a later date.
Overall it was a fantastic experience. Especially when you consider the meagre amount of options a craft beer fan has between Hornsby and Newcastle. More like this will do just fine thank you very much!
A big shout out to Blake. The service was excellent and exactly what anyone would want from their bar staff.
This husband and wife operation have taken Monkish Brewing from humble beginnings to one of the hottest new(ish) breweries in Los Angeles. A program which kicked off with a few random Belgian ales back in 2012 has expanded to produce some of the best hazy IPA’s and stouts and then on to a respectable barrel/souring program. It’s funny as the latter was actually what they wanted to focus on originally! Henry Nguyen, the pastor turned head brewer now focuses mainly on the microbial bacteria….more commonly known now as Brettanomyces, Lactobacillus and Pediococcus – the 3 main players that create that funky, tart and acetic aroma and flavour in your sour beer.
The brewery bar has a relatively small but stellar range of beers. They offer 12 taps but no paddles so we slowly worked our way through from lightest to darkest starting with the Belgians – Tape Deck and Feminist – both were OK but somewhat forgettable. We moved on to the sours next. Silent Language and Invert The Sun were both absolutely delicious and a huge step up from the Belgians. We hit the crescendo with their IPA’s which were all in the NEIPA style, super cloudy, juicy and ultra smashy. We finished on their Russian Imperial Stout (Matrimonium) which was big, roasty and aggressive…a lovely way to finish off.
We really enjoyed visiting this joint. It had a great atmosphere out the back where you can literally sit amongst the barrels and tanks while you tuck in to whatever mobile food truck is attending on the day. Certainly wouldn’t mind having this place around the corner!
Their mission statement is simple yet effective – If you’re here you’re local. You will be meeting and chatting to locals, you’ll be drinking beers brewed by locals which are made purely from locally sourced ingredients. The two main locals behind the operation are Regan Long (head brewer & co-founder) and Sarah Fenson (co-founder). Although the pair would rather let the quality of the beer do the talking it’s hard not to be surprised (and impressed) that two females can run such a well oiled and fine brewery bar. More power to them we say!
They continue their ethos in the naming of their beers as well. While not all of them carry an acknowledgment to iconic locations in the area the ones that do inevitably end in an explanation of their significance (especially for us out-of-towners from downunder!) from Mike the energetic and entertaining lad behind the bar. We paddled up so we could try every one of their beers. On the day we tried the lager, Bluxome black, apricot fuzz, mid day mojito, Duboce IPA, double day, under the hazedar, F-bomb, totes oats, da ruckus, honey tart, Soma sunset, I don’t give a graham and the Sutro tower – both of which are stouts poured through nitro. All of their beers are simplistic and tasty…..made for sessioning!
It’s a tidy little joint and we’d love to stay but but we must move on as we plan on remembering most of this day!
To say that we were lucky is an understatement. As we turned on to Howard Street there was a line of punters approximately 150 metres long. “Surely this wasn’t a line just simply to get in to the brewery”! Unfortunately it was, but fortunately it was a release day and we were stoked that we were going to get our hands on a couple of very rare sour beers – the 4:1 peach/nectarine series to be exact. Now, we weren’t big on sours but this is why we have to lay credit at the feet of this brewery because after a couple of sips we may have finally understood why the sour craze has become so popular. We were blown away and we hadn’t even tasted the first beer in our flights yet!
As the flights are already pre-arranged ours read like this – 1) Cold End Pale Lager 2) Le Blond Hoppy Belgian Single 3) Zest Side Story Citrus Blonde 4) Little Lies English Bitter 5) Lil’ Momo Pale Ale 6) Fuzzy Glow Pale Ale 7) Inner Thoughts Pale Ale 8) Less Than Zero Brut IPA 9) Orange Julian IPA 10) Taco Hands IPA 11) Tim’s Brown Ale 12) PBJS Sandwich Stout (Peanut Butter Jelly Stout which easily takes the cake for us). Nevertheless, every other beer was down right delicious and even though a few of them were lower in ABV they were still full flavoured and really well balanced.
If you’re in San Francisco then this is a must visit. Their mantra is to produce small batch and edgy beers without sticking to a number of core range beers that could potentially become boring (I doubt their beers could ever be boring by the way). Jeez we’ve only been in San Francisco for a couple of hours and we’ve already been treated to this! We may never leave….
Here we are! The holy grail of craft breweries for a large number of craft beer enthusiasts. Not only famous for their Pliny (Younger & Older) but also for a whole host of other beers like the ‘ation sours – Supplication, Consecration, Sanctification and the Belgian range which include the Damnation, Benediction & Salvation. Then there’s the super limited release of Beatification which is a 100% spontaneously fermented Lambic sour which is aged in wine barrels. It’s a bit of a tongue twister but the demand it garners rivals most limited releases anywhere else in the country. It’s safe to say that this brewery is one of the most well known and respected in the USA and kudos must go to Vinnie Cilurzo (head brewer) for shaping it in to the huge and independent brewery it is today.
Equally as impressive are their flights. They come flush with 18 options which almost allowed us to knock over every one of their 20 beers in one hit! Our flight consisted of the STS Pils, Key Grip Pale Ale, Gaffers English Ale, ‘Ron Mexico’ (a standard Mexican Lager), Dribble Belt Hoppy Session Ale, Blind Pig IPA, Row 2, Hill 56 Simcoe Pale Ale, Tempo Change IPA, Pliny The Elder IPA, Redemption Blond Ale, Consecration Dark Sour, Perdition BDG, Damnation Golden Ale, Benediction Dubbel, Salvation Strong Dark Ale, Sanctification Sour and the Supplication Dark Sour. Every one of them with their own distinct brilliance.
We came, we saw, we conquered! And it lived up to every little expectation. We didn’t want to leave but with jet lag well set in and a lack of sleep coupled with a beer flight and a few pints of Pliny it was obvious we were going down hill fast! From Russian River, with love!
Our next stop was literally right in the heart of San Francisco’s wine country – Santa Rosa – a bustling little rural town known mostly for its wineries, breweries, lakes & parks and also the famous writer of the old cartoon ‘Peanuts’ Charles M. Schulz. But we were here for one thing (well maybe a couple of things) and that was to hit the local breweries! Third Street Aleworks was on the cards mainly because of its close proximity to another venue (we won’t mention it here but we think you know what we’re talking about).
The bar itself had a somewhat Irish/English pub feel to it with a cool little outdoor area and glass-back windows that give punters a view in to the actual brewery. It was surprisingly busy for a Tuesday arvo so we took a seat at the bar. The tap list was impressive but it was the size of the tasting flight that really took us aback as there’s enough space for 17 taster glasses but the brewery only offer 16 beers! “We’ll try every one of your beers thanks!”. But this is where it went down hill, there wasn’t really one beer that stood out, they were all a bit underwhelming and unbalanced. There were a few that were better than the others i.e the Annadel English Pale Ale, the Bodega IPA and the Stonefly Oatmeal Stout but other than that we were happy to move on!
Because just around the corner was what we were really here for!
It all kicked off on a picturesque afternoon in the heart of Californian wine country. This is after a 6am alarm and battling Sydney’s peak hour traffic to catch a 13 hour direct flight to San Francisco. Once we landed (the day before we left!) we followed that up with a short(ish) drive north out of the city to the semi rural town of Novato. There we finally stood in front of the brewery, situated at the front of a golf course and locked in by a gorgeous little lake. The place is deceptively big with the tanks to the left, the bistro to the right and a kind of sports bar set up in the centre. After we paddled up (by the way they call them flights in America) that huge sun-drenched decking area outside was calling our names!
As to be expected the beer selection was incredible. We loaded up with the Double Aught Pilsner, Grand-Am APA, Racer 5 IPA, Hop Shovel IPA, Hop Rod Rye IPA, Juicy IPA, Racer 500 IPA, Initial Attack Belgian IPA, Fastback Racer IIPA & the Big Bear Black Stout. With all of these delicious IPA’s we were wondering if our first stop had set the bar too high (along with our BAC!).
Too bad we had to keep moving as we could have really got comfortable here. We hope the Novato locals know just how lucky they are having an institution like this nearby. What a way to kick off proceedings!
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.
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!
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?!
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!
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.
This brewery wasn’t on our list to visit but seeing we were literally walking past its doors it would be silly of us not to check it out, right? The brewery is situated right down the south east corner of their foodie district, just off Courtenay place. The set up is more what we’re used to seeing in Sydney where a kind of industrial accent meets rustic with its wooden table tops and recycled keg stools. You will be hard pressed not to find something for the man shed in here too as there is an abundance of really cool merch everywhere.
Quite a small selection of beers compared to the other breweries we’ve visited in Wellington. They offer 8 taps with 6 reserved for their range of beers, one guest tap and the other for their cider. Seeing as their paddles are made up of 6 we thought that was an easy decision. All 6 beers were tasty drops. The stand outs for us were the Imperial IPA, the American stout and the coffee stout. Certainly beers that we’d return to. Unfortunately this was our last night of the trip so we thought we’d be good (for once) have an early night.
We are glad we stopped in here, it was a surprisingly good little operation. Definitely worth checking out.
Talk about saving the best til last (well, technically it was 2nd last as we made one more quick visit to another brewery on our last night). Just a up the road from Tuatara is the actual Garage Project brewery which has been set up inside a transformed petrol station on Aro street. Although you can purchase their bottled range and fill up your growlers here this isn’t the actual taproom (yes we made the mistake of thinking so). We were pointed in the right direction and thank god it was only across the street as we were thirsty!
The taproom itself is long and narrow but with ample seating. It flows through to the back where the bar shows off its impressive 20-tap offering. All of the fan fave’s are here: Pils n Thrills, Hapi Daze, DFA, Garagista and Chateau Aro but with a whole range of seasonal and staff one-off brews such as the Nectarivore, VPA, Tiramisu and Pan Pacific. We made our way through every beer and we can honestly say that they all ranged from good to absolutely superb. Not one average beer among the lot which is quite a feat.
We did not want to leave but there are just too many good craft beer bars to see in 4 days so off we go.
Our next stop only took a 10 minute stroll north of the CBD to a quaint little leafy suburb called Thorndon. All of their brewing operations are run out of the brewhouse in Nelson so this cosy little tavern is all about Ye Olde English charm and comfort. Grab a pint and a seat in the sunny courtyard out the back or get the sense of warmth inside while looking at the fireplace….which is no longer a fireplace (yes we were bummed out because it is the middle of winter!). Nevertheless this place does have a really warm and intimate feel to it.
Selection-wise it’s quite diverse. All 19 taps are reserved for their own beers and ciders so we thought we’d get comfortable as we were going to be here for a while! We made our way through most of the beers (not wasting any time with ciders) and get the feeling that they were all super clean, traditional European and true-to-style interpretations. The stand outs being their seasonal pilsner, English bitter and the porter.
We really like what these guys are bringing – this friendly and warm local tavern feel with a vast range of craft beers and ciders on offer. Wish we had a local like this back home.
This stop was recommended by our helpful buddy from Tuatara. As it was on our way back to the hotel we couldn’t say no! The impressive 2nd floor operation lies right inbetween the CBD and Wellingtons little foodie district of Cuba st and was about a 10 minute walk north of Tuatara (by the way if you’re planning on hitting all the breweries and bars this awesome little city has to offer then be sure to get yourselves a map of the ale trail. VERY handy).
Upon walking in it is impossible not to be blown away by the big centrepiece behind the bar. A great big custom made oak barrel adorned with 35 taps all the way around is something we’ve never seen before. The logistics of it alone was enough to make us smile from ear to ear! Everything about this place just exudes class, from the hand made paddles to the large wrap-around floor plan and stylish furniture. Our only gripe would be that with all of their own beers that were offered, none of them really stood out. A bit like Batch in Sydney…it’s all well and good to have dozens of beers but nine times out of ten we’d take quality over quantity. In no way are we panning the beers, the ones we had were still quite good, only none of them were memorable. Anywho, we’ll be back for another crack.
After a slight disappointment in the number of breweries in Auckland we were absolutely pumped to set foot in New Zealand’s hallowed craft beer capital – Wellington. ‘Windy Wellington’ as it’s passionately known and what a welcoming it gave us! A quick 15 minute stroll south out of the CBD lands us in Te Aro where a tantalising number of top shelf breweries are all within walking distance of each other. All in good time we assure ourselves as we head straight for one of our favourite Kiwi breweries – Tuatara aka The Third Eye.
For those that don’t know, a Tuatara is actually an ancient lizard-like reptile that has been around for donkeys. The exact correlation between a prehistoric reptile and craft beer is anyone’s guess but we aren’t visiting a zoo we came for the beer! The brewery boasts 14 taps with all but two pouring their extensive range. Via paddles we made our way through every beer with a few obvious stand outs like the Pilsner, India stout, APA and the chocolate milk stout. After a few hours of pestering the lovely girl behind the bar we thought we’d make tracks.
if you’re ever in Wellington be sure to drop in to this brewery. You won’t be disappointed.
Much to our surprise (and despair) Auckland city is seriously lacking in brewery bars. Last night we went to Brothers Beer, today we went to GABS and then we had plans to stop in at Epic Brewery as it was only a 5 minute Uber drive from the venue. That was until we were luckily informed that Epic only contract brews out of the spot we were about to head to! Bummed out! Luckily there was another brewery we wanted to visit.
Birkenhead brewing is a really cool little joint set inside a cottage which surely would have been someone’s residence decades ago. It’s neatly tucked away on the main road that runs through a busy little shopping strip just a few clicks north out of the city. Blink and you’d miss it! The range is small but decent offering a Pilsner, pale ale, DIPA and an oatmeal stout – all of which were very tasty beers. They also have a collaboration IPA with well known US brewery Ninkasi which was absolutely divine.
As we’re time-limited a paddle was all we could fit in. Time waits for no man!
What is the first thing you do when you arrive in a new city? Check out the hotels amenities? Go shopping? Find a nice restaurant? Stuff that, we go straight to the closest brewery, and it couldn’t be any better situated….how does right behind our hotel sound?!
Brothers Beer is a cosy little haunt just a few hundred metres south of the famous Viaduct. Contrary to what the name suggests, the pair who run the brewery are mates who conceived the idea over a beer (where all good ideas originate, right?). They offer an impressive 18 tap set up. 7 of which pour their range which includes a lager, golden ale, pale ale, IPA, Amber ale, black ale and a rotating seasonal. The other 11 guest taps include beers from Behemoth, Liberty, Kereru and a range of other small Kiwi microbreweries. They also offer an impressive range of bottled beers for on site consumption or take away.
Although we could stay here for hours we’re on a tight schedule and tomorrow we’re off to GABS!