Cheers To Australia’s Top Breweries

31 March 2014

Brisbane recently played host to the inaugural Brewsvegas event – one week of appreciating and better understanding the art that goes into crafting a pint.

Aside from wetting the whistles of Brisbanites, one thing Brewsvegas did well was highlight the wave of micro and breakout breweries springing up throughout the nation, and a public eager to catch the frothy swell.

In honour of the tipple at the heart of many a backyard barbie, Friday knock-off and laid-back get together, we’ve compiled a list of the best breweries in this parched country to sample a bang-up beer or two, as well as take a peek behind the scenes.
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Something's brewing in Brisbane

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 New kid on the block - Newstead Brewing Co in Brisbane

The greater Brisbane region is overflowing amber ale these days, and you don’t even have to head out to the sticks to sample a local bevvy! There are two top-notch breweries just north of the CBD – Newstead Brewing Co and Green Beacon Brewing Co.

Housed in a converted bus depot, Newstead Brewing Co flaunts eight of their own concoctions on tap – all grain, all natural, all straight from the tanks adjacent to the bar.

For the designated drivers, you’ll just have to settle for donuts with peanut butter and salted caramel dipping sauce and jalapeno poppers stuffed with cream cheese.

Of course, many visitors are still lured by the sly wink of Mr Fourex at the Milton-based XXXX Brewery, where you can enjoy a schooner of pure “Queenslandahhh” gold.
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Hops to it in Hobart

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 Australia’s southernmost state has happily kept its top-notch cuisine scene to itself, but the jig is up! Tassie has a long history of doing the brew and capital city Hobart is where a good deal of the magic happens.

Major label Cascade is brewed and bottled ‘on the edge of the earth’ in Hobart, with brewery tours on offer seven days a week. Tag along with a Cascade Brewery or Heritage tour for a real taste of history – straight from the taps!

Further up the River Derwent you’ll find Moo Brew’s five stalwart beers (plus some small batch brews on occasion) on show at the infamous MONA. Not a beer drinker? Not to worry. The Apple Isle also produces a range of crisp fruity ciders, plus some award-winning whisky for good measure.

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Beer o'clock in Burleigh Heads

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 Weathering the storm - Burleigh Brewing Co in Burleigh Heads

Tucked between Surfers Paradise and Coolangatta on the Gold Coast, Burleigh Heads is a sunshiny pocket of surf breaks and afternoon coldies.

It may only have one brewery to its name, but what Burleigh lacks in crafty competition it more than makes up for with its well-loved labels.

Like a self-confessed kid with chemistry set (but without any chemicals in the mix), the folk at Burleigh Brewing Co are ever in the pursuit of ‘hoppiness’, searching for the next great Australian beer. To date they have birthed Bighead, HEF and My Wife’s Bitter among others.

Meet the Brewmaster himself at the Burleigh Brewery on the first Saturday of the month, or swing by on Friday evenings for live music and free popcorn.

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Crack open a coldie in Cairns

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 Tastes like the Tropics!

North Queensland’s balmy (see: oppressively humid) weather makes it near impossible to resist a brewskie served in a frosty glass. Blue Sky Brewery – conveniently located right in the heart of Cairns – has answered the call from Far North Queenslanders looking for a beer they can call their own.

The award-winning line-up includes a traditional Czech-style Blue Sky Pilsner, which can be enjoyed on a brewery tour or at the Blue Sky Bar at the Cairns Domestic Airport – what better way to start or finish your visit to the tropical north?

For those yet to garner an appreciation for a malty drop, venture into the hinterlands and try Mango Port at the Golden Drop Winery or sample the seductive liqueurs at Mt Uncle Distillery, where flavours vary from mulberry to marshmallow.
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Ales abound in Adelaide

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 A very hoppy heritage - Coopers Brewery in Adelaide

Just as many cafes have taken to roasting their own beans, several breweries have decided that imported beers should take a backseat to local crafts.

Adelaide and its surrounds may be known as a grape-growing mecca, but a rising craft beer scene is slowing encroaching on viticulture’s fertile turf.

From the Prancing Pony Brewery – Australia’s only brewery that uses actual fire power – to the staunchly German Lobethal Bierhaus, Adelaide is home to a grand selection of unique beer-making establishments.

Perhaps the best known is Coopers Brewery – a family-run, large scale brewery circa 1862. Melding modern and traditional methods, Coopers has brewing down to a fine art. You can discover South Australia’s beer history, or beerstory, at the Coopers brewhouse and museum.

Ashton Rigg

When I'm not at home in Brisbane, you’ll find me wanderlusting around hipster bars, eclectic boutiques and arty nooks. From bagels in Brooklyn to strudel in Salzburg, I believe the best way to experience a destination is by taking a bite! Tweets & 'grams at @AshtonRigg