“WHAT a waste. A non-beer drinker doing a tour of a brewery.”
My husband was right, to a point. His words had come back to haunt me as I stood listening to head brewer Mitch Bradey as he explained the beer making process: taking the three essential ingredients of beer – malt, hops and yeast – and creating something special to drink.
And I did feel like a traitor, as the only one of our group sipping a sauvignon blanc blend when free beer was on offer to quench the thirst brought on by Mitch’s educational talk.
But I had tried. For the best part of an hour, I had sipped my share of the eight locally brewed products at The Brewery, Townsville.
I held a brave face as I expanded my tastebuds’ liquid horizons and consumed more than a single schooner all up.
And that was probably equivalent to a third of the amount of beer I had drunk up until that point in my life … and the first quantity of beer I had had: A. when sober; B. since the age of 20; C. that I hadn’t spilled over myself; and D. that hadn’t reappeared inside the “porcelain bus”.
And may I say that it is a credit to the establishment that taste- testing The Brewery’s amber fluids was much more pleasant than expected. In fact, to my inexperienced, female, dry white wine-loving palate, the first two brews I tried – the citrusy/fruity pale lager Bandito Loco and the coriander and ginger-infused Belgian Blonde, which is unfiltered for a full flavoured pilsener – were very refreshing.
As Mitch said, in a micro-brewery such as this one, owned by Restaurant and Catering Queensland president Peter Summers, all tastes must be catered for.
Each year, the factory brews a series of seasonal beers which not only reflect the particular time of year but also give patrons a taste of flavoursome beer styles from across the globe. Spring at The Brewery saw the big hoppy flavour of New Zealand Sheepish (perhaps that should be renamed New Zealand Skippy?), for example.
“It’s a beautiful thing, brewing,” Mitch told us, matter-of-factly. “It’s a combination of art and science.
“In a craft brewery like this, we can have a little bit of fun and produce beers that have a lot more flavour.”
Certainly, the beer menu descriptions read like any good wine list, outlining many of the ingredients and corresponding taste, brewing style and alcohol content.
As well as those already mentioned, The Brewery has Townsville Bitter (crisp and dry light lager blended with three Australian malts and imported saaz hops), Lager Lout (pale-golden lager in the European style), Diggers Golden Ale (full-bodied with a clean and refreshing hoppy bitterness – a nice session beer), Flanagan’s Dry Irish Stout (with a distinct hop bitterness to balance the chocolate/espresso flavours) and Ned’s Red (rich, creamy Irish-style red ale). The brewing company’s consistency in quality has resulted in quite a few medals over its nine years.
At present, 1700 litres (32 kegs) of beer are produced per batch, but Peter is about to embark on the next stage of his dream operation: commercial bottling.
He expects to begin bottling in March with three brews: the almost-ready Townsville Premium, Townsville Premium Light (currently known as Townsville Bitter) and the Mexican-style Bandito Loco. His goal is to brew 250,000 litres a year, selling locally to Far North Queensland, shipping in refrigerated vans to South-East Queensland, and possibly overseas to Papua New Guinea.
Exciting times ahead.
Though I’m sorry to report I’m still not a beer drinker, that may change if I ever move to North Queensland ... or if my husband wanders into our local bottle shop and discovers a nice little drop from Townsville in March.
Formerly the old post office, The Brewery has been operating for nine years and has just completed its second refurbishment and refit.
As well as the present tavern and restaurant, a formal 200-seat banquet centre is being developed on the first floor.
Townsville Brewing Company, 252 Flinders Street, Townsville.
Corporate tours are available.
Phone 4724 2999.
Where to stay:
Mercure Townsville, Ph 4759 4900.
Grand Mercure Apartments, Ph (07) 4753 2800.
Ibis Townsville, Ph 4753 2000.
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