A wobbly start to day three of my tour around breweries in Queensland’s capital. I start in the north and work my way back to the city centre.
Imperial stouts are delicious—a great beer to end a night.
At this point in my life, I feel I’m a much smarter drinker than I’ve ever been. Since I aimed to see as many breweries and venues as I could on my trip, I limited myself to between one or two beers at each and was mindful of their ABV. I kept my fluids up and made sure I ate.
But at the end of the previous night, I wanted the tastiest, most decadent stout I could find. But, when you’ve been touring breweries all day and have plans to do it again the next, the choice to finish with a 12 per cent ABV beer – has flaws.
While still far from a full-blown hangover, my condition this morning was shaky.
My instability was exacerbated by aching feet and ankles, no doubt caused by less-than-podiatrically sound footwear.
I knew getting moving again would see me right eventually, but all the same, I thought it wise to rest a little more before venturing out again.
As I mentioned at the end of part two, I had a tentative plan to join Hop On Brewery Tours and see some breweries on the Gold Coast. This would require I catch a train around 11 am to meet them as they started.
Opting for a later start to the day, I decided to continue my adventure while staying in Brisbane.
The new plan was to take the train from Roma Station to Northgate, visit two breweries in the vicinity, return to the train, backtrack to Bowen Hills, and walk between some breweries in Newstead and Teneriffe.
After a quick stop for a takeaway coffee, I was on my way.
After fifteen minutes on the train and another fifteen on foot, I was at my destination.
Joslyn recommended Fick Brewing as an alternative to Madocke Brewing. Both have a focus on Belgian beer styles.
But now I was in a quandary. The tap list was certainly everything I could have hoped for, but with few of these ales under 6 per cent ABV, which ones would I sample? Even without the experience from the previous night, I know better than to kick off a tour of eight or nine breweries with a 9.5 per cent Belgian Quad.
I opted for the Mandarina Blonde since I assumed it took its name from Mandarina Bavaria hops, a variety I am interested in. I followed that with some spicy chicken goujons, matched with the Triple.
Buying takeaways to bring back to Victoria was an option, but I was reluctant to risk bottled beer in my luggage. In hindsight, I should have taken a chance. I guess I’ll have to come back next time.
The walk from Fick to Aether was less than ten minutes. Something of a relief since the sky was starting to turn grey.
The venue epitomises what I love about small independent breweries. To the front, there’s an open space with tables and barrels that provide seating for the predominantly local clientele, but at the rear, they’re among the tall, sparkling stainless steel kettles and fermenters in all their glory.
I have only a basic theoretical understanding of the beer-making process. Still, as I sat enjoying my beer, I traced how the liquid flows through pipes and heat exchangers between the vessels and tanks.
It’s a venue that screams, yes, we make the beer here.
Upon the shiny white tiled wall that acts as a beer menu, one beer was begging me to sample it—the Pinot Grigio sour. Pressings of the grape are added in the brewing process and it’s aged in oak barrels.
I’ve had very few Aether beers. Despite this, the brewery often sits at the forefront of my mind. The combination of distinctive branding and a unique, succinct and mythological name, have etched the brewery into my memory. It appeals to me on some level that I daren’t try to explain. I’ll leave it to the marketing psychology experts.
And the first beer that springs to mind when I think of Aether is El Jefe. Perhaps it reminds me of the expansion for one of my favourite video games, Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare. The grey figure’s Aviator-style sunglasses appear like a skull’s wide, black eye sockets, and his sombrero harks back to the old west.
Before moving on, I enjoyed a free pint of the Mexican lager, courtesy of The Crafty Cabal.
I need to mention All Inn Brewing quickly despite not having visited the brewery.
I could have taken the train two stops further out the Northgate line and been at the brewery in around fifteen minutes. It wasn’t until speaking with brewery staff at GABS the following day that I discovered just how close by I was.
I mention it now rather than later in this story, just in case anyone is inspired to mimic some part of my journey.
I confess to being somewhat ambivalent about visiting Range Brewing before I got there. They certainly make fantastic beer and deserve the excitement they generate Australia-wide.
I find my experience with Range to be something of a blur. Unlike other breweries, no single beer sticks in my mind, and I’ve not formed any attachment to the brand. Keeping up with them is hard work, even for me.
But since I was in the area, and there was no doubt I’d get a great beer from this multi-award-winning brewery, I thought I’d check out the site where people line up for limited releases.
I hadn’t studied the tap list closely by the time it was my turn to order. Around half of the eighteen beers were IPAs, so I trusted the staff to help find something that might suit me.
“I feel like something with American hops. Something with Mosaic or Citra?” I said.
The barman laughed. “Well, we just so happen to have this….”
He pointed to the menu, and there it was, Dripping in Green: Mosaic + Citra.
As I sat enjoying my IPA, a beer I felt was made just for me at that moment; I scanned around the rest of the venue.
The brewhouse itself surrounds the seating area to the venue’s rear. A steady stream of people visited nearby a counter designated for takeaway sales and merch. I didn’t see any food, but would later be reminded it was available.
With five o’clock drawing near, the venue was already heaving. I vacated my booth and moved to a small table nearer the bar to ponder.
When it opened in 2018, Range Brewing defied convention by not having a core range of beers. Not only have they been validated by their success, but a few other breweries have adopted the practice of turning out a seemingly endless stream of limited-release beers. In a way, I suppose the model is the perfect fit for a market flush with promiscuous beer ‘tickers’.
I’m glad I visited and saw where it all began.
With the sun dipping below the horizon, I left for the next brewery.
The day continues in Part Five.