Did you know that some of Australia’s most awarded craft breweries are on the Gold Coast? Craig Tansley has the scoop…
It wasn’t so long ago that the Gold Coast was all about one beer… XXXX. Apparently, they loved it up here (or so the slogan said). But not any more: these days the Gold Coast is the craft beer capital of Australia, home to the country’s most awarded craft breweries and beers. Here’s our top pick.
What could scream Gold Coast more than a brewery set up by four of the Gold Coast’s best-ever pro surfers, including three-time world champ, Mick Fanning, and his best mate, 2012 world champ Joel Parkinson? They set up Balter in Currumbin Waters’ formerly very unfashionable industrial estate and now it’s the place to be on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon. But this is one brewery that doesn’t rely solely on its star power: Balter won Champion Medium Size Brewery in Australia at the 2017 Australian International Beer Awards (AIBA), as well as Best International Pale Ale. But it was winning first place in the GABS Australian Hottest 100 Aussie Craft Beers awards – the largest and most influential people’s choice poll in the country – that really cemented its reputation. And with food trucks just outside and the Coast’s best DJs playing, there’s no hipper place to be on the weekend. The brewery is open Friday 3pm–9pm, Saturday 1pm–8pm and Sunday 12pm–7pm.
It started with three Brisbane mates – Dan, Eddie and Michael – who loved to drink beer together. Nothing too unusual about that in Australia – but what’s different about these buddies is that they’ve now created a brewery that’s rated among Australia’s top 10 breweries. Located just two blocks from the waves at Burleigh Point, this taproom is all about keeping it real – you’ll be drinking from one of eight taps among stacks of kegs, fermenters and malt sacks. But that’s what’s so great about Black Hops: it’s understated, yet somehow that makes it all the more trendy. Even its beers don’t scream at you; instead smooth ales like the Beach House are made for slow, sunny afternoons on the Coast. Fun fact (and fun pun): in 2015, Black Hops was asked by a US gaming giant to produce the promo brew for Call of Duty: Black Ops III. The brewery and taphouse is open 12pm–7pm Wednesday to Friday, and 12pm–6pm on weekends.
It was the Burleigh Brewing Company that started the whole craft brewing phenomenon on the Gold Coast. In 2006, everyone drank the same beer because there wasn’t any other choice, then a Hawaiian bloke and a Gold Coast woman got together and put it all on the line, giving up their old careers to introduce the Coast to craft beer. The rest, as they say, is history. There have been stacks of World Beer Award Gold Medals along the way, but the best was the duo’s Hef winning gold in the South German-Style Hefeweizen category at the 2012 World Beer Cup – the Olympics of beer. A Gold Coast company out-German’ing the Germans, imagine! They even won Gold Coast Business of the Year in 2014. Their brewery, Taphouse, is one of Burleigh’s trendiest spots, hosting live music and food trucks. Open Wednesday and Thursday 3pm–6pm; Friday 3pm–8.30pm; and Sundays from 12pm until 6pm in winter and 8pm in summer.
The latest addition to the burgeoning Gold Coast craft scene, Lost Palms has put a little fun into the brewery scene by taking out any tough guy elements associated with beer (and the Gold Coast) and introducing locals to a brewery and taphouse dominated by a pastel pink and mint colour scheme. Hardly your average brewery, is it? You’ll find it in the industrial area of hip neighbourhood Miami – among smash repairers and mechanics – but also just across the street from the Coast’s trendiest hang-out, the Miami Marketta (where you’ll find pop-up bars, boho designers, eclectic live music and a crowd that looks more Collingwood than Coolangatta). The dream of three engineering students who experimented with home brew during uni, it’s now the chemical engineer who’s in charge of the brews – so watch out, they pack a punch. Look for modern takes on beer with brews like the Beetroot Sour.
Long considered a Byron Bay beer, most Stone & Wood’s output these days actually happens in a brewery barely 20 minutes drive south of Coolangatta airport (just north of Murwillumbah). On select days the brewery is open to the public – and its twice-annual family days are well worth the visit (check out the stunning views over the region’s highest mountain, Mt Warning). Stone & Wood won Champion Large Brewery in Australia at the 2016 and 2017 Australian International Beer Awards (AIBA), and consistently wins first place in the GABS Australian Hottest 100 Aussie Craft Beers awards (till Balter knocked it back to number two last year). Imagine, the two best craft beers in Australia are only 25 minutes’ drive apart – and they’re on the Gold Coast, not Melbourne!