Thursday, September 30, 2010

AFL Grand Final Weekend Catchup

Last Friday night the wife and I found ourselves in the rare (for us) position of being on the west side of the city, so we took advantage of the situation and finally made our first visit to Melbourne's newest specialty beer bar, Biero Bar.

We wandered in a little before 9pm to a jam packed and bustling bar, taking a moment to get our Biero bearings and decide on our first drinks for the evening.

The interior of bar is beautiful. Lit by candles, with exposed brick walls and the now famous beer vaults commanding your attention. Overall, the design and decoration of Biero Bar is cosy and commendable.

Unfortunately, the biggest disappointment for me at Biero Bar was the unavailability of listed tap beers. Biero uses their massive mirrored wall to display the beers currently available on tap. The list included the 2Bothers "James Brown" Belgian Strong Ale and the Murray's Brewing "Angry Man" Brown Ale. Since part of the reason we were actually there was to try the James Brown, our mood was somewhat soured when we discovered the neither of these beers were actually available. Bummer!

Nonetheless, I was still able to enjoy an untried beer in the Murray's Brewing "Dark Knight" Porter, whilst my wife savoured the Red Hill Brewery Weizenbock on tap.

Just like in the bottle, the Red Hill Brewery Weizenbock is a sweet joy on tap!

I think we were simply in Biero Bar at the wrong time for our "quiet style".  We shouldn't have been surprised, given it was a Friday night leading into a big weekend...when you would expect such a drunken crowd to dominate. But the squash and noise in the bar, as well as the lack of a quiet corner to retreat to, made it difficult to sip and enjoy some good beers. Further, with limited beers actually available on tap and the beer menu throwing up few surprises from me, I felt somewhat underwhelmed, possibly lacking the understanding of how to actually navigate the bar and order something genuinely exciting. Therefore, we decided to move on after just one beer to continue our hunt for the 2Bothers "James Brown" Belgian Strong Ale.

But I'll be back there at some stage - preferably earlier in the day before the crowd hits - to learn more about Biero....because it certainly has plenty of potential.

Our next move was to wander to the other end of the city to visit Beer Deluxe in hope of finding the James Brown on tap. No luck again, however the Murray's Brewing "Angry Man" Brown Ale was in plentiful supply, so we enjoyed a glass each of this malty Brown with plenty of flavour.

The final step in our now-official-mission of the night to drink some 2Brothers James Brown was to poke our head in the door of The Royston Hotel. However, a quick glance as the tap beer list (which did not include James Brown) led us to quickly jump across the road to catch the Mountain Goat Brewery's Goat Bar offerings before closing time...and we were rewarded with their Surefoot Stout randied through coffee beers (our second experience of this sexy coffee'd stout). Gorgeous!

The Mountain Goat Surefoot Stout with added coffee thanks to Randy, their Randall infuser!

No shortage of brilliant beers and free bar space at The Goat Bar after 11pm on a Friday night!

The joy of this brew called for a PINT!

On Saturday, AFL Grand Final game day, we made our way into the city for lunch and festivities at Mrs Parma's.

Mrs Parma's was a simply sensational choice for watching the Grand Final, helped by the majority of the day's patronage very much supporting St Kilda (or at least, barracking against Collingwood). The main bar area was arranged well with tables to allow those who had booked a place for the event to enjoy an excellent view of their quality big screen. There was a minor glitch with the sound at first (in case you didn't know - digital tv and radio has a 7 second processing delay, so you can not watch live digital tv whilst listening to an analogue radio commentary broadcast and vice-versa), but that was eventually rectified and the ample supply of excellent Victorian craft beer counteracted the distraction.

As mentioned in previous posts, the Grand Ridge Brewery beers were being showcased on tap for this Mrs Parma's Grand Final Day event, and we drank several, including the Draught Lager, "Gippsland Gold" Pale Ale and "Hat Lifter" Stout. However, it was the Tooborac Hotel's "Woodcutter" Amber Ale that proved the top pick for us.

The Grand Ridge beers where still a bit so-so, as always for me. However, I quite enjoyed the Hat Lifter Stout on tap, as I had not tried the draught version before. Still very similar to the bottled version, I think on tap the Hat Lifter has a slightly richer dark chocolate taste.

After the game ended - finishing with a remarkable draw that left everyone somewhat dumbfounded - we sort solace in a super hop hit by wandering down to Federation Square to drink the new Murray's Brewing "Spartacus" Imperial IPA, on tap at Beer DeLuxe.

The mood at Beer DeLuxe was somber, as Melbourne came to grips with the Grand Final draw confusion. However, everyone was making very good use of the fine beer selection to find an answer to the question of "what next?".

My notepad came out for some tasting notes of the Spartacus

Served into a plastic cup (not the norm at Beer DeLuxe, but required by liquor licencing law on this day because of the potential for very large crowds and celebrations...which would not eventuate on this occasion), the Spartacus shone with a cloudy golden-amber and a decent bubbly white head (common to many of Murray's beers). The aroma was all wonderful floral hops, provided by the Riwaka and Motueka hops which were jam packed into the brew. The taste was massively hoppy with plenty of sweetness too, providing a clear passionfruit flavour. In the mouth it is light and has high carbonation, yet possesses a very solid body. Excellent! The 10% alc/vol is remarkably well hidden.

Murray's Brewing Spartacus Imperial IPA

A very drinkable Imperial IPA, especially as I was easily able to put away two, even after a day of enjoying numerous various beers. The Spartacus is a brilliant beer. I highly recommend given it a try!

On Sunday the weekend was wrapped up with a quiet evening drinking a couple of Aussie craft beers, which was dominated by a couple of bottles (bought at Duncans Church St Cellars in Richmond) the latest Rare Breed release from Mountain Goat - the magnificent Double Hightail.

There was also the Arctic Fox American Pale Ale (thanks to a sample back from The Beer Boys), which is very similar in style to the Little Creatures Pale Ale and provided a very nice appearance with a decent hoppy aroma. However, the taste lacked any real depth and the beer is completely let down by the ZERO finish! The taste is pretty much gone as soon as your taste it. Strange.

Finally, I also consumed a 4 pack of Feral Brewing Hop Hog IPA (bought from Slowbeer), which has just made its way to Victoria in bottles for the first time. I have heard much praise for this beer so I was very keen to try it...and the Hop Hog did not disappoint. However, I suspect it would perform better on tap. Therefore, at some stage I'll make my way to The Great Northern Hotel in Carlton, which lays claim to being the only venue in Victoria offering a constant supply of the Hop Hog on tap.

The Arctic Fox APA has an excellent appearance and aroma, but simply lacks any depth or length.

The Feral Hop Hog IPA is very drinkable and has a refreshing bitterness.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

AFL Grand Final Weekend Beers and Bars

Today, the last Saturday in September, marks the pinnacle of sporting fever in Melbourne with the AFL Grand Final being played this afternoon.

Many will try and ignore it or be "so-not-into it", but it is nearly impossible to avoid the hype and discussion flowing across this football loving city. Back-yards and parks across the State will be buzzing with the sounds of families and friends gathering and bbqs sizzling, as well as beer stubbies and cans being cracked left-right-and-centre!

This year the two teams playing off in the Grand Final are the Collingwood Magpies (the most populously supported team in Victoria, as well as the most loathed team by anyone who does not follow the 'Pies, such as my self) and the long-suffering St Kilda Saints (who have not won a Premiership since 1966).

As a life long supporter of the Essendon Football Club (who enjoyed success a decade ago, but have been lingering around the bottom of the pack for too long now), this year's game will not quite evoke the full wrath of passion from me. However, my bride is a keen St Kilda Football Club supporter (a surprising but welcome discovery when I first met her...considering she was born and bred in rugby-centric Queensland and had been following the Saints since her school years...not just jumping into AFL when trying to win the favour of a strapping Melbourne boy who she was crushing on). Therefore, by proxy, I am ALL ABOUT THE SAINTS! (At least St Kilda's Red, Black and White colours and close enough to the Red and Black colours of my Essendon Bombers!)

Of course, around here...when there is sport, there is beer. Unfortunately, that normally means a slab of Carlton Draught or, even worse, Tooheys Extra Dry (the industrial macro-brewery lagers which offer little more than a harsh amber liquid, which smells like "beer" and tastes like chemicals, then hurts your head). On the flip, thankfully in Melbourne the passion craft beer is starting to show signs of one day being as big as the footy (...we can only hope!). Therefore, there are plenty of quality craft beer options now readily available all around town, to improve your Grand Final watching experience.

To cheer on this event, here is my suggestion of Victorian craft beers for St Kilda fans to beer-theme their weekend with their team colours of...
Red - Holgate Big Reg
Black - 3Ravens Stout
White - Bright Razor Witbier

Alternatively, here's a few more awesome locals that nicely fit the colour theme and are worth tracking down...

And finally...although not an Aussie craft beer...the one I recommend most to Saints fans this weekend is the fantastic 5am Saint Amber Ale from Scottish (mad)brewers, BrewDog. No only is the Red, White and Black label perfect for your team...this beer is beautifully balanced, sessional, and...drinks like victory!

Go Saints!

Our Grand Final Day will involve watching the game from inside Mrs Parmas, so we can enjoy the match on a big screen, with a footy-loving crowd in the heart of Melbourne, along with a brilliant range of Victorian craft beers on tap - including a showcase from Grand Ridge Brewery - which will help us celebrate or commiserate...whichever way the game goes.

And then...if victory comes our way...we'll be heading down to Federation Square for the winning team player presentations...which may also include a quick stop into Beer DeLuxe, where the new Murray's Brewing Imperial IPA "Spartacus" will be on tap (which I may have had a very special sneak peak of last night...and YES...I believe it DOES kick ass!). Oh, and I wouldn't be surprised if we end the day at The Royston.

If you are looking to do the same, a list of Melbourne beer-bars showing the footy on big screens can be found on The Crafty Pint Events page at:

As well as today's article, which wraps it all together at:

Monday, September 20, 2010

Beer - Grand Ridge Brewery Mirboo Midnight

This weekend I found myself in possession of a yet-to-be-released (hence the labelless bottle) Grand Ridge Brewery Mirboo Midnight barrel-aged Dark Ale (thanks Slowbeer!).

Following on from the Mirboo Madness American Red Ale released earlier this year, I am excited to see more innovation coming out of the grandfather of Victorian microbreweries. The long established range of beers from Grand Ridge Brewery has stood relatively unchanged for some time now...and hence possibly suffered a little from the recent influx of amazing local craft beers, providing new and unique styles and redefining the standard for local brewing quality and taste.

Therefore, I had begun to feel that Grand Ridge Brewery was unfortunately being left behind in the Australian beer renaissance, finding their beers somewhat underwhelming and even a little rough (with the exception of the very rich and enjoyable Supershine barleywine).  Even the initially awesome Moonshine scotch ale has worn off on me recently.

I believe the Mirboo Midnight may mark a return to form...

Pouring the Mirboo Midnight from a 330ml bottle into a tulip glass, this beer possesses an impressive appearance - deeply dark black with a beautiful big, frothy, tan coloured head. The head held quite well and left plenty of thick lacing as it slowly reduced.

The aroma was wonderfully strong, lead by a bitter chocolate hit, followed by malt and wooded characters, toffee, dark fruit and coffee. A great Winter ale mix.

The flavour is rich, driven by the bitter chocolate and classic malty Grand Ridge taste (similar to Little Creatures, I find that the Grand Ridge beers all share a very distinct "Grand Ridge character" across their range). I am not inclined to describe it as a "complex" taste, but there is enough going on in this beer to keep a craft-beer lover happy, thanks to the barreling of the brew.

With a full body and medium carbonation, the Mirboo Midnight provides a lovely long palate and a good clean finish. It is well balanced and the 6.5% alc/vol contributes nicely to warming Winter Ale style.

Still probably not a sessional beer, but definitely the most enjoyable beer I've had from Grand Ridge Brewery since the Supershine. The barrel-aging is clearly the key to this beer.

Yes, this is an excellent beer from Grand Ridge, maybe still a little of the top of range big and bold local craft beers of recent months, but it has restored my faith in this brewery. Hopefully we will continue to see more seasonals from them, such as this.

I understand the Mirboo Midnight may be available this Saturday during the AFL Grand Final and Grand Ridge Brewery Showcase at Mrs Parmas (event info HERE via The Crafty Pint website), which my wife and I have booked a spot for through the afternoon. Would love to try this out on tap, but I suspect it will just be the bottled version available as a prize during the event. If anyone finds it on tap...please let me know!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Beers - Anniversary Celebrations - Slowbeer & Bridge Road Brewers B2 Bomber

Here is a post dedicated to two local businesses, currently celebrating anniversaries, which are doing great things for craft beer in Victoria.

Specialty beer retail shop, Slowbeer, opened one year ago and have been sharing the beer love over the last week with a 1st Birthday discount on all purchases.

Located in Hawthorn, store owners Chris and Stewart are both very passionate and richly knowledgeable about the world of beer.

The cosy size of the shop may limit the stock readily available at arms length, but the shelves are always full and the range is extensive, as well as regularly changing, pretty much guaranteeing that you will always find something you have not tasted before.

And the shop is ALL BEER (with a couple of ciders from local producers). You will find no space or pseudo-expertise wasted by wine or spirits. Furthermore, if you are looking for any form of major commercial macro brewery beers...there is an Dan Murphy's 1km down the road, if you must, because you will not find any in Slowbeer.

One side of the shop is dedicated to Australian craft beers and the other side showcases international beers, including a section specifically for our neighbourly New Zealand's craft beers. A fridge also provides a small supply of chilled bottles ready to drink.

Other than being conveniently located close-ish to my home (within 5 minutes by car or a 25 minute walk), the aspect of Slowbeer that I most appreciate is their complete lack of "salesmen-bullshit-talk". The Slowbeer staff won't try and sell you a beer or talk up something they don't believe in. Instead, they will help guide you to a style/brewery/region or specific beer that might match your likes, to help you explore the world of craft and boutique beers. A gentle "can I help you with anything" is often offer up, but just browsing is fine, as you will never be made to feel that you must hurry along or empty your wallet.

Co-owner (and the most common sight behind the counter) Chris is not afraid to talk down aspects/characteristics of a beer, which is awfully refreshing in the retail industry. However, he will readily agree that there is no beer that is not worth at least trying.

Whilst you will not find a bad beer in the Slowbeer shop, there are certainly some products that are better than others and everyone has different preferred tastes and styles...and the expensive ones are not always the best ones. Therefore, you will find them very accommodating to your own beer journey, whether your new to craft beer or a well seasoned and traveled consumer.

The international range

I can spend endless amounts of time circling the little shop. With such a delicious range, the decisions are never easy!

Local favourites from Mountain Goat, The Little Brewing Co, Stone & Wood, McLaren Vale Brewing and White Rabbit

More Victorians, including Bridge Road Brewers and Hargreaves Hill Brewing Company

Slowbeer also has an excellent online presence, effectively using an newsletter-blog, Twitter, Facebook and their website (which is somewhat dated and clunky, but I hear a new improved website is on the way) to keep everyone up to date with their stock, tasting notes, events...and all you need to know about the shop.

Occasionally on Friday afternoons (normally between 5pm-7pm), Slowbeer will have free/open tastings available from a particular Brewery. They have been a little rare lately, but are likely to pick up once again as Summer approaches. Keep an eye on their blog for details.

And finally, Slowbeer has growlers! I blogged about the slowbeer2go growlers concept a little while back, so I won't revisit it on in this blog. However, I will mention that, two months on, the Slowbeer growlers have proven to be a sensation! Beers from Mikkeller, BrewDog and Dieu Du Ciel have all performed wonderfully in the growlers and really opened up a new channel for exploring good beer.

To read more, check out this recent article from The AGE newspaper: "Takeaway draught — what next?" by James Smith, The AGE Epicure, August 3, 2010.

Tying in nicely to the next part of this blog...last week's Slowbeer growler offering was the new anniversary ale from Bridge Road Brewers.

Celebrating their 5th anniversary, Beechworth's Bridge Road Brewers are true leader in Australian craft beer innovation.

Head Brewer Ben Kraus has produced an impressive new beer in the form of a Black Belgian IPA that he has named B2 Bomber (excellent name!), which is now available in 750ml bottles (for about $30) or can be found on tap at the Bridge Road Brewery, as well as a number of Victorian beer bars (check out the Crafty Pint website for locations).

Following on from last year's Oak Aged Imperial Porter, brewed to celebrate their 4th Anniversary, this new anniversary ale is one of the best beers from Australia that I've tasted, primarily due to its rich complexity and uniqueness amongst this country's craft beer industry. Most of all...despite being a big bold dark Belgian is super drinkable.

The B2 Bomber was born through some in-house experimentation at the Bridge Road Brewery, blending their 2009 Galaxy (Single-hop IPA) with their regular Robust Porter. Finding potential in the result, Ben continued the development of this special brew by introducing a Belgian yeast, providing a novel combination of malt, hops and yeasty esters.

Poured from my Slowbeer growler into a glass (I was away-from-home, so no specialty beer glass on this occasion), the B2 Bomber was beautifully dark with an excellent big espresso-coloured head, which retained very nicely after settling down to a solid centimeter.

The aroma was strong and gorgeous, it yelled "good beer!", especially due to the hop presences in such a dark beer, combined with lovely roasted malts, delicious chocolate, hints of coffee and plenty of fruity notes.

In the mouth this beer tasted and felt just right. Big and bold but not aggressive, with a full body and medium carbonation.

The complex taste very much continues straight on from the aroma - rich roasted malts, chocolate and dark fruits. There is plenty of flavour and character to explore and savour (...which I'm not educated enough to interpret fully).

The 8.5% abv is fantastically balanced, warming but hardly noticeable in the taste. The finish is long and dry without being harsh. On finishing, I was instantly ready for another glass. Yum!

I may be talking the B2 Bomber up too much (?)...but I suspect that my delight in this beer is simply because drinking it was really a novel sensation. Rather than just another version of a tried-and-true style or a beefed-up "Imperial", it is something new. I honestly did not expect this "combination beer" to work so brilliantly, but my lack of faith has been shown the door, as I was left completely satisfied (and wanting more).

There is only one way this beer can be improved...and that's by making more of it!

I enjoyed this beer so much that I returned to Slowbeer and purchased the bottled version as well, which I may cellar to see how it performs over time.

Read more about the B2 Bomber on Australian Brews News at:

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Beer - Hargreaves Hill Stout

Over the past two nights I have enjoyed the Stout from Hargreaves Hill Brewing Company (VIC) both on tap and from a bottle, so surely that means a blog review is required!

My first taste of this beer happened on Tuesday night, after dinner with friends at the ever reliable and delicious Mrs Parmas. My wife and I ended the evening with a pot each of the Hargreaves Hill Stout, which was one of the featured Guest Taps.

The second taste was last night as I cracked the 330ml bottle of the stout that I bought from Slowbeer last weekend (whilst refilling my growler with the very enjoyable Dieu du Ciel Corne du Diable IPA).

*This review is essentially a combination of both the tap and bottled version, as I found both to be almost perfectly similar, although the stout was a tiny bit flatter and thinner from the bottle.*

A Foreign Export Stout in style, it is described by the brewer as possessing "some sweetness, some roasted malt character, but a deep, long and complex palate with hints of espresso, cigarbox, and couverture chocolate. Bitter with Goldings hops." I definitely agree with this description, although I did not find it necessarily "deep".

Pouring a beautiful dense black with a slight brown hue, there was only a little tan-coloured head, which reduced very quickly.

This beer has a wonderful strong aroma of roasted malts and coffee, with hints of dark fruit.

Relatively light in the mouth for a stout, it had a medium-to-light body and carbonation. For me, it could be a little thicker/deeper.

The taste is definitely the this beers strongest asset, with an excellent complexity of dark roasted malt, coffee, liquorice and those dark fruits.  The 6.7% alcohol is very well hidden, probably lost behind the excellent roasted malts and coffee flavour.

The finish on this beer is really very nice. A long lingering sweet-bitterness, which does not leave a rough afternote that many lesser Export Stouts will.

The Hargreaves Hill Stout is very easy drinking and I could quite comfortably drink several at once. It certainly leaves you immediately ready for another.

This is an excellent regular stout.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Beer - Blue Sky Brewery, Cairns

At the start of August, my fiancee and I flew up to Far North Queensland for our elopement wedding and honeymoon. On arrival at Cairns Airport, the day prior to our wedding, we parted ways as I headed to a motel in Cairns city for one night, whilst she went on to the resort where we would wed and honeymoon.

Therefore, my final night before starting married life was spent on my lonesome in a place I had never been before. It was also my first time visiting a location in Australia further north an Noosa, hence it was a new experience in "thirsty weather". Thankfully, I was well prepared with a plan for a solid night of craft beer exploration at the Blue Sky Brewery in central Cairns.

My first exposure to Blue Sky beers occurred during the 2010 Beer and Brewer Expo back in March, where I tried and enjoyed their Pilsner (which won Silver medal for a bottled Pilsner at the 2010 AIBA).

Arriving at the brewery for dinner, I found it quiet (not surprising for a Monday night) yet lively. The big open entry, with a hanging emblem of hops and barley, leads you to the great sight of a roof-high wall of barrels displaying the brewery's beer labels and the various AIBA medals won, with their taps funkily hanging over the bar.

The venue is dimly lit and very typical of what I classify as a "Queensland bar" - designed for watching sports, drinking and commercial Top40 music in a mostly open space (due to the heat), catering for all ages, with "hip party nights" aimed at the 18-30somethings (...not normally my scene).

The beers are also clearly brewed for the north Queensland climate - reasonably light, soft and sessionable - and therefore fairly different to the often rich and heavy craft beers that I am used to in my native cooler-climate Victoria.

Arriving from a wet 12 degree Melbourne morning, I had enjoyed a sunny 30 degree afternoon in Cairns and was very ready to quench my thirst. Therefore, I began with a pint of FNQ Lager, which was a very straightforward lager, yet cleaner and clearly a step above the lagers of macro-brewerys thanks to its smoothness. Definitely I had 2 pints. This is the XXXX replacement for the locals...and a valuable replacement it is!

A pint of FNQ Lager went down very easily.

Blue Sky Brewery also serve a mid-strength beer (Cairns Gold), which I did not try, but is essentially a reduced-alcohol version of the FNQ Lager...a common concept in the warmer parts of the country.

Most Victorians, such as myself, have generally been unaware of mid-strength beers until recent years when it became the unfortunate standard at major sporting events (primarily Carlton Mid-Strength) to try and quell alcohol induced bad-behavior at such events. Also, VB released a mid-strength variety (VB Gold) to compete with XXXX Gold when it started to gain visible distribution in Victoria a few years back. I'm still not sure if any Victorians drinks these mid-strength beers, we just don't have the weather and culture for it!

Back to Blue Sky Brewery...I thought their German Wheat was the best brew on offer. The Hefeweizen is a style that I have warmed to considerably over the last year and Blue Sky's was quite agreeable. Golden in colour, the aroma was rich with the classic Hefeweizen punch of banana and cloves. The banana flavour was maybe a little too strong and it was possibly lacking a little spiciness in the taste. Nonetheless, the German Wheat was most enjoyable following my meal.

Blue Sky Brewery German Wheat.

The food for fairly standard pub grub, but good beer food. After a bit of a hassel with the barman trying to find and process my order of the menu-listed "fungi burger" (he was unfamiliar with the particular item and it had a different name in their register system to what was on the menu), I eventually received my meal whilst drinking a pint of Reef Blonde, which was very crisp and had a good hop flavour for a low-carb beer, thanks to the Nelson Sauvin, but was a little too dry for me.

I enjoyed my mushroom burger, which was full of taste but the bun was a little sad.

Dinner - the fungi burger, chips and the Reef Blonde (low-carb beer which uses NZ's Nelson Sauvin hops)

I ended the my night out at Blue Sky with the True Blue Stout was just plain...confusing! In appearance it resembled...a Coke - very light brown and high in carbonation. The small brown head reduced very quickly to a bare few millimeters. In the mouth it was too light, with a texture that seemed watery and quite lager-ish. There were some mocha notes in the flavour, but the rest of the mix seemed too weak and off-balance.

This may well be a stout designed for easy drinking in the heat of Far North Queensland...but I really struggled to drink it.

And yes, I must admit that I have been spoiled during the recent Winter months in Melbourne by drinking many amazing dark, full bodied stouts from around Victoria and across the world. Therefore, after enjoying deliciously rich and well balanced stouts from the likes of Mountain Goat, Prickly Moses, BrewBoys (plus then all the crazy beautiful Imperial Stouts from brewers such as Moo Brew, Red Hill Brewery, Nøgne Ø, BrewDog, Dieu Du Ciel...) and more...I was left more than wanting after this brew. Maybe it needs special new style for it...a "Summer stout", maybe?

Is this a stout?

The beer menu and tasting notes. (Only 5 of the 9 listed were actually available on the night I was there.)

As with several other microbreweries around the country, the brewery itself is on display (through windows), which also includes a viewing window from inside the guys' you can stare into the brewery whilst peeing! Nifty...(?)!

Looking into the brewery (...this is not the view from inside the toilets!).

Considering the tourist nature of the region, it is a shame Blue Sky Brewery were not selling any merchandise. I would have loved a stubby holder to add to the collection of 8 other stubby holders I acquired during the honeymoon.

Whilst I felt that the Blue Sky beers were not quite yet in the class of the really excellent craft beers from down south, all in all, I enjoyed the beers and my time at Blue Sky Brewery, leaving fully satisfied.

If you are up in the Cairns region, I definitely recommend that you check it out...for something a little different. I will especially be highly recommending Blue Sky beers to any XXXX-drinking Queenslanders that I come across!

Oh...and the Blue Sky experience did not end there...

During my pre-wedding night in Cairns, I received a message from my bride informing me that the location of our wedding and honeymoon, the sensational Kewarra Beach Resort, also had the Blue Sky Brewery beers available on tap (the Blonde and Carins Gold) and in bottle (Pilsner and FNQ Lager). Brilliant! Being able to enjoy good beer throughout our delightful honeymoon, without having to leave the fairly isolated resort, was an unexpected bonus. Thanks Kewarra and Blue Sky!

Enjoying a late-afternoon Blue Sky Brewery Pilsner on the beach at the incredibly beautiful and romantic Kewarra Beach Resort.

The Pilsner made for very good beach drinking as the sun set behind the beautiful hills, towering just north of Kewarra Beach.

Finally, the consumption of Blue Sky beers even continued right to the point of boarding our return flight.

Yes, you will also find a Blue Sky Brewery bar in the Arrivals and Departures Lounge at the Cairns Airport, which is a wonderful way to wait for your flight...just don't drink too much, else you may not be allowed to board your flight! Cheers!

The Blue Sky Brewery bar at Cairns Airport.