In what will be a recurring theme this and next week, I’m going to look for the most suitable beer for life in south-east Queensland. The beer I’m looking for has to be locally made, refreshing and relevant to the Sunshine State.
My reasons for doing this are as indubitable as they are extant (my thesaurus is broken).
Firstly, in 2013, ammo and I wrote about many beers from Victoria and NSW with too few – and not the best ones at that – from Queensland breweries. Given the recent growth in the local beer scene, I’d like to correct that. (I would include the whole state but I rarely leave the south-east corner)
Secondly, I wanted to create a semi-historical record of the local brewing industry in 2014, which can be updated as more beers and breweries come online, separate from our more formal review process.
Finally, it’s summer and it’s hot. A cold beer always sounds good in that situation.
As a first pass, I thought I’d limit this exercise to beers brewed within the boundaries of the Brisbane local government area. Disappointingly, this limited me to All Inn Brewing, XXXX and four brewpubs.
Wanting to include the more interesting local breweries, I expanded the scope to cover the south-east corner of Queensland, including the local government areas of Brisbane, Ipswich, Moreton Bay, Sunshine Coast, Logan, Scenic Rim, Gold Coast, Redlands, Logan, Somerset and the Lockyer Valley. This gives a more diverse list:
- All Inn Brewing Co – Banyo, Brisbane
- Bacchus Brewing – Capalaba, Redland City
- Brisbane Brewing Co (Brewhouse) – Albion, Brisbane
- Burleigh Brewing – Burleigh, Gold Coast
- Carlton & United Breweries – Yatala, Gold Coast
- Castlemaine Perkins (XXXX) – Milton, Brisbane
- Fortitude Brewing Co – Eagle Heights, Scenic Rim
- Green Beacon Brewery – Teneriffe, Brisbane
- International Hotel – Spring Hill, Brisbane
- MT Brewery – Tamborine North, Scenic Rim
- Newstead Brewing Co – Newstead, Brisbane
- Sunshine Coast Brewery – Kunda Park, Sunshine Coast
- 4 Hearts Brewing – Capalaba, Redland City
I toyed with the idea of a tournament, using three beers from each brewery, but that has a number of logistical issues, not least that it would be difficult to follow and the result would likely be pre-determined in the first round.
Instead, I’ve opted for a report card format where three beers from each brewery is assessed against the criteria which I feel best represents the needs of the SEQ drinking public. Each beer will be given a SEQBeer score out of 100, with the higher scores more closely meeting the criteria.
Given the number of breweries and the difficulty obtaining some of their beers, it is likely that this will take a few months to get three beers from each brewery on the board, so the series will progress over however long it takes. It almost goes without saying that if I’ve missed a brewery, let me know in the comments.
It is important to remember that this is not the search for the best beer made in south-east Queensland. The criteria is a focal point for the writing, as much as anything else. The alternative is 4000 words per brewery about how terrible/awesome it is.
When I spoke to ammo about these particular set of criteria, she told me that I couldn’t do it this way because XXXX would win. The point of this exercise is not to pre-suppose a “winner” but to explore the beers made in the region. If XXXX gets up, so be it.
Therefore, the grades and scores used are not an indictment on the brewers for their design or marketing decisions but rather how the beers stack up against my arbitrary criteria for what makes a beer suitable to this part of the world.
Refreshment (40 points)
It’s said that Brisbane doesn’t have seasons. That’s not true: there’s nine months of summer (hot and humid) and three months of winter (cool and dry), with transitional periods between the two generally lasting 48 hours.
In a climate where the temperature, even in the middle of winter, will still break the low 20s (70s F) during the day, keeping cool and hydrated is critical to functioning as a productive human being. The best beer for SEQ must place a high emphasis on this.
Taste (30 points)
Tastiness in a beer is always important. If the beer tastes foul, why would you want to drink more of it? That’s not a positive way to stay hydrated (refer above).
As we’ve covered a few times now, and permanently on the About page, this is going to be subject to the subjectivity of my palate. Where possible, I will let other people who happen to be sharing the beer with me influence my opinion.
Identity (20 points)
The “Identity” criteria is really an assessment of the parochiality of the beer’s marketing. I’ve taken into account the name, the label, the tap handle decal, the backstory and any other advertising to judge how much of a Queenslander the beer really is. For this criterion, I’m not going to distinguish between the south-east corner and the rest of the state, unless the beer copy does with bonus points for emphasis on Brisbane.
I would prefer to assess Queensland-style beers but there’s nothing about this part of the world that impacts on the character of local beers. To put it another way, any beer made here could be replicated anywhere else on the planet, so judging a beer on it’s local identity really comes down to the above.
Ancillaries (10 points)
What we would normally call the ancillaries in a review, this criterion covers the non-taste aspects of the beer. Is it appealing to the eye/nose/mouth?
The SEQBeers series begins tomorrow with the newest south-east brewery, Newstead Brewing Co.
Per the comments below, the following breweries are being added to the list:
It’s also come to my attention since this was first posted that Red Bay are now offering beers commercially, so they’re also fair game.
Contract brewers in the area will be dealt with on an ad hoc basis, excepting 4 Hearts, which we understand will be running their own equipment in late 2014.