Drunken Speculation

SEQBeers – Sunshine Coast Brewery / Brewbake

sunnycoastbrewbakelogos

I wrote about these two breweries in the Sunshine Coast Microbrewery Microtour in the middle of last year. With another six month’s beer experience under our belts, it was time to re-assess these two outfits for SEQBeers.

The first, the Sunshine Coast Brewery, was founded in 1998 and was an early success, scoring gold medals at the Australian International Beer Awards. A change of ownership in 2006 led to a change in the Sunny Coast line up, with a greater focus on “on traditional beer styles and “New World” craft beer interpretations”, and still more AIBA medals, culminating in the 2009 Champion Reduced Alcohol Beer for their Summer Ale.

I’ve paid a couple of visits to the brewery but our most recent visit last week was the first time that the chairs weren’t up on tables and there were other people there, which noticeably improved the ambience. It might be unfair to say it was a surprise, but the menu is simple, cheap and offers great tasting food. I’m still not personally sold on the merits of all of their beers – Rye ESB aside – but we shall see if a champagne flute and a relaxing view over the Sunshine Coast hinterland improves my opinion.

Sunshine Coast SummerSunshine Coast Summer Ale

  • Golden ale
  • 3.5%
  • Refreshment: B
  • Identity: C+
  • Taste: C+
  • Ancillaries: B
  • SEQBeers Score: 70

I first came across this beer on my first visit to Tippler’s Tap. I regretted my purchase, which was rushed by the sheer number of people around me, because it reminded me too much of industrial lager.

Summer Ale, however, seemed too perfect for this series not to try again but my expectations were low. It’s a deep gold colour with good white head and carbonation. There’s an intriguing aroma of tasty hops (Simcoe and Amarillo, helpfully named on the label) overlaid with sticky sweet malt. Unfortunately, there’s a limited depth of flavour, ultimately ending in a wet (i.e. not dry) finish.

Some marks for identity thanks to the name of the brewery, local landmark the Glasshouse Mountains on the label and offering a summery beer in the aftermath of a nasty heatwave.

Sunshine Coast Best BitterSunshine Coast Best Bitter

  • English pale ale
  • 4.6%
  • Refreshment: C
  • Identity: C-
  • Taste: B+
  • Ancillaries: B
  • SEQBeers Score: 63

I’ve previously found Sunny Coast’s Best Bitter to be quite similar to the Rye ESB for obvious reasons but somewhat deficient in comparative character.

Best Bitter is a traditional English pale ale with a brown colour, appealling malty smell but with less appealling toffee tones lying underneath. The flavour dimension is not deep. Malt caramel backbone supports a solid bitter hop finish with some dryness. It’s better served a bit warmer than I’d care for a beer in this weather.

Sunshine Coast PilsnerSunshine Coast Pilsner

  • Pilsner
  • 4.5%
  • Refreshment: B+
  • Identity: C
  • Taste: C
  • Ancillaries: C
  • SEQBeers Score: 67

Sometimes known as Czech Mate or, if you’re at the Badger’s Firkin in Flaxton, Firkin Pilsner, the Sunshine Coast Pilsner is a soft yellow colour and has been filtered clear. There’s barely a trace of aroma. The pilsner has a mild malt profile with traces of wheat detectable and a soft mouthfeel. I find the selection of Kiwi hops (Nelson Sauvin and Motueka), in lieu of the traditional noble Czech hops, to be an interesting direction to take the beer but unfortunately, the hops offer a relatively muted white wine flavour with a soft bitter finish. At home, I tried a second bottle and found the head to be much better than what is displayed in the photo but the retention is minimal.

Established in the middle of 2013 after encountering delays due to Queensland’s charming licencing regulations, Brewbake’s first three beers sold out so fast that when I went up two weeks after opening, brewer Hayden Mokaraka only had pale ale to offer me.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure if Brewbake were still in operation when I started this series (turns out Facebook is the place to be to get regular updates). Fortunately, they’re still pouring beers at the Big Pineapple, so ammo and I went and had a look when we were in the area.

One of the two big improvements Brewbake has made is getting on top of demand. When we arrived, we had a choice of pale, golden and brown ales – all under 5% ABV, as lower strength beers are something of a specialty. For the purposes of this post, I swapped out my old dodgy squealer and got a brand new one with sixty millilitres extra capacity and thicker glass at no cost. The pale ale in the squealer set me back $10.

The other improvement is the addition – which perhaps was always there – of an outdoor balcony. Although the palm frond shade could use some TLC, it at least offers respite from the stuffy interior of the Big Pineapple markets.

Brewbake paleBrewbake Pale Ale

  • Australian pale ale
  • 3.7%
  • Refreshment: A-
  • Identity: D
  • Taste: C
  • Ancillaries: B
  • SEQBeers Score: 65

Brewbake Pale Ale is a very light yellow colour with a hint of cloudiness. It has a thin body, verging on the watery, which if nothing else gets good points on the refreshment front. There’s a light hop aroma but strong overtones of honey in the aroma. The flavour is dominated by the honey and finishes with a mild bitterness. For the record, ammo reads the “honey” flavour as “toffee” but as far as I know, it’s lingering unfermented malt.

Identity score is low for obvious reasons. My suggestion for something different: dry hop with pineapple and call it the Big Pineapple Pale Ale. You can’t go wrong with that!

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