When I recently put together a list of south-east Queensland breweries, one of our readers (h/t @andrewpholden) pointed out that the formerly Adelaide-based brewery, Beard and Brau, was in the process of relocating to our corner of the world. A couple of well timed emails later and we were invited out to Tamborine for a look.
The Beard and Brau Brewery was founded by Chris Herring (or ‘Fish’, as he likes to sign his emails) and Tanya Harlow in the suburbs of Adelaide. Their stainless steel kit was bought online during their honeymoon, shipped over from the States and brewing began in 2008. Chris’ CV includes stints as a food process engineer and general manager for a bottle cap manufacturer and now more or less brews full-time. Tanya is currently a business analyst for an energy retailer. Both have studied at the University of Ballarat, an institution which has turned out a number of Australia’s top brewers.
Their move from South Australia to the banks of the Albert River was predicated in part by a promotion for Tanya, which would require relocation to Brisbane, and a desire to seek a rural lifestyle attainable at a reasonable cost. That was a little while ago – over two years, in fact – and plumbing approval for the brewery finally arrived last Tuesday. Between dealing with the intricacies of the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2002, the Byzantine nature of the local council and quality issues with contract brewers who were meant to bridge the gap, it’s been a long, painful and expensive road from Adelaide to the foot of Mount Tamborine. “It’s a lot like being back at square one,” observed Chris.
At their nadir, our protagonists were inspired to press on by a bottle of Rogue Dirtoir, a beer whose credo shares much in common with Beard & Brau’s. Chris and Tanya are aiming to brew sustainably and as self-sufficiently as possible. “We’re not in it to make a million bucks,” Chris noted more than once. The by-word is “farmhouse”. This means an emphasis on sustainability, on community and on self-sufficiency (you know, like a farm).
The brewery is crowned with solar panels which supplement the mains power, the only connection the brewery has to the infrastructure in the street. The water that goes into the beer comes entirely from what falls out of the sky and onto the roof. Both brewers are volunteers in the local fire service. Future plans include growing a couple of acres of barley and processing it with a mini-maltster. It’s a concept which adds a degree of diversity to the “commercial craft” operations – as Chris likes to call them – which make up the majority of the small-scale scene in SEQ.
And the beers? I have previously had Black Snout, a milk stout, as a post-Stout Day treat at The Scratch. I didn’t even realise that until I checked my Untappd list. To be fair, their primary market was Adelaide, with some distribution through the other southern states, New Zealand and Japan.
I was given a bottle of Golden Paw, a Californian steam ale similar to Anchor Steam, to peruse. It closely mimics the American beer and makes for a pleasant golden ale. I was also given a sample of India Mastiff Ale*, seen on the right, straight from the tank. At 90 IBU and 8%, the dryness and the bitterness will put hairs on your chest. This is their regular IPA.
So if you’re a keen supporter of local and sustainable brewing, I hear that another keg from Beard and Brau will soon be available at The Scratch. Hopefully, we’ll be seeing bottles on our local bottleshop shelves soon.
*As you may have guessed, there’s a running doggy theme here.