Drunken Speculation

SEQBeers – Fortitude Brewing Co / Noisy Minor Brewing Co

Fortitude-BrewingFortitude Brewing Co pulled together three disparate strings – Ian Watson, Ged Connors and Jim O’Connor – in 2012 to form a new south-east Queensland brewery based at Eagle Heights, on the side of Mount Tamborine, first producing beer from their tiny facility in 2013.

Ian has a long history in the Australian beer industry: the country’s first beer sommelier at the Spotted Cow in Toowoomba, former brewer at Murrays and chief judge of beer and cider at the Royal Queensland Food & Wine Show. He’s also the guy that taught me about oxidation – I get it now – and the main reason I now own a keg.

Ged is a doctor and homebrewer turned professional. Jim is the money man with a background in accounting and now, it seems, just generally business-ing. He told us at Fluid Festival that he doesn’t know a lot about making beer.

Recently, some big changes have been afoot. One is that MT Brewery is no more, probably the first brewery “closure” (the brewery is still operational but the MT brand is gone) in SEQ since the brewery at Oxford 152 quit in 2006*. Fortitude bought the facility and moved in. This means a greatly enlarged capacity, proper cellar doors and the slim hope of keeping up with demand.

The second is the hiring of former Holgate man, Dan Rawlings. As anyone with an eye for beer in Brisbane will be able to attest, over the period of 12 months, Holgate beers went from nothing to being everywhere, suburban bottleshops included. This is testament to Dan’s sales abilities (he can brew as well I believe) and he’ll be the main man leading Fortitude’s expansion.

So today’s SEQBeers (bet you thought I’d forgotten about it) features the brewery that now sits on top of the Mountain. They’ve only been here a short time but they’ve made a welcome impact on the local scene.

fortitude goldenGolden Ale

  • Golden ale
  • 4.3%
  • Refreshment: B
  • Identity: D
  • Taste: B
  • Ancillaries: B
  • SEQBeers Score: 70

Fortitude’s core range is built on fairly “boring” styles of beer – the “Standard” Lager, which is worth a crack if you’re one of those people who tries to convert non-beer friends, and the Golden Ale.

Pictured here at the Pig & Whistle as the first beer on a 35°C January day, the Golden Ale does what it says on the label. It’s refreshing, tasty but not particularly exciting nor at a great risk of offending anyone. There’s a light hoppy aroma, a bit of a thin body contrasted with sweet malt and a bitter aftertaste. A gentle introduction would be an appropriate way of describing it and, along with the lager, a well recognised style that won’t offend.

fortitude summer light burgerSummer Light

  • Light ale
  • 2.8%
  • Refreshment: A-
  • Identity: D
  • Taste: B+
  • Ancillaries: B
  • SEQBeers Score: 75

Yeah, it’s in the back there, behind the roast beef roll from our Five Flavours experience at Riverlife which, for disclosure purposes, we attended gratis thanks to Fortitude.

I’ve had two really contrasting experiences with this beer. The first, at the Archive, I think was so hoppy that my tongue was overwhelmed and started sending signals about sourness and saltiness, which under normal circumstances, wouldn’t be present. The second, at Five Flavours, was much more in balance and in line with my expectations – a light malt backbone which is over-hopped with bitterness and aroma, as a good light beer should be to keep your interest. Both ammo and I quite like this beer (for me, based on my second experience) and I think when we make our way to the new cellar doors, unless the next beer is on tap, we’ll be taking this one home in a growler.

fortitude sparklingLanfear’s Select 1913 Sparkling Ale

  • Australian pale ale
  • 5.3%
  • Refreshment: B
  • Identity: A+
  • Taste: A-
  • Ancillaries: B
  • SEQBeers Score: 84 

The backstory is that the Fortitude boys created a recipe to mimic an older style pale ale to commemorate the closing of West End Brewery a hundred years prior. It’s named for the famous brewing brothers behind the brewery (also briefly serving at Bulimba), so yes, all of the identity points are awarded.

The beer itself is that lovely mix of malt and bitter hops that can only come from a proper non-American pale ale, executed well and served fresh. This is one of my favourite SEQBeers and it’s so disappointing that they seemed to make one batch and then no more. It’s still listed on their website, so there’s still hope it’ll return.

noisy minorA quick note on Noisy Minor Brewing Co. This sub-brand distinguishes itself from the core range with a tendency towards the experimental: beers based on the Negroni cocktail and rogan josh curry along with more standard American IPAs and Baltic porters. Noisy Minor’s “Ukrainian” Imperial Stout (note: not a real style) Yastrebov achieved 50th in the most recent Hottest 100, thanks in very small part to the #voteyastrebov campaign. We attended the Noisy Minor Shout (disclosure: free of charge and we got free shirts!) earlier this year and were given some great insight into the full range of brewing creativity these guys have. Keep an eye out for the grey bird on a bright yellow decal because it means something challenging and often tasty.

*There was apparently a brief fling with brewing at the Regatta Hotel in 2008 but I was going to that pub frequently in ’08 and don’t recall that at all. Funny that.


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