The next day in Brisbane, we picked up our camper van. It was not straightforward of course because I did not write down the address of the rental company (stupid) before I left the hotel. I figured the taxi driver would know where it was. I was wrong of course. In the end, the fare was ever increasing as we got closer to the area I knew it to be and I decided to just get out and walk. The non English speaking taxi driver also could not figure out the money. First he short changed me by $15 and only gave me $5 change, when I pointed that out he handed me a $20 note and I then (me being honest) had to explain to him that I now owed him the $5 so I gave that to him. Taxi drivers in Brisbane, based on the three that I took, are rubbish. Out of the three, two could not speak English.
Anyway I left my wife at a bus stop and walked to the rental company, I knew where it was but I could not explain it to a non English speaking taxi driver. Eventually we set off for Hervey bay. Hervey bay was great, but there was no beer worth drinking, so I was introduced to Tooheys New and all the other pale yellow lagers. This was the purely vacation part of the trip. Whale watching , a day trip to Fraser Island etc. We then set off south for the trip to Sydney over the next few days.
Eventually we arrived in Port McQuarie for no other reason that it sounded like it would be a decent enough place to spend the night, there was a campsite and it was on the way. As it turned out, the campsite was excellent. It was located both right by the water, and right downtown. Unfortunately, from a beer perspective, Port McQuarie was a bit of a beer desert. In fact we walked most of the town centre and only found one bar in a hotel. From the outside it seemed rubbish but it was actually not too bad inside. We watched rugby and James Squire was on tap so I was relatively happy.
The only interesting thing was in the bottle shop called Cellarbrations. There was a few 6 packs of craft beer available, not a great selection but it was better than nothing but what was shocking was the cardboard sign on one of the shelves that said "Local Beer" and pointed to some beer from The Little Brewing Company. We grabbed a few of the beers and set off back to the campsite, but not before asking if he knew where the brewery was. He took out a map and marked it for us so that would be our destination tomorrow before we leave.
Wicked Elf Witbier was a standard American style, Belgian Wit. Better than Blue moon but not as good as a decent Belgian offering. It was almost like a cross between a pilsner and a witbier. Coriander and other spices complement the orange pith but never overcomes how watery the beer is. It was nice and refreshing but there is nothing interesting abut it. Then again, there rarely is with witbiers and it was full of flavour so overall, it was a very nice beer.
The pale ale on the other hand was a far more interesting beer. Orange marmalade and a strong caramel dominated the aroma. On tasting, a strong malt backbone complemented tropical fruit and bitter orange pith. A little grapefruit breaks through from the cascade. A rather lovely beer I thought.
The brewery was in an industrial estate located conveniently on the way out of town anyway. It would be rude not to pop in. They open from 9am so it was perfect timing and convenience when we arrived there about 9:15 or so. There was already a couple in the tasting room, how they found out about the place I am not sure as they were not in to beer. Before we left, another group came in so that's good going for the little brewery.
Inside there is a small bar with a few of their beers on tap. They charge for samples of course, but if you purchase a certain amount of beer, they waive that charge. Kylie Little was behind the bar and she was a great source of information about craft beer in Australia. I discovered that there is no proper tax differential between a craft brewer and a large brewer. Not unless you are dealing in quantities so small that you are essentially a homebrewer. They produce about 100,000 litres of beer a year and pay the same rate as a brewery that brews millions of litres per year. Kylie seems to be one step away from founding a lobby group to campaign for change. Despite the roadblocks, they are brewing at capacity and while nowhere locally will take their beer on tap, they do produce enough to sell to other parts of Australia.
It seems Oprah may have tasted their beers, they don't know for sure if she tried it herself did but it was certainly bought for a party she hosted and the have had a great response since then. You can't ask for better publicity when you are a small local brewery and the PR was worth paying for, so the fact they got paid for the beer is just amazing.
As a brewery tour goes, there is none. It's just a tasting area and you are not allowed to even take pictures of the brewery area for some reason. It is well worth a visit if you want to learn about the industry though as Kylie loves to talk about beer.
While there, they had two Belgian ales on. A tripel and a dubbel, both under the Mad Abbot name. They were both lovely beers, especially the tripel. I was able to buy a 6 pack of tripel but they were out of the dubbel, or possibly had not bottled it yet. I decided to leave note taking until I got stuck in to the 6 pack.
The tripel had an aroma that reminded me of a sticky caramel apple at Halloween. It almost tasted like it as well but a candy apple that had been soaked in alcohol first because it was pretty boozy. I also got a hint of tropical fruits come through.