Many of Australia's microbreweries are blessed with idyllic locations. But can any rival Matso's?
For a start, it's located in the otherworldly tropical paradise that is Broome. Then you've got the views across the turquoise waters of the bay, the heritage-listed, striking former Union Bank building that it calls home, the large verandah and a huge expanse of courtyard... Well, you get the message. And we haven't even got to the fact that in this permanently warm climate, it's got the best beers in town for slaking your thirst.
They're beers that reflect the location too, frequently fruity and often showcasing ingredients that the region is famed for. Perhaps best known is Matso's Ginger Beer, one that predates most on the market and offers plenty of bite, so much so you'll find it hard to believe it weighs in at just 3.5 percent ABV. Speaking of bite, they're not averse to throwing chilli into beer either, not to mention various other native ingredients when the mood takes them.
As for the business behind the beers, Matso's first opened as a brewpub and restaurant in 1997 – the brainchild of 12 investors based in Perth. When their venture didn't take off as planned, it opened the door for Martin and Kim Peirson-Jones, whose family had built 60 4.5-star self contained apartments across the road from the brewpub and restaurant, to step in. They set about restoring it and, in 2003, added the unique on-site brewery - unique because they were unable to alter the structure in any way so had to have it designed to fit the existing space – and tripled on-site production.
Soon, however, with the beers finding fans across Australia, they hit capacity again and started having their most popular beers brewed offsite, a move that, while the owners didn't know it at the time, would lead to arguably the biggest change in the business more than a decade later.
Matso's brewing partner was Gage Roads and, over time, the vast majority of beer bearing the Broome operation's name has been brewed at the Palmyra brewery. Thus, when Gage Roads decided to expand and bring new brands into the business, the first acquisition was Matso's – which you can read about here.
It means Matso's now comes under the Good Drinks banner, one that's likely to welcome more beer and beverage brands over time. At the same time, the Peirson-Jones family continues to operate the Broome venue under license. So, while the Good Drinks team looks to bring the likes of the Ginger, Mango and Chilli beers to the country, visitors to the restaurant will still find small batch releases on tap to sample alongside a menu sprinkled with plenty of fresh fish and the odd curry dish.