Eagle Heights, a quaint suburb on Tamborine Mountain in south east Queensland, is home to the Gold Coast hinterland’s oldest standing church. Today, with Fortitude Brewing Co and raucous little sibling Noisy Minor attracting a swelling congregation of beer lovers well beyond Queensland, there’s quite clearly another religion in town: that of great beer.
Once home to Mt Tamborine Brewery, the building has one of the grandest, most welcoming entrances of any in Australia, one that draws visitors up the mountain towards a full production, 24hL brewery. It has been home to the Fortitude team since early 2014 – two years after the company’s inception by Ged Connors, Jim O’Connor and head brewer Ian Watson, who had once brewed for the site's former occupant before spending time at the likes of Murray's in New South Wales.
The mountaintop site is actually one of two homes for the brewery, which originally produced its beers at the tiny, 500 litre, former Eagle Heights Brewery less than a kilometre away. But, pretty much from the get go, the demand for beers from Fortitude and Noisy Minor has grown so fast that capacity at the smaller brewery quickly reached breaking point and, by the start of 2015, the owners were already making contingency plans for when they need to expand the bigger brewery too. While the latter focuses on producing Fortitude's range of approachable craft beers and the more popular drops from Noisy Minor, the smaller brewery produces test brews and small batch releases.
Within the cavernous space of their main dwelling visitors can also call into a cheese production facility and shop as well as a bistro with scenic, leafy views. But it's Fortitude’s Cellar Door that's the real focal point, boasting 15 taps each pouring something different from the enormous range of Fortitude and Noisy Minor beers. For anyone that can't get through them all – or who can't get enough – filled growlers are available for takeaway.
Peckish visitors can lay their hands on a variety of made-to-order pizzas to munch on while working their way through a tasting paddle or two. Meanwhile, soulful tunes emanating from musicians will only enhance patrons’ ability to while away a relaxing afternoon in the adjoining beer garden.
Outside the cellar door, Fortitude’s consistent production of flavoursome and highly approachable beers gained them quite a reputation and following firstly in their native Queensland and then from interstate bars and craft beer fans alike: in 2014, three of its beers notched spots within the top 15 of 2014’s Hottest 100 Australian Craft Beers poll; the Noisy Minor ANZUS IPA even commanded a spot inside the top ten – the highest ever ranking for beer brewed at a Queensland based brewery.
With demand for wholesale draught increasing and packaged beer arriving in 2015, Fortitude Brewing Co.’s motto In Cerevisia Fortitudo (In Beer Is Strength) is certainly ringing true.