Ask people why they moved to the Sunshine Coast, and more tham a few of them will say: “For the lifestyle.” Perhaps they were sick of working too much, or always feeling busy and in a rush, or not taking enough time to slow down and enjoy their life.
Land & Sea is a brewery all about the balanced life. You work hard, and you play hard. You get hot, and you cool down. You build up a sweat, and you wind down with a beer. (And if you occasionally play and relax more than you work, that’s alright: Noosa is a famous holiday destination, after all.)
No one appreciates the balanced philosophy of Land & Sea more than head brewer Shane Fairweather. As someone who made the move from Canada via New Zealand to brew in Noosa (and brought the perfect surname with him), he definitely recognises how special the Queensland sunshine and Sunny Coast lifestyle are.
“I got into surfing pretty quick,” he says. “Just embraced the ethos the brewery speaks. Someone’s gotta do it, and I’m the one to put in the hard yards.”
Shane’s been head brewer at Land & Sea since before it opened at the start of 2018, so he’s the one to credit for the easygoing core range and varied limited releases.
“All the [core range] beers were designed to be perfect after a hard day’s work or fun in the sun. They’re all very approachable, sessionable styles.”
That describes the crisp Japanese Rice Lager and the helles-style Lager; the Socializer mid-strength Aussie pale and the almost copper-coloured First Point Pale; the Juicebox IPA, an East Coast style hazy that’s almost too drinkable for its own good, and the seasonal fruited sour that keeps the ABV low and the refreshment high.
The tinnies themselves carry the essence of Land & Sea as well. On the front there’s the rustic yet refined logo: a linocut image of the Noosa headland as seen from Double Island. On the side you’ll find instructions for how to make a fishing hook, or a recipe for campfire damper or beer batter.
Then there’s also the yellow-and-red cans of Noosa Beer, Land & Sea’s sister brand. The classic branding evokes 1970s draught beer in an Aussie pub, and harks back to simpler times.
Of course, there’s also the option of drinking Land & Sea (or Noosa Beer) at the source, and it’s a damn fine option. In the taproom, polished concrete and stainless steel hint at the industrial, while hardwood panelling, hanging plants and abundant natural light give an organic feel. A full third of the venue is outdoor patio space, but to be honest, the whole venue feels open and airy; when the bifold doors are open, there’s an indoor-outdoor vibe to the place.
And no, your eyes aren’t deceiving you: those are indeed classic Honda motorbikes on the gangway above the bar. Purely because they’re awesome.
When it comes to food, there’s a short but solid menu. You can get crackin’ pub grub – a burger, parmi, schnitty or fish and chips – or you can change it up with Italian BBQ pork ribs or Asian duck salad. And there’s onion rings. As I always say: you see onion rings, you get onion rings. (A dangerous motto, perhaps, but a correct one.)
Did I mention how big the place it? In Noosa, where space is at a premium, there’s something special about a brewery that can fit 180 people. Bring the crew. Bring the family. Bring the dog. There’s room for everyone.
Sometimes you want to have an 80-person function with a private bar. And sometimes you just want to meet friends on a Sunday arvo somewhere where you’re guaranteed to find a table. Land & Sea is good for both.
“We’re a place for all people,” says Shane. “We’re not geared towards the beer geeks, or just lager drinkers. There’s a piece of everything for everyone.”
When you’re in the taproom, you can’t help but notice racks of wooden barrels lining the wall. Give them a knock: they’re full of whisky, slowly maturing for years in the patient oak. That’s because a year after installing the brewery, the crew installed a distillery as well. Noosa Gin has a label like an Australiana tea towel and botanicals like Valencia oranges, sugar cane, green mango and hibiscus bringing a Queensland feel, with the same brand also including a strawberry gin made with local strawberries, barrel-aged gin, and vodka. Meanwhile, the aforementioned single malt whisky will be released under the Noosa Heads Distillery label… in its own time.
Having a distillery and brewery under the same roof gives the team a chance to play, with some of the creations including barrel-aged gose and injecting Juicebox IPA with Noosa Gin to make Gin & Juice. It also means the Saturday tours are more than just brewery tours: they’re brewery and distillery tours. The 90 minute experience includes a tailored exploration of both sides of the production, along with four beers and three spirits to taste. A good time for everybody.
To keep the good times going long term, living a balanced life includes seeing yourself as part of an ecosystem. At Land & Sea, they don’t just want to take, take, take. They think about the environment they live and work in with each decision they make.
With 80 solar panels on the roof, the brewery’s electricity usage is largely supported by the Queensland sun. Rather than dumping their brewing waste, it all goes out to a local farmer: spent grain, hops, yeast and all. And Land & Sea only use small batch Australian malt from Voyager Craft Malt, which means supporting an independent and local producer that happens to be one of the most sustainable craft malthouses in the world.
“We want to be super approachable and honest to our local area – looking after our regulars and this beautiful place we call home, which is the Sunshine Coast and Noosa Heads,“ Shane says.
“The whole place is so incredible and we’re just so happy to be here working and living in this part of the world.”
When a brewery has a great venue in such a gorgeous part of the world, it’s hard to decide if the beer is better drunk fresh at the brewery with an acoustic guitar playing in the background and the buzz of happy locals… or whether a serene ocean tinnie is the way to go.
But hey, in the name of living a balanced life, why not do both?