For a small town in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, Eumundi’s name is surprisingly well known. People come from far and wide for its massive twice-weekly markets, where vivid artworks, handcrafted textiles, sustainable goods and alternative remedies are available as far as the eye can see.
The artistic community thrives in the bohemian, stress-free vibe of Eumundi, and pours creativity into every square inch of the town. Natural beauty abounds in the immediate area in the form of towering eucalypt forests and pockets of rainforest, and yet it’s only a twenty minute drive to sprawling beaches.
Adding to its appeal, in 2017, a long-dormant facet of Eumundi’s reputation returned to the town, as the Eumundi Brewery was reborn after 25 years.
Eumundi Brewery’s life began in 1988 in the Imperial Hotel, but the rapid growth of Eumundi Lager saw the brand purchased by CUB and brewing moved offsite after just four years, leaving the brewery defunct. Brewing of Eumundi Lager ceased altogether in 2004, but current owner Lion resurrected the brewery in its spiritual home in a joint venture with the Imperial Hotel.
“Eumundi’s a unique place,” says head brewer Chris Sheehan. “There’s nowhere else like it, whether you live here or not. There’s a real creative sense here, and the people are free thinkers.”
With the financial backing of Lion, and the blessing of Brewmaster Chuck Hahn, Chris and his team went about bringing the heart of Eumundi Brewery back to Eumundi. They reached out to locals to provide artwork for the brewery and venue; they partnered with the hotel owners to tell the history of the local area, the hotel, the brewery, and the beer; and they gathered the brewers of the Sunshine Coast to network, help each other out, and join together to boost the profile of locally made beer. And, though there are plans to distribute farther than the local area, Chris sees the Eumundi and Sunshine Coast community as his first priority.
As for the beers themselves, the idea is to focus on lagers and pale ales – beers that suit the climate and lifestyle of the area. The focus on approachable styles is also an attempt to act as a welcome mat for people who may not have had much experience with beer.
In the way of core range, the brewery laid the foundation with a late-hopped Refreshing Lager, which is miles away from the Eumundi Lager of the 80s and 90s while keeping the spirit of an uncomplicated and relaxing drinking experience; alongside that is a mid-strength Australian pale ale that brings something extra to the usual passionfruit bomb.
Add to this a seasonal release every month or so, with the aim of introducing local fruits and botanicals to some of the brews – the Ginger Pale Ale, made with ginger grown just down the road, for example.
While the core range beers are packaged (the lager in stubbies, the pale ale in tinnies), there’s no better place to drink Eumundi’s brews than on-site at the Imperial Hotel Eumundi. For starters, the lager and pale ale taps are hooked up to serving tanks in the brewery; while the average punter may not see the tanks, or even know they’re there, Eumundi Brewery is keen for drinkers to taste the beer as fresh as it gets. Tasting the brewery’s range at the source also gives you access to a little bonus; the tasting “paddles” here are actually tasting logs, a hat tip to Eumundi’s past life as an old timber town.
The hotel itself adds a whole other dimension to the experience. It’s a good ol’ fashioned Queensland pub with a corrugated iron roof, a wraparound verandah looking over the leafy surrounds, and a host of fiercely loyal regulars. The Imperial looks, feels and smells like the past, which makes sense when you consider that it’s more than 100 years old. (Technically, it was originally built in 1911, only to burn down in 1926… but it was promptly rebuilt exactly the same. This town had no desire to live without a pub.)
Get a taste of history by drinking a lager on the breezy verandah, or inside the pub next to the gallery of photos and old Eumundi Brewery memorabilia. Or enjoy the quirkier side of Eumundi with a Pale Ale in the artsy beer garden, immersed in greenery and hand-painted murals.
It’s a new brewery that’s replacing an older brewery in an old pub that’s actually a newer version of an even older pub. It’s in a town that’s kind of rural, kind of in a forest, and kind of near the beach. Get a tasting paddle that isn’t a paddle, pick up your beer with ginger that isn’t a ginger beer, and, as Chuck would suggest, “slam it down slowly”.
Eumundi. There’s nowhere else like it.