The Sunshine Coast is known for many things: a beautiful climate, stunning beaches, great surf, its spectacular Hinterland. If you're heading there as a family, there's Australia Zoo, the Big Pineapple and the odd theme park to keep you entertained. Heck, thanks to the Russell Crowe's jockstrap and the plight of Blockbuster stores in Alaska, there's even a koala chlamydia treatment ward named after the British host of a popular American TV show.
Yet, for all that diversity, it's not a part of the world you would readily associate with beer – at least, not craft beer. However, perhaps you should. While its southern relation, the Gold Coast, has been garnering plenty of attention in beer circles for a few years now, as the region's pioneers Burleigh Brewing have been joined by the likes of Black Hops, Balter and more besides, the Sunshine Coast has been undergoing a quieter, but no less dramatic transformation.
As Josh Donohoe, who runs craft beer tours of the region, points out, when he moved to the Coast from Sydney in 2015 there was a single Sunshine Coast brewery: Sunshine Coast Brewery. Today, you'll find a few around Noosa, more dotted along the coast and others found on the winding roads of the Hinterland. The landscape has been changing so fast, one has even opened and closed in that time too.
In May 2018, we figured it was time we gave the region a Beer Travel guide of its own. Just a year on, there's been so much more activity, it's time to launch an updated and expanded version, starting in the upper end of the region.
Land & Sea
Noosa Beer Company’s Land and Sea Brewery is located on a corner block in an industrial area of Noosaville, opening its enormous bi-fold doors to the public in January 2018. Via a combination of an impressive 18 hectolitre brewhouse and smaller pilot systems, they produce a range of ten beers on tap, which sit alongside two guest taps.
The brewery, bar and restaurant have quickly become a hit with locals for obvious reasons. The venue itself is stunning and a credit to part owner and former product designer Tim Crabtree and his team. A seamless transition from outside to inside sees you enter a bar area where vintage motorbikes adorn the mezzanine level above. Light floods in from all sides, filling the huge space with a welcoming warmth while, past the bar area, the call of the shiny tanks is strong and, like a moth to a flame, you are drawn to have a closer look. Thankfully, there's a funky barrier of stacked kegs and timber to stop stray onlookers getting too close to the action.
If you are looking for a brewery that produces extravagant beers that push the boundary, you’ve come to the wrong place. Instead, the beers at Land & Sea are unashamedly designed to reflect the laid-back Noosa lifestyle. Most are under 5 percent ABV and don’t stray too far from style guidelines with their most popular beer the lager like Coastie Common.
Open all week from 7am to 11pm at 19 Venture Drive, Noosaville.
Heads of Noosa
Noosa’s long been known for its natural beauty, surf culture and pulsing nightlife, but it’s rapidly developing an equally strong reputation for its quality food and drink offerings. The industrial area just ten minutes from Hastings Street is now home to two breweries, the newer of which has grand ambitions to pump local beer through the veins of Noosa.
Standing tall behind the Noosa Civic Centre is Heads of Noosa, a brewery that specialises in lagers of all kinds. The “L” word spent a few years in the doghouse while the craft beer movement was blossoming, but the Australian independent beer scene is beginning to welcome it back with open arms. And what better place than Noosa Heads for a brewery whose sole focus is to explore the breadth and depth of lagers? The warmth of Queensland, the beauty of the Sunshine Coast, and the rising demand for better quality beer in Noosa make it the ideal time and place for such a brewery.
Approach Heads of Noosa to find a spacious and inviting taproom with a clean, modern aesthetic: white tiled walls, a white marble bar top, expansive polished concrete floors, and the words “BREW IT”, “DRINK IT” and “ENJOY IT” laser cut into the matte black steel of the bar tables. If you usually drink whatever goes down the easiest, go for the Japanese Lager, which cuts through the Noosa climate like a hot katana through butter. If you’re more of an ale person, try the Summer Dusk, with its rosy hue and a malt complexity that reveals itself like the first stars after sunset.
Along one wall of the taproom is a full-length viewing window that looks into the brewery itself. You don’t have to be an expert to recognise that this is a sizeable operation; the 100hL fermenters tower above you, at a scale to challenge the rocky headlands after which the brewery is named. If you’re lucky enough to be around at brewery tour time, you’ll get the opportunity chat with the owners about their big tanks and big plans, check out one of the most amped-up pilot systems around, and gawk at a bottling line with more gears than every vehicle in Mad Max. MW
Heads of Noosa is at 85 Rene Street, Noosaville. The taproom is open Friday to Sunday, so head in and settle in for a session of lagers and local seafood.
Copperhead Restaurant and Brewery
Copperhead is the brainchild of Jason and Sharon Cox, who launched their brewery/restaurant in August 2017. Situated in the quiet Hinterland town of Cooroy, often seen as a gateway to Noosa, Copperhead has provided a destination for locals to call their own. Visitors to the region are quickly discovering why it has become so popular so quickly too.
The layout is classically industrial: exposed brickwork and timber, polished concrete floor and copper pipes, with the owners able to open the front of the venue to allow in light and cooling breezes. Armed with a 200 litre Braumeister, Jason produces a surprisingly diverse range of ten beers, seven of them regulars and three rotating seasonally.
Drinking on an empty stomach is never a good idea and the focus on food as well as beer sees the Copperhead kitchen delivers some of the best food of all the breweries on the coast. Even if you're only stopping in to sample a tasting paddle, be like Molly and do yourself a favour by ordering one of their small plates or check out the larger Copperhead plate, a charcuterie board of cured meats, terrines and an exquisite stout and onion jam.
Open all week from 11am to late at 52 Kauri Street, Cooroy.
Eumundi Brewery – Imperial Hotel Eumundi
We might not all feel a personal connection to the traditional country pub, but it does loom large in the Aussie ocker mythology, giving it a certain appeal. Many of us have, at one point or another, thought: “It’d be cool to sit down and sink a cold one at the pub… you know, if it served great beer, wasn’t gross, wasn’t sexist, and still existed.”
The Imperial Hotel Eumundi is more than a hundred years old, rustic but clean, and is abuzz with both men and women from near and far. And, as the home of Eumundi Brewery, offers four taps of extremely local beer after brewing was brought back through a joint venture between the owners and Lion.
Two of the taps are hooked up to serving tanks in the brewery just metres away, serving up some of the freshest beer on the coast. The Refreshing Lager carries the legacy of the Eumundi Lager of old, but with New World hops to give it a fruity twist, while the mid-strength Pale Ale has a different feel to most Aussie pales, balancing out tropical hops with resiny hops. The other taps offer up seasonals, often infused with locally grown produce or botanicals to give them a distinctly Eumundi flavour, like the Ginger Pale Ale made with ginger sourced from growers just down the road. Book a tasting tour to hear Eumundi Brewery’s stories from the brewers themselves and get a peek behind the scenes.
Many of the town’s residents moved to Eumundi for the slow lifestyle and artistic vibe, so sit out in the bohemian beer garden to rub shoulders with the creative regulars. But, if you’re there for the serenity, be warned: the hotel’s interior bar and bohemian beer garden will be full to the brim on Wednesdays and Sundays, as the Eumundi Markets across the road draw quite a crowd. On those days, better to take your drink up to the verandah, and let the live music drift up to you while you let your imagination wander to earlier days of this historic hotel, and the Aussie spirit captured within.
Look over the main street with guitar in your ear, and enjoy old time vibes in a pub with fresh beer.
The Eumundi Brewery is part of the Imperial Hotel Eumundi, which is at 1 Etheridge Street, Eumundi. It’s the big hotel on the corner across from the renowned Eumundi Markets. It’s hard to miss and is open seven days, 10am to late.
Glass House Brewery
Take a 20 minute drive south and prepare yourself for some good old fashioned Italian hospitality. With two founders of Italian heritage – one family from the north of Italy, the other from the south – Glass House brings together traditional food and fresh beer to give you a dining experience you won’t forget in a hurry.
From Capricciosa to Buffalo & Prosciutto to the Truffle Shuffle, the pizzas coming out of the kitchen will have you swearing off Domino's for good. (The pizza menu is the backbone of the food offerings, but there are also pasta, veg and meat dishes if you’d prefer.) If you’re after something easy-drinking to pair with your pizza, have a fruity pale ale with your meal in the sunny beer garden. If it’s the smokey crust from the wood fired oven that’s really taken your fancy, Glass House’s smooth black lager will bring those darker flavours right out while you soak in the vibes of the warm timber surroundings.
Perhaps the best way to enjoy Glass House is enjoy your meal the Italian way: sit around the table with friends and family, order a bunch of dishes to share, grab a tasting paddle, and talk the night away. Take it slow and savour the flavours together. After all, food and drink aren’t to be rushed, but to help people enjoy life together. MW
You’ll find Glass House Brewery at 12/30 Mons Road, Forest Glen, in a precinct that values organic food and good beer.
Situated in the suburb of Kuluin, a few kilometres from the hustle and bustle of the Maroochydore shopping precinct, the Sunshine Brewery is a beacon for locals and weary tourists alike – and not just due to the the towering sign out the front as you approach, displaying the brewery's logo: the curling lip of a breaking wave.
Stepping inside the industrial building, the décor is rustic and eclectic. Many of the items were donations from customers after doors opened in early 2017 but the dominant item taking pride of place above the large wooden bar is an heirloom wooden kit surfboard belonging to owner, brewer and keen surfer Craig Dunsdon. Partner Daryle Cook welcomes customers into the brewery like family members and is knowledgeable about all aspects of the brewing process as well as the eight to ten beers you'll find pouring.
The diversity of craft beers on offer rivals any of their peers on the coast and is not limited to sessionable lagers and mid-strength ales but branches out to include the likes of a double IPA, an orange peel infused saison and a choc raspberry porter. The venue is also gaining popularity for its regular food and beer pairing events and, with the quality of beers and hospitality of offer, it's easy to see why.
Open from 10am to 7pm, Wednesday to Sunday, at 28 Fishermans Road, Kuluin.
Just a hop and a skip from the waterfront at Alexandra Headland and you'll find 10 Toes, one of the more established Sunshine Coast breweries, even though it only served its first beer to a customer in February 2016. It's the baby of Rupert Hall, who decided he'd had enough of his career as a project engineer in the world of pharmaceuticals and heavy engineering and fancied putting the decade he'd spent all grain brewing at home to use instead.
His decision to seek a more laid-back lifestyle* in keeping with the area 10 Toes calls home is reflected in the look of the brewery's home: surfboards and pictures of surfing adorn the walls of the bright and airy warehouse. Behind the bar is his workplace: an oft-expanded 12 hectolitre brewhouse and a growing farm of fermenters that, at time of publication, was set to be replaced by a larger, custom-designed brewery.
He fills the taps with well made and approachable beers, many of which you'll find in the bars and restaurants of the Sunshine Coast: Pipeline Pale, Rye Amber Ale, Dark Ale and so on – and which fared remarkably well in the GABS Hottest 100 Aussie Craft Beers in 2018. But there's enough tap space for him to play around too, so expect to find something new pouring pretty much any time you drop in.
10 Toes is at 4/127A Sugar Road, Alexandra Headland.
*Who are we kidding, making and selling beer for a living is far from laid-back, but we're pretty sure it beats the corporate life.
Brouhaha – Maleny
Few breweries in Australia can have hit the ground running as fast as Brouhaha, the Maleny brewpub that first opened its doors in June 2016. We're well positioned to make such a call as we first walked through said doors eleven days later. Already, the taps were filled with an array of beers – in part down to the policy of splitting batches of some beers and taking them in different directions: a saison dry-hopped and with raspberry; an American IPA as nature intended and a version lavished with fruit.
The standard across the board was quite remarkable for one so young, although a chat with the co-owner and head brewer soon gave you an understanding as to why. Matt Jancauskas had, let's be honest, bullshitted his way into a job at London brewery Beavertown and, once in the door, wasn't going to let the opportunity pass. In his time there, he rose to production manager, helped oversee various stages of the brewery's expansion and thus returned home with a wealth of knowledge. He was recruited by guys who already had the site, the name and the intent and helped bring Brouhaha to life in the unlikely spot of a mini-mall in Maleny surrounded by medical centres.
The diversity of beers has only expanded, demand from Brisbane and beyond has seen what they can spare from the brewpub head into bars and bottleshops, and they've undertaken various collaborations with other brewers as well as venues, all while welcoming hordes of guests to their brewery home week in, week out. What a Brouhaha, indeed.
Join Matt and co at 6/39 Coral Street, Maleny.
Your Mates Brewing
If you’re looking to sink a few while shooting pool and hearing live music, your options used to be the local RSL and, um, the local RSL. But now Your Mates Brewing is on the scene, with no noisy pokies, no sticky carpet, better food, and 12 taps of beer fresh from the tanks.
They say life moves a little slower at the beach, and the friendly, laid back feel of Your Mates gives credence to that. This is the place you come when you want to knock back a beer and have a chat, as the staff are always happy to talk about anything from the different beers on tap to the best fishing spots nearby. Or just sidle up to one of the regulars and ask what’s good today. It’s that kind of place.
Even the beers here have personality. Larry’s the larrikin in the funky shirt, Donnie’s the dark and mysterious dude sitting in the corner with a guitar, and Macca’s the easy-going mate who’s always up for anything. There are always new flavours to try as well, so get to know them over some local seafood.
If you’re looking for somewhere to try to impress your hoity-toity in-laws, this isn’t the place. But if you’re after good times with loud laughter and epic beer, you’re in the right spot.
Your Mates Brewing is at 41 Technology Drive, Warana. Just look for the big Larry out front.
Moffat Beach Brewing Co
Wend your way back from the hills to the coast and you'll find the most southerly stop on this guide: Moffat Beach Brewing Co. The small brewery was installed at the rear of owners Matt and Sharynne Wilson's café in 2015 as a means for the former to bring his passion from home to work. And it's a move into which Matt and his beers have grown.
On an early visit, there was plenty to enjoy: the views of the ocean just a few hundred metres away, the sunny vibe of the colourful café and its staff. Not all of the in-house brews were up to the same standard, however. But, after receiving feedback from beer award judges in 2016, where his beers didn't pick up any medals, the former soldier went to work. Twelve months later, he picked up a gold and two silvers.
He's proved to be a good student, taking on subsequent feedback and further refining his beers to the point Moffat Beach was named Champion Small Brewery at the 2018 Indies, followed up with more golds at the 2019 Australian International Beer Awards.
Time your visit right and you can sample the medal-winners and whatever else happens to be pouring while live music is played in front of the tanks.
Open seven days a week at 12 Seaview Terrace, Moffat Beach. Read our interview with Matt here.
And there's more (with even more to come too)...
- Sunshine Coast Brewery – 13 Endeavour Drive, Kunda Park – By far the longest established brewery on the coast – in operation since 1998 – Sunshine Coast has also been a breeding ground for some well known brewers, among them Ian Watson (formally Murray's and now Ballistic), Craig Wealands (Thirsty Crow) and Scotty Hargrave (Balter).
- Bonsai – 28 King Street, Cooran – This tiny nanobrewery setup is found in an historic and rustic sawmill in Cooran. Owner and brewer Matt Vanderveen produces small batch, diverse, carefully created and often perfectly formed beers. You can only try them on Friday and Saturday, but it's worth the effort with Noosa food truck Asian Street Food on hand too.
- Boiling Pot Brewing – Noosa Heads – Another brewery to open at the northern end of the Sunshine Coast, Boiling Pot started brewing on-site early in 2019.
You can also look out for beers from gypsy operation Stalwart and, should you be after someone to take care of the driving and provide an insight into beer (and more) in the region, you can hit up Josh at Sunshine Coast Brewery Tours. He runs a variety of tours, including a Farm to Fork experience that ends with a four-course degustation at Brouhaha, and is happy to tailor something to your requirements too.
About the author: Adam Gregory is a craft beer enthusiast, bad pun tragic and self confessed beer festival junkie. Follow his journeys with partner Anna via their Instagram account, A Couple Of Beers. Additional reporting by Mick Wust.