Port Macquarie is known for its pristine beaches, surrounding natural beauty and koalas. Lots and lots of koalas. The surrounding area in this part of New South Wales' north coast has the largest population of the furry critters in Australia’s east and boasts the world’s first koala hospital.
Unfortunately, as a result of bushfires in the area around the time of publication of this article, those koalas – and the Koala Hospital – are under a great deal strain. If you want to support the local population by helping provide water stations for thirsty koalas, you can head here.
However, if you're in town and want to try some local beer while you experience the koalas and beaches, Port Macquarie has you covered as three local breweries now call the coastal town home. You won't find much of their beer on tap at the town's pubs and bars – at least not at time of writing – but you can enjoy them at source.
What’s more, all three breweries are closely located in the coastal town’s industrial area and each offers a unique experience for locals and visitors alike.
Wicked Elf Brewery
The brewery now known as Wicked Elf started out as The Little Brewing Company. Launched in 2007 by Warwick and Kylie Little, back when regional breweries were few and far between, it picked up a number of trophies and put out many highly sought after beers, not least the Mad Abbot Christmas Ale series of beers still remembered fondly by many craft beer fans to this day.
In 2017, having entered into voluntary administration, the company was sold to new owners who have since rebranded the operation and switched focus to the Wicked Elf beers, which were effectively The Little Brewing Company's core range before the change.
The brewery is open during the day from Tuesday to Thursday and you can grab tastings of the Wicked Elf range, including Porter, Pilsner, Pale, Summer Ale and IPA, plus takeaways too – at time of writing, that included some of the brewery’s vintage Christmas Ale releases too.
Indulge your Wicked side by heading to Y1/58 Uralla Road, Port Macquarie.
Take the shortest of strolls from Wicked Elf and you'll find Moorebeer. That said, it's open from midday on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, so you won't be able to visit them on the same day...
Started by Ryan Moore and Brad Hodge, the brewery and taproom is the newest in town, opening in 2017 and quickly becoming an essential stop for any self-respecting beer drinker who finds themselves in Port Macquarie.
The stainless steel is a real showpiece of the venue, with the brewhouse catching your eye as soon as you walk in and tanks lining the length of the taproom revealing which beers are fermenting away inside. Once they’re ready for consumption, they’re sent to your glass via one of 10 taps mounted on the white brick wall and, while more accessible styles are always available, you’ll likely find yourself able to choose a sour, a double IPA or a hazy IPA (or all three) too.
If you’re after a bite, food is served up by Char Bar, local caterers who like their burgers large and nap-inducing.
Moorebeer can be found at 18/35 Merrigal Road, Port Macquarie.
Black Duck Brewing
Black Duck Brewing might be tucked away in another industrial corner of Port Macquarie but you’d never know it while you're sitting in in the sun staring at the surrounding gum trees. With eight taps – and most of the beers referencing birds in some way – a couple of tasting paddles is the perfect launching point from which to discover what’s been brewing.
There are regular brewery tours; that said, owner and brewer Al Owen will be more than happy to take you through what he’s made at pretty much any time – if you’re really lucky, his Great Dane Storm will come along for the ride too.
Pizza nights are a regular feature, as are platters that focus on food from local producers (actually, everything Black Duck does tends to focus on the local), making it easy to while away an afternoon.
You can enjoy both food and beer on one of the elegantly carved timber tables as you soak in the sounds of either an impressive playlist or live music: if you're there at the right time of year, the annual Howling Moon Blues Festival fills the brewery with homegrown Australian blues music.
Surround yourself with ducks and dogs at 6 Acacia Avenue, Port Macquarie.
While your best bet for trying each of the local breweries' beers is at their homes, there are a few spots where you can satisfy your craftier urges around town too.
- The Burger Rebellion – Shop 9/6-14 Clarence Street
If it's hearty food you’re looking to pair with your beer, it’s hard to go past The Burger Rebellion. You’ll likely find Moorebeer pouring on tap with a larger selection of craft beer in tinnies and stubbies.
- The Beach Hotel – 1 Horton Street
A sprawling pub with waterside views that mostly sells beers from Lion's craft brands with a few independent craft beers in the mix too.
- Tacking Point Tavern Bottleshop – 102b Ocean Drive
If your time in Port Macquarie and its surrounds is likely to include lots of time spent by the campfire you might instead decide to focus on takeaways. While each of the town’s breweries sell packaged beer, if you’re looking for a wider selection, Tacking Point Tavern’s bottleshop should be able to sort you out.
You can find other Beer Travel pieces here and Crafty Crawl guides to various suburbs and areas of Australia here. You'll also find all the above breweries and venues – plus heaps more – in the free Crafty Pint app, which you can download from the App Store and Google Play.
If you're reading this in time, the Port Macquarie Beer & Cider Festival returns on November 16, 2019, and there's still tickets left.