In your first interaction with Auckland House on social media, you might not pick it as a good beer spot right away.
You see the post about a long lunch with bottomless bubbles, and happy snaps of relaxed people sipping from a variety of beverages. You notice half of the menu is dedicated to breakfast and coffee, and the drinks menu is heavy with wines, spirits, and cocktails.
Since those cocktails are so ’grammable, their photos in the feed catch your eye: striking coloured concoctions garnished of a slice of citrus and sprig of rosemary, or a cucumber ribbon, or half a passionfruit, or a whole chilli. Many of the venue shots are awash with pastels – powder pink and baby blue and canary yellow – that capture the serene vibe of sunset over the water.
But take another look. Not only is there the sparkle off the water, but there’s the shine of stainless steel tanks in the alfresco area. Right beside the carafes and coupe glasses are tinnies and taps. Nestled among the carefully styled food photography are shots are pints and pizzas, schooners and freshly shucked oysters. And that pastel paint and blonde wood you can see? That’s the six tap handles pouring the core and seasonal beers of Gladstone’s first microbrewery, Auckland House.
It’s not the first brewery owned by The Light Group – that title goes to Headricks Lane in Rockhampton. But the success of that first brewing venue led to the group expanding further into central Queensland with Auckland House in Gladstone.
Alex Taubert, head brewer at Headricks Lane, oversees the beer recipes and brewing schedule, while brewer Cam McMillan is the man on the ground at Auckland House. Together, the two breweries produce for the venues in The Light Group, branding the beers differently in their respective cities, and are helping to expand the craft beer offering in central Queensland; if you fly into Rockhampton Airport or head out for a resort holiday on Heron Island, you can taste some of the product pumping out of Auckland House’s brewery.
But Auckland House is first and foremost a gorgeous hospitality venue with broad appeal. If you’re in Gladstone looking for fresh beer, you won’t do much better than a Yellow Patch Lager straight from the tap, shining the same gold as the sun reflecting off the water. Auckland Point American Pale Ale tastes better when you’re looking out from the point itself, with the brewing tanks at your back. And if the people you’re with are more interested in live music, local seafood and colourful cocktails than they are in fruited sours, bitter IPAs and the novelty of an outdoor brewery, that’s clearly not a problem here. Auckland House is the spot that’ll keep everyone in the party happy.
Since we spoke with Alex about Headricks Lane in Rockhampton, this Who Brews…? seems like a great opportunity to get to know Cam at Auckland House a little better.
Who are you?
I’ve been brewing with Light Group for about 18 months, including training at Headricks Lane before taking up the mantle at Auckland House since it opened. I moonlight as a brewer and work a day job as an engineer – the two professions cross over a surprising amount!
Where do you brew?
At Auckland House we brew on a 5 hectolitre brewery, located in a beautiful outdoor setting in the newly developed parklands of the East Shores precinct, on the picturesque waterfront of the busy Gladstone Harbour.
Why do you brew?
Beer has been a passion for as long as I’ve been able to drink it – and even before! Since then, the passion has grown and, coupled with a background in engineering, I spend most of my spare time building, modifying, maintaining, and brewing on both my own gear at home and the gear at Auckland House.
Brewing at Auckland House is something I do in between my day job for the love of brewing and all things beer.
Was there a beer or a moment that set you on the path to becoming a brewer?
I remember brewing my first batch of beer with a Coopers kit under a mate’s bedhead at college. That week we had to drink 24 tallies so we had enough empties. In hindsight, the beer was probably terrible. But the enjoyment of knocking out that first brew with my mate has lived on to this day. I like to think the beer has gotten much better since then!
What's the inspiration behind the brewery name?
Auckland House is situated on Auckland Point in Gladstone, which is right at the mouth of Auckland Creek. Auckland Point and Auckland Creek are named after a ship which ran aground in the Gladstone Harbour in 1847 after sailing from Sydney to establish a new settlement. Auckland House draws on this local history in the naming of the venue. We pay homage to the Gladstone region in a lot of our beer branding, as well.
What beer in your lineup best represents you and why?
As I am writing this, it is a humid, 35 degree Celsius day on the Gladstone Harbour. The beer that represents me most right now is our Yellow Patch Lager. This is a European style session lager – an upfront herbal and floral aroma supported with a light bready malt aroma and a beautifully crisp and dry finish.
This is the ultimate thirst-quenching and refreshing lager and you will often find me having one after a long, hot day in the brewery.
If anyone drops in on brew day, what are they most likely to hear blasting from the speakers?
My brewing playlists are mostly rock or heavy rock – Disturbed, Black Sabbath, Metallica, Live, Powderfinger, Red Hot Chilli Peppers – these get me pumped up for the brew day.
If you could have any person in the world join you on a brew day, who would it be, and why?
Picking one person is tough. I love brewing with friends and family – it makes a very enjoyable job even better when doing it with good company.
What beers are in your fridge right now?
Fresh and varied craft beer can be hard to source in Gladstone. I have an "Expert Beer Box" from Bucket Boys in my fridge right now. I find these pretty good because they have a certified Cicerone making the selection and they often include a wide variety of styles, including international styles.
What would be your desert island beer?
Yellow Patch Lager would be mother's milk on a desert island.
Which local beers have blown your mind in recent times?
Moffat Beach Brewing Co are pumping out some fantastically fresh and hoppy beers. I am a fan of the beers coming out of the Felons Barrel Hall as well.
Is there a particular style, ingtredient, or trent in beer you'd like to explore further?
I am a big fan of beer and food pairing. I love the idea of experimenting with small batch brews paired with a specific meal.
Our spent grain goes to beef cattle, and I can’t wait to pair some these beef cuts up with some limited release beers for a full sensory experience.
What beers have you released to date?
Right now at Auckland House, our six taps have Yellow Patch Lager, Wilson Session Ale, Auckland Point American Pale Ale, Heron Hazy, Lady Elliot IPA and Late Summer Sour. We have had a few limited releases that are typically changed up seasonally.
Where can people find your beers?
Our beers are sold at Light Group venues – Auckland House, Headricks Lane and Boathouse. You can also catch them at the Rockhampton Airport, or if you are lucky enough to be on Heron Island you can get our Heron Hazy on tap over there.
Where do you hope your brewery will be ten years from now?
I would love to still be here – hopefully banging out some award-winning beers in this scenic brewery, attracting people to the Gladstone region, and expanding and distributing a little wider amongst Queensland and Australia.
You'll find Auckland House at the East Shores precinct in Gladstone, with grassy parklands on one side and the picturesque harbour on the other, as well as in the Crafty Pint app. You'll find other entries in our Who Brews...? series here.