The Best Of Beer 2022: Queensland

With each passing year, it seems every more ridiculous that, for a few years at least, Queensland dragged its heels while other parts of the country were embracing craft beer. Now it's home to some of the country's finest breweries and beer bars, with both cropping up across the state. It makes the Queensland edition of our review of the year in beer an epic undertaking, but Mick Wüst is just the man for such a job...


STANDOUT MOMENTS

Those Bloody Floods

A snapshot of the debris at Newstead Brewing's Milton brewery; the folk at Range and Fonzie Abbott keeping their heads above water.

A snapshot of the debris at Newstead Brewing's Milton site; the folk at Range and Fonzie Abbott keeping their heads above water.

 

Call me a wet blanket, but I feel like we’ve had enough once-in-40-years floods in the last decade or so.

The disaster that hit at the end of February was by no means restricted to South East Queensland, but it did hit SEQ hard, and a number of SEQ breweries along with it – and this is all without even looking at the impact on farms, warehouses, supply routes… While many businesses were lucky enough to experience little or no damage, others felt the full brunt of the water.

The photos that came through were surreal: from knee-deep water through Range's taproom and brewery, to a horse float floating in front of Milton Common, to the Felons team forming a human chain to rescue a man from a sinking houseboat.

There were also glimmers of the resilience, humour and community spirit we all know and love. Matt and Gerard from Range donned their Crocs and cracked open a few tinnies (I’m so glad their hashtag #crocsandcans didn’t take off), the Fonzie Abbott crew pulled out an inflated unicorn and a coffee cart, and Easy Times hosted a fundraiser called The Great Brown LemonAid.

Perhaps the worst hit (and best documented) brewery in Brisbane was Newstead Brewing’s production brewery in Milton. It seems nothing was spared from the damage. The brewhouse, the packaging line, the barrel room, the lab, the venue, the cold rooms, the fridges, the kitchen, the raw materials… all were devoured by the engorged Brown Snake. Newstead spent the rest of the year dealing with the ongoing effects: they’ve been glueing and labelling beer cartons by hand, making wort at the Doggett St brewery and shipping it to Milton for fermentation, pulling apart their centrifuge for cleaning and repair, rebuilding their lab – and by the end of 2022 they got their Milton brewery (mostly, and with tide marks on walls and equipment) back to full speed.

All in all, it seems the industry pulled through alright. But if it’s alright with you, La Niña, everyone could use a little break before the next once-in-40-years flood.


Queensland Killing It At The Indies

The teams from Sunshine Coast breweries came together to celebrating their Indies achievements.
The teams from Sunshine Coast breweries came together to celebrate their Indies achievements.

 

At the Indies awards this year, a full half (five of ten) of the champion beers came from Queensland.

Range's Colour Theory took out the new Juicy-Hazy category. (If you’re interested in a fly-on-the-wall look at the judging process of beer awards, our man Will Ziebell was on the ground to document the entire judging process of this category, discovering how 162 blind-tasted beers get whittled down to a single exemplar anointed as champion.)

Madocke took out the Champion European-Style Ale with their Blonde. Perhaps Belgians really do do it better.

The Champion Fruit & Funk trophy went to Brouhaha’s Strawberry and Rhubarb Sour, as if that pink prima donna needs more affirmation; it’s already popular enough that Brouhaha custom-designed their Baringa brewhouse to accommodate the massive volume of Strawbarb they sell.

Meanwhile, Moffat Beach Brewing picked up the Champion NoLo trophy with their Social Jam Pale Mid, and the Champion IPA trophy with Moff’s Summer Ale – a beer they label as a summer ale but technically fits the style category of session IPA (it’s a long story).

It'd be tempting to use this section to highlight Moffat Beach Brewing, since they took two of the above mentioned five beer trophies and Champion Medium Brewery at the Indies… as well as Champion Small Australian Brewery, Best International-Style Pale Ale, and Best Traditional IPA at the AIBAs. But I know Matty Wilson gets a bit embarrassed by all this attention, so we’ll broaden the focus for his sake.


The Coast The Keeps Shining Brighter

 

Something has to be said for the Sunshine Coast. The scene there has evolved beyond simply "nice beer in a nice location" to there point where the entire nation is keeping one eye on it.

Those outside of the craft beer bubble are even beginning to pay more attention; the region’s tourism board has gotten behind the breweries in a big way with their "Australia’s Craft Beer Capital" initiative, based on the SC having the largest number of craft breweries per capita. (The campaign even includes a podcast, In Pursuit of Hoppiness, which delves into the stories of many of the breweries.)

Of course, a sprawling region with a relatively sparse population doesn’t say anything about the quality of breweries. But the breweries speak for themselves – not just the ever-growing Moffat, Brouhaha, Blackflag (pictured), and Your Mates, but also the quieter players like 10 Toes who have been improving year on year, and Terella with their impressive sustainability program, vast outdoor area with live entertainment and farmyard animals to pat.

Whether or not you like the "craft beer capital" moniker, the Sunshine Coast is certainly punching above its weight.


Caught In The Crowdfunding

Black Hops upgraded their packaging line this year, improving product quality and raising their canning output from 65 cans per minute to 250 cans per minute.
Black Hops upgraded their packaging line this year, raising their canning output from 65 cans per minute to 250 cans per minute.

 

The surge in equity crowdfunding we’ve seen over the past few years has been a game-changer for some. It shows many punters are getting behind local and indie breweries in a big way, putting their money where their mouth is. (Or should it be "where their mouths are"?) It also gives the breweries opportunities to grow that they wouldn’t otherwise have had – or at least, wouldn’t have without waiting several years or bringing more investors into the fold.

In January, Black Hops turned to equity crowdfunding to raise funds to double the footprint of their BHII site at Biggera Waters, and are upgrading the brewery with the aim to push their production capacity up to ten million litres per year. They’ve also promised to build a distillery onsite, so get your lowball tumblers and ice spheres ready. These guys are old hands when it comes to crowdfunding, and this time they raised $2.2million in under 24 hours, breaking the record for the biggest equity crowdfunding raise by a brewery in Australia…

… before Your Mates came along and broke that record again in October: $2.5 million from more than 1,000 investors in just under 75 minutes. Yikes. (More later on where they’re spending the money.)

In July, Future Magic Brewing did something a little different to other breweries: entered the equity crowdfunding space right at the beginning. The $300,000 they raised wasn’t to enable the growth of an existing brewing company, but was capital for the initial build. (I believe the in-speak is "seed funding".)

And in November, Blackflag looked to crowdfunding to enable them to expand the production capacity of their Coolum brewery – yes, the one they just built. Even before they were finished installing the tanks, they knew the kit wasn’t yet big enough to bring all of their currently contract brewed volume in-house.

This year, between these four crowdfunding campaigns in Queensland alone, almost 3,000 new people became a part-owner of a local brewery. The people have spoken, and they want more beer.


And The Rest...

In June, Catchment Brewing announced the acquisition of Fortitude Brewing on Mount Tamborine. Unlike a few other buy-outs within the independent brewing industry in Queensland in recent years, this purchase saw the acquired brand being retained; Catchment and Fortitude now exist as sister brands, with each brewery’s beers pouring at each other’s venues. With their increased brewing capacity, Catchment have announced their plan to acquire up to ten more venues.


I swear there were some areas at Juicy that weren't dark and crowded - the Crafty Pint Lager Lounger, for one.
I swear there were some areas at Juicy that weren't this dark – the upstairs Crafty Pint Lager Lounge (not pictured), for one.


In July, the inaugural Juicy Festival was a huge hit. With its all-inclusive ticket approach, the goal was to give punters the chance to enjoy maximum tasting with minimum fuss, and every account I’ve heard from festival-goers (including myself) flagged it as a success. The festival’s founders also reduced the number of moving parts for participating breweries, so brewers could spend more time networking and enjoying the event than is normally possible at beer festivals. We cover the rise of niche festivals here, and in the Western Australia 2022 wrap-up too.

The first half of the year saw Stalwart Brewing in the Sunshine Coast hinterland close down – first the venue in January, then the entire brewing operation in June – before the business went into liquidation. And in September, Easy Times in Woolloongabba went into voluntary administration. With the expert help of administrators they were able to reduce costs, pay trade creditors in full, and restructure the business. By the end of November, the period of voluntary administration ended, and Easy Times continues to trade.

September was also when I sat down with Ian Watson, a pillar of Queensland’s craft beer industry, to chat about how his brain interprets smells and flavours as visual colours. Granted, this isn’t 2022-specific news, but I’ve been wanting a peek into Ian’s synaesthetic brain for a few years now, so was glad to finally get the opportunity.

On top of all this, a number of breweries have rebranded, expanded, shuffled their core range or switched up their head brewers. As the beer industry continues to evolve, grow more competitive, and perhaps grow more difficult to succeed within – both within Queensland and without – the need for breweries to be able to adapt has never been greater. This ultimately means the beer offerings for punters are getting better all the time.


BEERS OF THE YEAR

 

Ballistic x Stone Neighbourhood Golden DIPA

I won’t pretend to know what makes a DIPA a golden DIPA, but I know this beer managed to capture the aggressive essence of Stone Brewing, which is no mean feat. Shout out to the whole Neighbourhood series, for which Ballistic have made international collaborations that include a cold IPA with New Zealand’s Boneface Brewing and a Mandarin IPA with Vietnam’s Pasteur Street Brewing.

Special mention also to Coup de Grace 2022, the imperial stout aged in shiraz, rum and bourbon barrels then blended back together. It’s possibly even better than the first iteration of this beer, which we put in this list in 2020. But we can’t just put Coup de Grace on this list every year. (Can… can we? I’m actually asking you, dear reader.)


Balter x Mountain Culture Bucket Full Of Nothin’

Scotty Hargrave and DJ McCready are both insanely talented brewers, so when they joined forces to brew a beer for Balter’s fifth anniversary, it was always going to be a good 'un. Balter brought the latest season hops hand-selected from the US, Mountain Culture brought their house yeast, and together they made a hazy (le gasp!) IIPA oozing with fresh fruit and candy flavours that matched the vibrant can design brilliantly. You could really taste the pink and aqua.

Bucket Full Of Nothin’ was first released at Sydney GABS in 2021, where the keg was drained in ten minutes flat and it went on to win the People’s Choice award. This year it was rebrewed, put into cans, and released through Dan Murphy’s across the country.

 

If you thought their friendship couldn't grow closer, you were wrong.
If you thought their friendship couldn't grow closer, you were wrong.

Blackflag x Black Flag x La Black Flag Three Flags Hazy IPA

When you find two other other breweries with basically the same name as you, do you have any choice but to brew a confusingly-labelled beer with them?

Blackflag sent a drunken email to Black Flag Brewing in the States and La Black Flag in Spain, and the three ended up getting together on Zoom and agreeing to brew the same beer. This tri-continental collaboration hazy IPA was dank and stonefruity and reminded me a little of The Josh Fight.


Lost Palms Paper Trails

We considered putting Blue Skies in this list, as when Crafty founder James Smith took the oat cream IPA stuffed with Riwaka, Citra and Amarillo hops to Perth for a blind tasting, it came second out of 12 IPAs despite the transit – the only interstate offering to make the top six.

I thought Paper Trails should get the spot, however, as this Italian-style pilsner was superb. The heirloom Eraclea pilsner malt and the heavy dosing of Hallertau hops came together to form a lager with enough bite and flavour that I still crave it every time I think about it.

James absolutely outranks me, but I'm the one who wrote this article. So let's see which beer ends up making the final version of this list. [Given you're such a fan of the "Why don't we have both?" meme, Mick... – Editor]

(On a side note, Lost Palms was kicking goals this year with upgrades to their brewery, a number of crackin’ good limited releases, and some sexy can designs.)


Newstead Simon Says Red IPA

It’s in my contract that I have to include a red IPA in this list every year.* So here’s 2022’s entry. 

A very malty base was loaded with not a few hops. Hops at the start (mash). Hops in the middle (kettle, whirlpool, two rounds of dry-hopping). Hops at the end (bright tank). Hop pellets. Whole hop cones. Hop oil extracts. Hops in a boat. Hops with a goat. Hops in a box. Hops with a fox.

It was silly and delicious.


Range Colour Theory / DISCO

Colour Theory, and the Range crew celebrating the release of DISCO.
The trophy-winning Colour Theory, and the Range crew decked out in DISCO.

 

Which is more notable - Colour Theory winning the champion trophy in the new Juicy-Hazy at the Indies, or DISCO being the first beer in Range’s Forever series after five years without a core range?

I really don’t know. Take your pick. We’ve written about both before, this article’s getting long, and Range manage to get in this list in some form or another every year. It makes me glad I invested in $500 worth of hazy IPAs from Range in 2019, and squirrelled them away in the garage. Once they’ve cellared for another year or so, I plan to drink a few myself and see how they’ve matured, and sell the rest for a tidy profit. Can’t wait enjoy the fruits of my patience!


Slipstream West Coast Tour series

I included the first beer in this series – California – in last year’s list. But the crew at Slipstream played to their strengths with this whole series, recreating the road trip that first inspired their brewery by building recipes around hops and malts sourced from each beer’s eponymous state. They brought the flavours of Idaho and Oregon with finesse, and Washington capped off the series wonderfully.


Working Title The Place Beyond The Pines

All the trees in the forest couldn’t produce enough paper for me to say everything I want to say about this beer. Especially since Mark and Luke went and put most of the trees in this beer already.

This Native Pine Christmas Ale beer has been taking up residence in Mark Howes’ brain for years, inspired first by a Mikkeller beer and then by a brewpub in Denver.

The process began with a rainy foraging trip to the family farm in Maleny to lop branches from a 10m tall native Bunya pine tree and collect 50kg of fresh pine tips from the early spring growth. They took all this back to Brisbane, where they loaded the mash with “the spiky little bastards” (the young pine needles) to extract the aromatic terpenes. But Mark and Luke wanted to put in more than just the tips; they hollowed out a pine branch selected for its length and girth with a power saw and a rusty chisel to make an aqueduct of sorts, and ran the wort through it slowly to pick up as much sap as possible. The liquid ended up in the hop back… which was packed with more pine needles.


Foraged native ingredients, months in the making, and Mark Howes' & Luke Shields' craziest beer to date.
Foraged native ingredients, months in the making, and Mark Howes' & Luke Shields' craziest beer to date.


What started as a relatively simple base beer – insofar as a 10 percent ABV malty west coast with Simcoe, Chinook and Columbus is considered simple – became a sticky business that shone with fresh pine like nothing else. Sappy and earthy and lemony and toffee-like and floral and Eucalyptus-y. It tasted like tree. It tasted unique.

I drank a schooner and a half of this beer (my drinking partner had to drive, poor sucker) and am already looking forward to when they make it “bigger and better” next year. I’m longing for it. (Is longing the best word to use here? Or is there a synonym for "longing" that would fit better?)


NEW ARRIVALS

 

As always, Queensland is awash with new places to get great beer: some tiny ones, some regional ones, some freakin' beautiful ones! (At time of writing, Archer in Newmarket, Hiker in Salisbury, and Future Magic in East Brisbane are all still racing to open as soon as they can, but with only a week left in the year and delays out of their control, they’ll likely be 2023 babies.)

Lucha Brewing

What’s the opposite of working in the public service? Opening a brewery themed around masked Mexican wrestlers can’t be far off. The owners of Lucha Brewing left the former to do the latter, and they’re not looking back - their brewery in Seventeen Mile Rocks is a welcome addition to Brisbane’s western suburbs, with beer and bright colours all squeezed into their little storefront.


Yepp Brewing

Si. Hai. Oui. Affirmative. There are a lot of ways to say yes, but only one Yepp Brewing (pictured above). Since opening their taproom in Yeppoon at the start of the year, they’ve been charming locals with their pink neon sign behind the bar and ten taps pouring their beers.


Scarborough Harbour

Everything about this brewery on the Redcliffe Peninsula has a nautical theme to it, from its decor to the names of its beers. You only have to look at the harbour to see why; the view will have you yelling, “Boats! Boats! Boats!” Sipping from a tasting paddle on the deck at Scarborough Harbour will instantly make you feel like you’re on holiday. Or that you’re a ship’s captain. (Or both, I guess. Ship’s captains need holidays, too.)

 


Red Dog Brewery

Ever been in Mackay’s CBD and found yourself pining for a locally made beer? Well, I haven’t because I haven’t been to Mackay. But if I DID go to Mackay (stranger things have happened), I’d be able to head into Red Dog.

And if you go to Red Dog, you'll find them pouring the likes of a Kolsch, pils, pale, IPA, amber, passionfruit wit and coffee porter brewed on their 600-litre brewhouse, plus a few beers from other local brewers. As for the name, keep an eye out for the owners' red Kelpie.


Burleigh Barrels

When you find a brewery behind a petrol station, you don’t necessarily expect an airy venue full of natural light and beachy vibes, 24 taps pouring both beers brewed onsite and a selection from local Gold Coast breweries, plus a mammoth food menu serving up house-smoked American BBQ alongside pizzas, burgers, and tacos. But, as you may have guessed from the extreme specificity of the previous sentence, that’s exactly what you’ll find at Burleigh Barrels.


Maggie Island

OK, I HAVE been to Magnetic Island, and it’s definitely an idyllic spot where locally made beers would go down a treat. With a 200 litre system, Maggie Island Brewery isn’t exactly a large brewery… but then, Magnetic Island isn’t exactly a large island.


Psycho Suzie’s

Look, if you’d told me someone opened a nanobrewery in Warwick that was putting out an adventurous spread of styles and asked me to guess the name of it, I’m not sure I would have guessed “Psycho Suzie’s”. But it’s the little surprises that make life worth living, right? One of the owners (Dean Alsford, who’s also head brewer) has worked as a chef at Michelin-starred restaurants, so you have to expect the pub grub isn’t likely to be too shabby.


Flat Lizard

Open a family- and dog-friendly brewery in Stafford and you’re bound to make some friends. With Happy Valley just around the corner, a brew kit that’s belonged to Young Henrys and Grifter, and some malting taking place in-house by a barley farmer from Gympie, Flat Lizard has quite a few things going for it.


Straddie Brewing

OK, the number of breweries that opened in beautiful places this year is just plain silly. After two years of contract brewing, the Straddie Brewing crew finally opened up their own spot on North Stradbroke Island… and it’s stunning. Three storeys (including rooftop seating, which wins me over immediately), modern architecture, island-inspired decor, and one of the most incredible outlooks you’ll get from a brewery anywhere. Oh, and they make beer too.


Blackflag’s Coolum Compound

It’s big. It’s black. It’s full of colourful murals. And it’s designed to pump out a lot of tasty beer wrapped in kick-ass artwork.

 


Ward’s Brewing

In 1922, it was opened as a cordial factory. In 2022, it was opened as a brewery. I think it’s fair to say we’re happy with this reincarnation. Ward’s Brewing Co opened in November, and the people of Gladstone didn’t waste any time getting on board.


Common Ground Cellars

The team behind Milton Common and Common Ground Brewing has opened up a bottleshop in St Lucia. The store focuses on local and independent drinks – chief among them Common Ground Brewing’s own beers and spirits – and provides a space for small producers to run tastings and otherwise spruik their wares.


My Beer Dealer Morningside

My Beer Dealer, the bottleshop that began (and still lives) beneath Brewski and opened a second location in Eagle Junction, cracked open a third location in Morningside. It’s basically an excuse for Matt Emerson to have more storage space for the interesting beers he collects when he gets excited, but we’re not complaining.


Better Together

With a very soft launch right at the tail-end of the year, Better Together makes this list by a whisper. Using tank space at Bacchus and Sea Legs, Emily Tankey – owner of West End’s BOSC and ex-de Molen brewer – is brewing some drinkable and everyday type beers, and some big and bold and barrel-aged type beers. (Expect a feature article on Better Together in the new year!)


BREAKTHROUGH BREWERIES

I’m going to cheat here (and in the next section too – sue me). I’d like to highlight two breweries instead of one, to represent the great things happening both on the Sunshine Coast and the Gold Coast.

Your Mates

Hep on tour; McGarry in the new space next door; the soon-to-be-open bowlo.
Hep on tour; McGarry in the new space next door; the soon-to-be-open bowlo.

 

These guys have had quite the year.

In January, their Larry pale ale landed a podium finish in the GABS Hottest 100 (yes, yes, I know it's a popularity contest and that breweries use marketing campaigns and all that, but a marketing campaign that mobilises your loyal fan base IS a good indicator of success).

In the middle of the year, co-founder Matt Hepburn spent two-and-a-half months on the road in a monstrous customised LandCruiser, travelling to regional centres and tiny towns around Queensland. He shouted schooners of Larry in pubs all the way up to Cooktown, all the way out to Mt Isa, and all the way down to Stanthorpe… and if he snuck in a bit of four wheel driving, surfing and fishing in between, who could blame him? They called it the Mateship Tour, and it was aptly named: when you’re sharing thousands of Larries from kegs in the pubs and from cartons in the campsites and caravan parks, you’re bound to make a few new mates.

In October, they broke the aforementioned crowdfunding record for Australian breweries, and they've begun expansion of their brewing facilities after taking up the lease next door to their Warana headquarters, which tripled the space available to them. With the initial expansion stage, they’ll double their brewing capacity, but the aim over the next few years is to increase their production more than tenfold.

Then, in December, they announced the imminent opening of the Your Mates Bowls Pub as they breathe new life into a bowls club in Cooroy in the Noosa hinterland. To be honest, I couldn’t think of a brewery more fitting to pull this off; there’s something about Hep and McGarry that just screams "barefoot bowls".


Madocke

 

After running a commercial brewery out of their 36m² home garage for the past few years, Jimmy Van Eetvelde and Annelies Nijskens opened the doors of Madocke’s two-storey brewpub in Ashmore on the Gold Coast at the close of 2021. With all that extra elbow room, the pair have spent the last 12 months burrowing deeper into the local beer scene.

They made a Belgian honey blonde with the Belgian ambassador to Australia, who is also a beekeeper of the Belgian beehives(?!), to raise funds for a Ukrainian humanitarian project. They’ve been running R&D to transition to as many Australian ingredients possible while retaining the Belgian character of their beers, all in the interest of reducing their ecological footprint while benefiting the Australian economy and minimising freight delays and costs. And, as they took out Champion European-Style Ale trophy at the 2022 Indies with their Blonde – which is made from 80 percent Australian malts – it’s clear they’re on the right track.

While there are other breweries making Belgian-style beers, Madocke is the only Belgian brewery in the Southern Hemisphere that’s owned and run by Belgians. The way Jimmy and Annelies bring an authentic taste of Belgium while also being firmly established in the community and unwaveringly committed to the local beer industry is nothing short of admirable.


HOW WAS 2022 FOR YOU?

Josh Donohoe

 

Josh Donohoe is the founding director of Sunshine Coast Craft Beer Tours and Creative Tours & Events. Since 2016, he’s built his fleet of vans from one to four, and he runs tours that help people discover good food, wine and spirits… but obviously we’re most interested in the beer side of things.

Josh has watched the local beer industry grow and mature from his unique vantage point, and his support has been invaluable as he’s opened more and more people’s eyes to the great breweries on the Sunshine Coast. Perhaps the best single word I can use to describe Josh is "influencer". (You’ll laugh later.)

How's 2022 been for you and Creative Tours?

It’s been another roller-coaster year for our business. There have been some highs and some lows, but to be perfectly honest it’s been more stressful than last year, which I know is hard to believe!

We have seen an increase of tourists to the Sunshine Coast which has been great, but the challenge has been getting them to spend on experiences after they have paid for flights, accommodation, and meals. The drive market, local customers and especially local businesses have been loyal in supporting us with bookings throughout the year, particularly the months of November and December. Now, if only I had time to take a breath and think about 2023….


Any standout moments?

There have been a few standout moments for the business, and personally, that have helped cap off 2022.

Winning a Gold Medal at the Queensland Tourism Awards for excellence in Food Tourism, predominantly due to our hard work getting beer on the map!

Visiting the USA and UK on events coordinated by Tourism Australia to sell the Sunshine Coast to the world!

Attending WA Beer Week as a guest speaker in February to discuss the work behind creating craft beer trails and the Australia’s Craft Beer Capital campaign on the Sunshine Coast.


Which beers from Queensland have you enjoyed most in 2022?

I am a staunch local supporter so this list might not surprise too many people. When it comes to award-winning beers, it’s pretty hard to go past anything from Moffat Beach Brewing Co, and their range of pales and IPAs continues to impress me. 

I always keep a Heads of Noosa Japanese Lager in the fridge (those guys also dropped some great limited releases this year), and of course I love having a beer on tap with the smaller venues on the coast like Mort’s Brewing Co, or Noosa Hinterland Brewing Co. I must mention my out of state favourites from Wildflower too!


What can people expect from Creative Tours in 2023?

Collaboration tours! We just ran a collab tour with Pyney’s Pie Reviews visiting breweries and bakeries with the aim of supporting local businesses. Beer and pies are an excellent combination so expect another of those to follow, as well as Breweries & BBQ’s, some tours to Brisbane for our Sunny Coast locals, and hopefully some more road trips for me to explore the world of beer!


And what's your one wish for Aussie beer in 2023?

I would love to see Aussie beer (and breweries) find better ways to engage with their audience. After all, we need them to continue their support of our awesome industry. And less influencers.


Jos Erickson

 

Jos and her partner Matt Farrelly run Hop On Brewery Tours, taking people on guided tours around Brisbane and the Gold Coast. She’s also involved in the Royal Queensland Food & Wine Show Beer Awards and the Indies, and this year led a platoon of 50 or so beer stewards in her role as Indies Coordinator.

How's 2022 been for you and Hop On?

It's been strong, picking up again, and shaping up to be one of our best years yet. Directly post-COVID lockdown we had one of our best months ever; I think people were tired of being cooped up and wanted to get out and explore where they could, which meant a lot of people visiting new places in their own backyards.

We're seeing international guests return, which picks up our midweek trade, plus our locals are getting behind us and coming out on tour. Oftentimes, we will see someone who has travelled before book another trip when a friend or family member is visiting and they want to do something different.


Any standout moments?

We were a finalist in the 2022 Australian Small Business Champion Awards, which is exciting because it's one of the first awards we've entered on this scale.

The business hit 7,000-plus guests, which is pretty monumental considering it's still just the two of us that run the day-to-day, with guest drivers helping us out when needed.

Oh, and we took our first holiday since starting Hop On! Two weeks tasting beer in Tasmania and Adelaide – there are some cracking breweries doing amazing things in both those places – then High Country Victoria, finally checking out longtime favourites Killer Sprocket, Cavalier, Bridge Road and Bright, and discovering a new favourite: Two Pot Brewing Co.

On a personal level, being involved in the RQFWS Beer Awards and the Indies has been a really exciting challenge as well. It's a completely different experience to running tours. Usually I'm the one in control, knowing what's happening at all times. In these instances, even though I was helping to run the show, there were moments when so much that was happening was out of my hands.

I love moving into these new leadership roles within the wider beer community, and I've had a lot of support behind me as I do that. I want to continue to grow and learn in this space and, ideally, become a dependable, reliable, hard-working face in the industry that people trust and know they can count on. Whether that means getting involved in more beer comps, studying to become a Cicerone, starting a podcast (because there aren't enough of those floating around...) or doing a little bit from each of those columns, I'm having fun looking towards the future and setting some new, lofty goals for myself and the business.


Which beers from Queensland have you enjoyed most in 2022?

  • Working Title Nutella Fudge Stout 
  • Japan Black by Burleigh Brewing
  • Espresso Martini Milk Stout by Soapbox 
  • Black Lager by Madocke
  • Cold Coast Coffee Stout by Precinct 
  • Hop Swap II by Black Hops
  • Earl Grey Creme Brulee by Aether 
  • Caramilk Stout by Happy Valley Brewing Co – OMG a white stout aged in whiskey barrels. The growler of it was expensive and worth every single cent.

[Looks like I need to take lessons from Jos on record-keeping when it comes to great beers – Editor]


What can people expect from Hop On in 2023?

Big things! Pre-COVID we were thinking of expanding and buying another van, and that's back on the cards. We've already started running distillery tours alongside brewery tours, plus partnering with local activity providers, and the possibilities are endless. A third van and a driver are at the top of our list for 2023, especially since we have an overseas holiday planned and will need someone to look after operations while we're away.

We are also on the verge of launching walking tours in Brisbane. The aim of the tours is to incorporate Brisbane history and heritage with beer education, visit local breweries, and reduce our carbon footprint.

There's also – can I share this? – the possibility of expanding interstate. We see potential outside of Queensland and don't want to miss the opportunity to develop the Hop On business model in new environments. We won't step on anyone's toes, but we want to continue to provide the best day out for people wherever they travel in Australia.


And what's your one wish for Aussie beer in 2023?

Please stop making everything hazy, and burn all the Sabro to the ground. I would love beer to go back to big, solid American pale ales and IPAs (pale, red, brown or black – not picky, just not hazy!) with that proper hit of bitterness. Maybe it's the Oregonian in me. I'd be thrilled if everything went West Coast again. 

Having said that, I hope the IPL category grows as I've been digging those in the QLD heat (Murals with Metaphors by Happy Valley is a standout here), plus I'm keen to see the red and black lager offerings expand. And sour IPAs – Bacchus do an amazing range of these with different hops.


If you made it through Mick's marvellous mini-novella and are frothing for more, you'll find the rest of this series here. Thanks to the wider Crafty Pint team and the industry gurus who have helped in the compilation of this series.


*I may have added that part to the contract myself.

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