Crafty Sprawl: Sunshine Coast Breweries Part I

July 5, 2023, by Mick Wust

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Crafty Sprawl: Sunshine Coast Breweries Part I

Since the Sunshine Coast covers such a huge area and really is quite the good beer hotspot these days, we’ve split this guide – less Crafty Crawl, more Crafty Sprawl – into a three-parter.

Moving from south to north, we’ll look at the breweries inhabiting the lower half of the coast (from Caloundra up to Nambour) in part one, before heading to the rest of the breweries (from Coolum to Cooran) in part two. Then, in the final instalment, we’ll check out some of the best bars and bottleshops that call the Sunny Coast home.


When you hear "Sunshine Coast", you understandably think "beaches". And for good reason: the 60 kilometre stretch of golden coastline reaches from Caloundra to Noosa, and is picturesque and damn fine for beach lovers of all kinds, whether you’re a sunrise surfer or an afternoon sunbather.

But the Sunshine Coast is more than its beaches. It’s a sprawling region that includes hinterland towns and rainforests, cities and farms, the wildlife conservation efforts of Australia Zoo, the theme park rides of Aussie World, and the absurdness of The Big Pineapple (which has a high ropes course and onsite Wildlife HQ Zoo, because why not?).

In more recent years, the region has become known for its beer, which is fitting considering the place literally has "sunshine" in its name. What better situation is there for drinking beer than sitting in the sunshine?

That said, it’s taken its sweet time getting here. You know how many breweries there were on the Sunshine Coast in 2015? One. Just one. (Sunshine Coast Brewery, for those playing at home.)

You know how many there are today? Well, they’re popping up so quickly that whatever number I write will probably be out of date by the time you read this. So I’m going to play it safe and say: at least 20. It’s a madhouse, in the best possible way. The Sunshine Coast’s tourism board even launched the campaign "Australia’s Craft Beer Capital" since the region is home to more craft breweries per capita than any other in the country.

Well placed to watch the growth of the industry is Josh Donohoe, owner of Sunshine Coast Craft Beer Tours. Having built this business (and its sister operation, Creative Tours) around the food and drink experiences the Sunshine Coast has to offer, Josh has had front row seats for the explosion of the brewery scene.

 

Josh Donohue of Sunshine Coast Craft Beer Tours has been helping people explore the Sunny Coast beer scene since 2016.
Josh Donohue of Sunshine Coast Craft Beer Tours has been helping people explore the Sunny Coast beer scene since 2016.

 

“Breweries have flooded the region, offering everything from small hinterland town venues to breweries opening larger production venues as they grow to meet the demand for beer.

“There is the challenge for local taps and of course the crowded wholesale market,” he says, “but as a whole the local industry is strong and well supported by locals and tourists.”

Something beautiful about the breweries of the Sunny Coast is the way they fit together as a whole. Each brewery has something special to offer. There’s the larrikin vibe of Your Mates, the fruit sours of Brouhaha, the lagers of Heads of Noosa, the skater-and-graffiti aesthetic of Blackflag, the rustic nature of Noosa Hinterland Brewing… really, the variety is impressive. Anyone who says: “You’ve seen one, you’ve seen ‘em all” clearly hasn’t seen many of them. 

Even the sizes are quite disparate, with some breweries pumping out thousands of litres a day to fill their towering fermenting tanks while others chug along comfortably on their 200L systems. Breweries big and small are part of the Sunny Coast ecosystem.

“A few [breweries] have recently scaled up with Moffat Beach Brewing Co, Brouhaha and Your Mates developing production sites and adding satellite venues to their businesses,” Josh says.

“The smaller breweries have carved their own niche with places like Kenilworth Pub, Morts Brewing in Nambour, and Noosa Hinterland Brewing in Cooran all offering a country drive or hidden gem feel to their venue experiences.”

For the locals, craft breweries are becoming seriously entwined in the Sunshine Coast’s culture.

As Josh puts it: “Breweries have become part of the local fabric through supporting local charity, sporting teams, and providing a fun and inclusive environment for locals to call their home.”

But for those of us who see the Sunshine Coast as a destination to visit, the number and spread of breweries may seem unfamiliar and overwhelming. While Sunshine Coast tourism has helpfully mapped out the breweries of the region, you may want a seasoned hand to guide you as you navigate the area.

And who better than The Crafty Pint to act as your guide?


Brouhaha

 

Born in a small brewpub nestled in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, Brouhaha are now known across the country for their excellent beers – especially their fruited sours. The Strawberry Rhubarb (soured with local Maleny Dairies yoghurt) enjoyed a meteoric rise to prominence as Brouhaha’s most popular beer, and now serves as a kind of beacon for punters: "You think that’s good? Come see what else we do."

Brouhaha’s breezy and slick warehouse site in Baringa is a great place to try Brouhaha’s broad spectrum of beer styles. It’s spacious and shiny with 16 taps of the good stuff, a mezzanine lounge area, food trucks, regular live music, and an impressive playroom full toys and games to keep the kids entertained.

Or, of course, you can sneak out to tranquil Maleny and go to their spiritual home of Brouhaha. While it’s not exactly a secret – Brouhaha is far too popular for that – this brewpub feels like a hidden gem. From the moment you see the giant deckchair out the front, you know there’s relaxation to be had here. The cosy venue is full of rustic charm, centred around the long bar fronted with timber sourced from an old rail bridge and topped with reclaimed marble. There’s plenty of greenery, and the kitchen puts out a delightfully seasonal menu that’s rife with local produce.

 

 

But before you fall into the trap of thinking of this just as a quality restaurant, the long row of taps and the mass of brewing tanks squeezed into one end of the place remind you of Brouhaha’s core business: being a wellspring of good beer.

The huge Baringa brewery and taproom is at 1 Edison Crescent, Baringa. The Maleny brewpub where it all began is at 6/39 Coral Street, Maleny. You can even stay next door to the brewpub at the tastefully decorated Airbnbs – just search for Bedhaha and the four Baby Bedhaha listings.


Moffat Beach Brewing

 

Moffat Beach Brewing is another operation that started small before picking up some serious size and street cred. Matt and Shaz Wilson began MBBCo with a 300L brew kit wedged into the back of a café at Moffat Beach (then called Blackwater Trading Co), and slowly grew in popularity to the point where they needed to build a production brewery where the brewers pump out 2000L batches of consistently award-winning beer. (Don’t quote me on this, but I believe they may have more trophies than any other brewery currently operating in the country.)

This Production House on Caloundra Road has a taproom that immerses you in MBBCo’s wares. From any seat in the house, your eyes are full of beer: look one way, and see the forest of stainless steel beer tanks where the precious liquid is made; look the other, and see the bright green shipping container adorned with a mural of hop bines and over a dozen shining taps waiting to pour Moffat’s beer for you. There’s also an entire bench covered with MBBCo's trophies. It’s quite a sight.

 

 

The Beachside venue offers a different kind of view: one of the glorious beach from which the brewery draws its name. There are plenty of comfy spots inside where you can chill to live acoustic tunes and enjoy the buzz of a venue that feels like a friend’s lounge room, but the best seats in the house are outside; specifically, the stools up at the bench. 

A tinnie at the beach is good. But working through a tasting paddle of fresh beer while picking at hot chips and watching the waves? That’s is a joy that everyone should experience.

To see an ocean of beer, go to Moffat’s Production House at 51 Caloundra Road, Caloundra West. To see the actual ocean while you drink your beer, head to the Beachside venue at 12 Seaview Terrace, Moffat Beach.

Crafty Cabal Member offer at Moffat Beach Brewing Co: Free Tasting Paddle at Moffat Beach


Your Mates Brewing

 

Imaging a couple of fellas with a love of boating, fishing, surfing and four-wheel driving, and an aversion to covered-in shoes. Now imagine those guys opened a brewery.

That’s Your Mates.

Hep and McGarry are fun-loving larrikins, and Your Mates captures their very essence. From their flagship pale ale Larry to their far-reaching bar shouts, everything about the Your Mates brand says: “Pull up a stool and have a beer with us.”

Their brewery taproom captures what’s good about the local surf club while leaving behind everything else – you can sink a few while shooting pool and hearing live music, but there’s no sticky carpet or noisy pokies. The beer’s fresh and tasty, the parmis are hot, the game’s playing on a couple of screens, and the kids are catered for with a Little Mates menu and a fenced-in play area.

They say life moves a little slower at the coast, and the 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 12 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 crowd.

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.

Crafty Cabal Member offer at Your Mates Brewing: Buy 1 Schooner Get 1 Free at Your Mates


10 Toes

 

At 10 Toes Brewery, they call themselves the Good Vibe Beer Tribe. And they’re not wrong: the vibes are indeed good.

The brewery venue at Alexandra Headland is painted with brightly-coloured murals inside and out, matched by the equally bright stools littered throughout the place. Other happy-making decor includes parts of surfboards sticking out of the interior walls and a bunch of 44 gallon drums done up to look like 10 Toes beer cans. Throw in food trucks, live tunes on Sunday arvo, and long tables where punters can drink with friends old and new, and you’ve got everything you need for great vibes indeed; this is a place staff and customers alike enjoy hanging out.

Half the tap list serves up the 10 Toes regulars: the tropical Pipeline Pale Ale and punchy Lucid Dreams IPA, the new world Hell Yes Lager through to the smooth-as-you-like Alter Ego Vanilla Porter. The other half is an ever-changing mix of limited releases and fun flavours.

Peek through to the back of the place and you’ll see where the beer comes from. Stainless steel fermenting tanks fill the back of the place like pro-wrestlers packed into a Barina; since opening in 2016, 10 Toes have grown their brewing capacity a number of times to keep up with demand.

And at time of writing, the crew is partway through construction of a new brewery headquarters in Buderim, so watch this space for more good vibes.

10 Toes is at 4/127A Sugar Road, Alexandra Headland. Pull into the carpark opposite the Jaguar dealership and you’ll find it.


Sunshine Coast Brewery

 

Sunshine Coast Brewery has been around since 1998, making it not only the longest-running brewery on the coast (by about 17 years), but the longest-running microbrewery in Queensland. It boasts some illustrious alumni too: Ian Watson, Scotty Hargrave and Craig Wealand all brewed here early on in their careers. This brewery may be quiet, but it’s not to be overlooked.

Current owners Greg and Brigid Curran took over the reins in 2006, and from then they’ve focused on making what they call "traditional craft beer": traditional beer styles with the occasional Aussie coastal twist thrown in.

Can I just say, in a world gone hop mad, it’s lovely when you come across a brewery that isn’t afraid to hang out with malts. Whether it’s the honeyed malt character in the pale ale, the toffee notes of the Irish red, the deep caramel and chocolate of the porter, or the spicy bite of the rye extra special bitter, you’ll find that malts are often the lead role while hops are used as the back-up singers (depending on the style, of course).

Grab a tasting paddle, pull up on a pallet lounge out the front, and enjoy some traditional craft in the dappled sunshine. If you’re keen, you can even make friends with Simcoe, the brewery cat. (Greg said to me: “Chase him away if he’s annoying you.” Are you kidding me? I went over and sat next to him on purpose!)

You’ll find Sunshine Coast Brewery tucked away in Kunda Park at 13 Endeavour Drive.


Sunshine Brewery

 

You might not be familiar with Kuluin; it’s a little suburb of Maroochydore, just inland of the Sunshine Motorway. And right up the north end of it, wedged among a row of industrial businesses, is Sunshine Brewery.

A rusty water tank bearing the brewery’s logo is just the first piece of eclectic decor you’ll come across here. An old wooden surfboard hanging above the bar, a vintage beer can collection lining a shelf, a smattering of toolshed paraphernalia and a legit retro Vespa scooter all add to the atmosphere of this being the world’s coolest garage. Have a chinwag with owners Craig and Daryle, and you’ll find the couple can tell you the story of how each item came to live at the brewery.

Craig and Daryle see the greatest legacy of Sunshine Brewery as being a place that builds connections between people. They’ve seen locals go from being complete strangers to being fast friends as a result of the brewery taproom. In some ways, this spot is a community hub that just happens to make and serve a lot of beer (and supply a few independent bottleshops to boot).

But it’s important we don’t sell the beer short. At Sunshine Brewery, they’ve been pumping out the good stuff since 2017, and since then they’ve doubled the size of the brewhouse, they’ve increased their fermentation capacity, and they’ve expanded from ten to 16 taps. (“And we’re not putting in any more!” laughs Daryle.) Between their 16hL kit and their pilot brew kit, they keep those taps rolling with old favourites and forays into new styles alike.

Tasting all 16 beers at any given time is a task that probably shouldn’t be attempted. But a tasting paddle, a bite from a food truck, and a play area stacked with toys and games to keep the kidlets entertained? Well, that sounds workable.

Enjoy a warm welcome and a cold beer at 28 Fishermans Road, Kuluin. Don’t get Sunshine Brewery confused with Sunshine Coast Brewery – they’re unrelated businesses. But they’re in neighbouring suburbs, so you’d be crazy not to hit them both up.


Morts Brewing Co

 

We all know we’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover. We learned that when we were kids. But we still do it all the time.

It's easy to underestimate Morts Brewing Co from the outside. It’s a tiny hole in the wall tucked in behind a Liquor Legends, and feels a bit like you’re walking under someone’s house; although, to be fair, there is a sign and a scattering of stools and tables outside hinting that there’s something more here. Step inside and you’ll see that it is indeed a small venture – the equipment looks like a hybrid between a pimped-out homebrew setup and a microbrewery – but Morts punch above their weight.

With ten taps with no core range, owner and brewer Jamie Saville brews a constantly rotating range of styles; it only takes a month or so for all ten taps to turn over to something different. Jamie enjoys plumbing the depths of traditional styles, but also likes to explore new styles and innovative ingredients when the mood takes him. Thanks to his small setup, one thing he never has to do is skimp on ingredients: whether he’s making smooth-as-silk lagers or delightfully bitter West Coasts, Jamie’s always using exactly what malts and hops he feels work best in any particular brew.

A visit to Morts does feel a bit like you’re under someone’s house, but in a good way. Comfortable and familiar, this is a spot to bend an elbow with the regulars or chat yeast and hops with Jamie. And when you find your favourite brew, enjoy it while it’s there – it won’t be on for long.

Morts Brewing is keeping it fresh down Short Street, Nambour; head down the driveway to the right of the green bottle shop and you’ll find it. It’s only three minutes’ walk from the train station, making it a conveniently easy visit.


Other options

  • Kenilworth Hotel Brewery, 18 Elizabeth St, Kenilworth - Little ol’ Kenilworth is a rural town with a population of 604 people as at 2021, so you might not expect it to have decent beer. But head into the bar at the Kenilworth Hotel and you’ll find six taps of craft beer brewed on site. After managing for a few years with a hard-working 200L system, they’ve upgraded their brewhouse to put out more of the golden (and amber, and red, and dark…) stuff. If freshly brewed beer and smoked BBQ meats at a country pub are your bag, you’re in the right place. 
  • Sunshine Coast Craft Beer Tours - If you’ve got the sense that the Sunshine Coast is a huge, sprawling region… you’re right. Rather than make your own way around with a poor designated driver, you may like to jump on a tour with Sunshine Coast Craft Beer Tours to be driven around from brewery to brewery. Josh’s crew run a variety of pre-set tours, or you can customise one for you and your friends.

Ready to keep exploring the Sunny Coast? Check out our other guides to the Sunshine Coast, which look at the rest of the breweries on the coast and uncover the best venues and bottleshops in the region.

If you're heading there – or anywhere in Australia for that matter – you'll find all of the breweries above alongside 1300-and-counting breweries and good beer retailers in the free Crafty Pint app.

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