March 31, 2014 by Crafty Pint
One of Queensland’s newest brewing companies, Fortitude, celebrated its first birthday this month with its second annual Noisy Minor Shout, which saw the brewing team take invited guests on the tour of some of their favourite Brisbane bars showcasing beers from its second label. They have plenty to shout about too, having just announced they are taking over the former Mt Tamborine Brewery, thereby expanding their capacity significantly and giving themselves a ready-made, and highly impressive, cellar door.
Up until now, head brewer Ian Watson has been producing all Fortitude and Noisy Minor beers at their original home, the former Eagle Heights Brewery less than one kilometre away. The move gives them pretty much five times their existing capacity, which will come as a great relief to Ian who has been struggling to keep up with demand for his beers. The move will take place in April, with the intention to have the cellar door open by May at the latest.
“It needs some little bits and pieces done to it,” says Ian. “But we can just get in and go for it straight away. We hope to be bottling by July or August.”
The impressive venue, which was still producing Mt Tamborine beers right up until the handover, shares a site with Witches Chase Cheese Factory, something which will no doubt appeal to the foodie in the brewer, as well as visitors.
The move should also allow Fortitude and Noisy Minor to introduce more new beers. The limited capacity has meant that, to date, other than events such as the recent Shout, the focus has been on keeping up production of Fortitude’s Golden Ale and Noisy Minor ANZUS IPA with only occasional supplementary releases. Among them is an Aussie lager that the self-confessed Belgian beer lover has grown rather fond of.
“It’s a simple beer,” says Ian, “but I thought it would be a bit contrary to what everyone else does. We made it for an event in Toowoomba and the whole batch sold in a day. It’s not Carlton Draught but it’s not Knappstein either. It’s what I think it should be â easy to drink and reasonably dry, hoppy and not too assertive. It’s just grown really, really strongly.
“People are always looking to do something different and out-of-the-box. So why not just go for the beer that everyone reckons they despise? We’ve been getting some pretty surprising reactions with a few beer geeks saying they don’t like lagers and then trying this and saying it’s actually pretty good.”
The imminent move will mean much more beer, which means Ian and brewery founders Ged Connors and Jim OâConnor have brought in a familiar face from the Queensland beer scene to help them spread the word far and wide. Dan Rawlings was involved in getting Archive Beer Boutique off the ground and, more recently, has been Holgate’s man locally.
Ged says: âDan brings a great skills set and a wealth of experience to the role. He has been at the forefront of the craft beer revolution in Brisbane, and as a local boy we believe he is the perfect fit to help us grow our brand – on the mountain, in Southeast Queensland and interstate.â
For Dan it is a new challenge, with his intention to take the beers nationwide.
âI cannot thank Paul and Natasha Holgate enough for the opportunity to represent their brewery in Queensland. They are amazing people who will continue to do well in the Sunshine State,“ he says.
“I was attracted to the role at Fortitude as a massive personal challenge â helping to grow something local and build a brand which is still less than 12 months old, looking after the whole country for sales and reinvigorating the cellar door on the mountain, as well as the added bonus of improving my brewing skills under the watchful eye of one of the best brewers in the country. Expect big things from Fortitude and its little brother Noisy Minor in the next couple of years.â
Once beer is flowing from the new brewery, look out for a series of interstate launches for their beers, which up until now have only been available in their home state.