My Year In Beer: Beers, Ideas, Lessons and Visit Tips From 51 Brewery Experiences in 2019

My year in beer for 2019 has come and gone and while I’ve had a very enjoyable year working in beer (have a read of this article here on my experience working in the craft beer industry) I’ve also had a very satisfying time getting out and about to check out as many craft breweries as I can on my travels.

It’s been rewarding to meet the hard-working people behind the breweries and to try and learn as much as I can about the industry as well as just sample their tasty brews as well as try and get more people and my mates into drinking better quality beer and supporting these local Aussie indie brewers and businesses. 

The industry has so much positivity and enthusiasm from the talented insiders and passionate fans alike who like me love elements such as the tinnie art, talking to the people at the breweries, traveling for beer tourism and beer road trips, collecting too much beer gear merch, learning about the sustainability and environmental approaches as well as experimenting with all the different and diverse flavours and aromas of the brews while at the same time supporting local Aussie businesses. Honestly, how good does it make you feel!

I quickly thought I’d put a bit of a blog post together that both wraps up my year in beer travels as well as provides some insights, ideas, lessons and also some tips for anyone planning on visiting some of these specific breweries listed below. Please feel free to touch base if you’re after any travel tips for these breweries as I’d be happy to help.  Thanks for reading. Enjoy this with a cold brew and bring on 2020.

Key Facts:

  • 51 breweries
  • 49 independent craft breweries
  • 4 states and 1 territory
  • Queensland 10
  • Victoria 20
  • Tasmania 7
  • Western Australia 7
  • New South Wales 6
  • 1 Beervana Festival
  • 1 New Zealand brewery
  • Beers consumed: Lost count. 
  • Best beers: 3 Ravens Pine Lime Creamsicle and T-Bone Brewing Peanut Butter Stout. Too many to list.
  • Best experiences: Felons for the view, Moon Dog World for the crazy set up, Stomping Ground for the beer notes and unique kids play area and Two Bays for giving me a job! Again, too many to list. 

Lessons, Ideas and Insights:

  • Merch. Some really unique, on-trend and new stuff this year from socks to cord caps, canimals to well-designed growlers and enamel pins to beer vouchers. I wrote this blog a few months back about beer merch too that’s worth a look. 
  • Merch stands. Having a colorful, vibrant, creative merch stand with well-designed merch entices more people to take a souvenir away from the brewery.
  • Contact details. Ensuring correct times/addresses/key details are always up to date on social pages/websites and use of bots to streamline punter Q’s on social. 
  • Fridges. Vibrant take away fridges with special deals, mixed packs or added incentives for punters.
  • Glassware. I think Range wins this one for the nicest glassware. Love the glasses there. Goes a long way to have a nice clean glass to enjoy with your brews.
  • Tasting paddles. Townsville Brewery represented the best value for volume. Also like Fixation, having a funky paddle design to put them in goes a long way too for the social posts.
  • Venue architecture. Kids spaces, outdoor seating, plants and garden beds, creative taps (Burleigh’s skate deck ones win this) and you can also never go wrong with astroturf- that’s actually one of the tenents I live by in life too. Love the stuff! Stomping Ground’s kids area is a marvelous example of providing a positive experience for families and kids.
  • Food. The abundance of vegan and GF menu’s in taprooms showcases the inclusive industry this is and draws in more people at the same time. Having the availability of GF beers, spiced ciders, mulled wines, spritz’s, organic or local soft drinks, kombuchas, etc all are smart options to cater to everyone not just beer drinkers.
  • Tasting notes. Stomping Ground seems the most detailed and I do love seeing extensive notes about the beers I’m drinking.
  • Signage. Neon signs look amazing at night or on wet days, signs out the front or simple wayfinding and well-lit spaces to attract.
  • Fan engagement. Live local music, trivia nights, beer memberships/clubs (Inner North’s 100-pint beer club/Range’s run club/ Otherside’s ‘buy a bit of the brewery’), ‘Dogs of Grifter’ also a cute idea to engage the local community. There are so many things these breweries and more are doing and I’ve put this list together and these articles a while back that details more on craft beer fan engagement ideas. 
  • Stickers/Email EDM’s. Burnley’s free stickers for an email sign up. Beer geeks love slapping a sticker on their car or fridge. Just ask me, I’ve got about 50 on the back of my LandCruiser.
  • Brewery tours. Some good ones around from free quick tours of the tanks to $25 tours which included a paddle. These really are one and the same and honestly what more can these be at any brewery anywhere in the world, but the best ones were where I got to talk to the actual people behind the brewery about pain points, local issues and their successes and lessons learned. Obviously that’s me and other folks just want to hear how beer is made. Just talk to the staff about day to day life in beer and find out what that brewery is doing in the local community.
  • Freebies/Deals. 3 Ravens have a box of past beer decals and stickers that you can pick up a memento for a buck. Even just having beer coasters goes a long way as I know many mates who take one as a memento.
  • Sustainability. Loads of sustainability initiatives around the breweries like solar power to bio cups but I like how some offer a free pot or just a beer for bringing back your biopak holders.
  • Little touches. The hydration water station at Black Hops looks impressive and more than just jugs of water.
  • Beer tourism. Smart ideas like the Brisbane and Marickville ‘Beermuda Triangles’.
  • Space. Ample spaces for functions and events with different seating options. Industrial fans when it’s stinking hot or burners when it’s chilly.
  • Beer lists. Clear and concise signage and layouts for cost, beer style, ABV, small note on taste/flavour makes these pop when the person is standing in line to order and easier for the punter to choose which speeds up the service.
  • Accessibility/Transport. Moon Dog World’s massive bike rack area that encourages people to ride in was impressive to see.

 

QUEENSLAND (10)

Range Brewing Co, Newstead, Queensland

  • Fascinating brewery
  • Incredible beers
  • Simple open and airy aesthetic
  • Knowledgeable and friendly staff
  • A must visit

Townsville Brewery, Townsville, Queensland

  • Great value for money for tasting paddle
  • Lovely old Queensland building to marvel at
  • Huge range of beers
  • Lots of art to admire
  • Great staff who were keen for a chat.

Burleigh Brewing Co, Burleigh, Queensland

  • The taps are some of the best in Oz. What a creative idea.
  • Lots of space for all
  • Live music and movie nights
  • Surfboard set up is sweet

Black Hops II, Biggera Waters, Queensland

  • Very nifty ideas here
  • Hydration station
  • Biopack return point
  • Effective signage
  • Funky tap set up
  • Great merch area

Semi Pro Brewing Co, Wolloongabba, Queensland

  • Delicious beers
  • Cool spot at the Gabba- go here before a Lions or cricket game.
  • Lots of seating
  • Kids/family inclusive with good spaces for all
  • TV’s for the cricket etc
  • Lovely staff members

Fortitude Brewing Co, Tamborine Mountain, Queensland

  • Secluded and tranquil brewery
  • Lots of parking and other attractions nearby like cheese and local produce.
  • Live music stage set up is cool
  • Very friendly and passionate staff

Balter Brewing Co, Currumbin, Queensland

  • Nice wall art
  • I loved my BEER cap until I lost it!
  • Coasters and beers all enjoyable.
  • Friendly staff.

Lost Palms Brewing Co, Miami, Queensland

  • Love the design and aesthetic of this brewery
  • Bonus points for giving us some stickers for the car and fridge to promote them
  • I love their art too.

Felons Brewing Co, Brisbane, Queensland

  • Location, location, location is the best bit here.
  • Get a spot overlooking the Brisbane River and grab one of their tasty brews.

Black Hops, Burleigh Heads, Queensland

  • The OG!
  • Love their merch range especially the beer socks.

NEW SOUTH WALES (6)

Stone and Wood Brewing Co, Byron Bay, New South Wales

  • Creative merch area- stands out.
  • Heaps of space for punters inside and out.

Devil’s Elbow Brewing Co, Dubbo, New South Wales

  • Brand new brewery
  • What a win for locals out here
  • Extensive beer list and tasting notes
  • Lots of parking and places to sit

Grifter Brewing Co, Marrickville, Sydney, New South Wales

  • Dogs of Grifter was a highlight as were the beers

Stockade Brewery, Marrickville, Sydney, New South Wales

  • Sours were mint

Batch Brewing Co, Marrickville, Sydney, New South Wales

  • Nice glassware
  • Bonus points for lush hanging trees and nice setting

Sauce Brewing Co, Marrickville, Sydney, New South Wales

  • Cool setting out the back
  • Delicious beers here. I was very surprised.

TASMANIA (6)

Hobart Brewing Co, Hobart, Tasmania

  • Epic dark beers
  • Cool merch long sleeve shirts
  • Nice fire areas
  • Bonus points for spiced hot apple cider

Cascade Brewery, Hobart, Tasmania

  • Spun the chocolate wheel and won a carton of retro Cascade tinnies. Was a good day.

Moo Brew at MONA, Tasmania

  • The beer vending machine is hilarious and such a cool concept
  • Nice setting up the top of MONA to try their beers- was quite cheap too given the location

Shambles Brewing Co, Hobart, Tasmania

  • Quality staff up for a chat
  • Great beer list signage
  • Stout was impressive
  • Lots of space out the front to chill under a burner

The Winston, Hobart, Tasmania

  • HUGE beer list
  • Great beer notes
  • Pumping atmosphere
  • Add it to your Tassie list
  • Friendly staffers

Bruny Island Brewing Co, Bruny Island, Tasmania

  • Such a nice setting here
  • Pick up local produce too
  • Stout was insanely good
  • Pack the jumpers and head here if visiting Tassie
  • Loved the tallies.

T-Bone Brewing Co, Hobart, Tasmania

  • Peanut Butter Stout was simply delicious.
  • Cool wall art
  • Funky location in North Hobart
  • Nice staffers
  • Cool merch

VICTORIA (19)

Stomping Ground Beer Hall, Melbourne, Victoria

  • Kids Zone is a clever idea
  • Extensive beer notes
  • Very family-friendly and inclusive

Inner North Brewing Co, Brunswick, Victoria

  • Greenery around the venue is a plus
  • Nice staff up for a chat
  • Cool location down a back street in Brunny
  • Doing impressive beers
  • Nice beer list signage
  • Cool 100-pint membership club….I’m still on 3.

Queenscliff Brewhouse, Prickly Moses Brewing, Queenscliff, Victoria

  • Cheery staff
  • Pumping atmosphere inside and out the back
  • Cool barrel display
  • Nice beer art
  • Good beer lists

Jetty Road Brewing Co, Dromana, Victoria

  • Impressive beers AND food! Food is a winner here
  • Extensive beer art
  • Happy staffers

Urban Alley Brewing, Docklands, Melbourne, Victoria

  • A huge line up of brews
  • Well worth coming here if here for shopping in Docklands or going to an AFL etc game
  • Staff are always polite and friendly

Salt Brewing Co, Airey’s Inlet, Victoria

  • Quiet outdoor setting to enjoy
  • Lots of beer merch and good designs too
  • Beers were delicious
  • Extensive beer notes
  • Staff more than up for a chin wag

Two Bays Brewing Co, Dromana, Victoria

(Disclaimer- I work here but visited as a punter in February before starting out in March)

  • All gluten-free beers and taproom food
  • Vegan menu. We came out here because wife is vegan and she was very impressed
  • Dromana in the Mornington Peninsula is a magnificent 1-hour drive from Melbourne and you can take in a heap of other breweries like Jetty Road, Dainton, Mr Banks, Mornington Peninsula Brewery and loads more.

Valhalla Brewing Co, Geelong, Victoria

  • Owner is a champion fella and had a good chat with him here
  • Nice spot in centre of town and an hour from Melbourne or less
  • Huge beer list

Blackmans Brewery, Torquay, Victoria

  • Lots of merch
  • Lots of seating areas
  • Friendly staff
  • Yum beers

Southern Bay Brewing Co, Geelong, Victoria

  • Great chat with the owner
  • Not open for visits though so not worth rocking up as I did
  • Not much in this part of town
  • Black IPA was delicious

Burnley Brewing Co, Melbourne, Victoria

  • Love the beer socks
  • Lots of clever merch ideas
  • Free stickers
  • Huge beer list
  • Happy hour $4 beers are incredible
  • Lots of events here
  • Quality, happy staffers
  • Mint glassware

Moon Dog World, Preston, Victoria

  • Interesting!
  • Lot of spaces to chill out in
  • Vegan/GF menu
  • Some cool activities to be had here
  • Lots of merch items
  • Bike racks out the front are smart to encourage cycling in

Moon Dog Brewery, Abbotsford, Victoria

  • Another OG
  • Well worth a visit
  • Funky set up
  • Great beer list and happy staff

Black Dog Brewing Co, Taminick, Victoria

  • Stopped here when traveling back to Brisbane up the Newell Highway
  • Make a stop in it’s worth it
  • Lots of beer styles
  • Picked up a cap- love a black dog!

Fixation Brewing Co, Collingwood, Victoria

  • All about the IPA’s
  • Nice glassware
  • Creative beer paddles
  • Such kind, friendly staff
  • Nice beer list wall

Thunder Road Brewing Co, Brunswick, Victoria

  • Chilled place in Brunswick
  • Lots of beer varieties to suit all tastes
  • Plenty of events
  • Good pricing for craft beers

Detour Brewing Co, Coldstream, Victoria

  • Did a day road trip out here- not far from Melbourne – the scenery is sublime.
  • Unsure whats happening as says ‘permanently closed’ on google
  • Cool merch 
  • Nice staff- brewer had the time for a chat
  • Let me take a pic behind the bar.

Temple Brewing Co, Brunswick, Victoria 

  • Nice spot any day of the week
  • Some of the nicest people work here
  • Huge beer list

3 Ravens Brewing Co, Thornbury, Victoria

  • Scene of one of my favourite beers for 2019
  • Love the beer club here
  • Great use of ex-stickers/beer decals selling for a $1 or $2
  • Such a chilled space
  • Quality staff make this an inclusive space

Future Mountain Brewing and Blending, Reservoir, Victoria

  • Seriously good brews
  • Extensive beer notes
  • Amazing glassware
  • Staff that give a damn

WESTERN AUSTRALIA (7)

Gage Roads Brewing Co, Palmyra, Western Australia

  • Such a good visit but no brewery tours here
  • Good to try the other Gage varieties like Hello Sunshine and Atomic before launch
  • Good to get the Gage beers at Optus Stadium too

Otherside Brewing Co, Myaree, Western Australia

  • Wow! What a venue.
  • Love the ‘buy a bit of the brewery’ idea
  • Colourful takeaway fridge
  • A must visit in Perth.

Blasta Brewing Co, Burswood, Western Australia

  • Live local music
  • Good beer lists
  • Nice crew
  • Close to transport. Came here before State of Origin.

Little Creatures Brewing Co, Fremantle, Western Australia

  • Very cool merch- love the hop hats
  • Cool branded cars for photo ops
  • Quality beers 
  • A very nice experience that’s well worth checking out in Freo

NowhereMan Brewing Co, West Leederville, Western Australia

  • Great quality glasses and brews
  • Friendly staff 

Nail Brewing Co, Bassendean, Western Australia

  • Unparalleled hospitality 
  • No brewery tour but unbelievable experience meeting this legend
  • Get behind Nail-they do amazing things!

Beerland Brewing Co, Perth, Western Australia

  • Love the beer club idea
  • Pumping atmosphere

Garage Project Fermentation Workshop, Wellington, New Zealand

  • Very lucky to be able to take this in
  • Some of the best beers in the world
  • Amazing hospitality

Beervana, Wellington, New Zealand

  • No words, just go do this!

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