A craft beer revolution is sweeping the nation, as lovers of the humble coldie abandon big corporations in favour of the handcrafted wares of local boutique brewhouses. There are literally hundreds of craft breweries operating across the country, but here are eight amazing options to tick off on your travels. And yes, it was a hard job compiling this list, but somebody had to do it!
BentSpoke Brewing Co (Canberra, ACT)
Canberra is home to six or seven craft brewing outfits, but the wares of the BentSpoke Brewing Company should definitely be on your list of must-try-tipples in the capital. From humble beginnings in home brewing, today BentSpoke has a bustling brewpub in trendy Braddon, an on-the-way production scale brewery and a growing distribution network. However, it definitely retains its local focus and flavour. The two-storey brewpub has a great atmosphere, and offers a range of 18 house-brewed beers on tap. The refreshing Mort’s Gold Lager and Barley Griffin Pale Ale are great all-rounders, while the sour and salty How’s It Gosen? is a more acquired taste.
Need a place to stay? Quality Hotel Dickson Canberra offers comfortable and contemporary accommodation, and onsite club facilities, including a restaurant, café, wine bar and lounge.
Hemingway’s Brewery (Cairns, QLD)
Hemingway’s Brewery is FNQ-owned and operated, and has two popular brewpubs: the original up in Port Douglas, and a newer addition in Cairns which opened in 2018. Housed in a vast space in the heritage-listed Cairns Wharf Complex (dating back to the first half of the 20th century), visitors to the city will love this venue. Not only can you beat the heat over a cold beer, but the brewery offers a great menu of pub classics that are reasonably priced. The venue houses the brewery itself, alongside indoor and outdoor dining spaces with views over Trinity Inlet. There are usually ten taps serving Hemingway’s product, including flagship drops like the super clean Tunnel 10 Lager and refreshing 7th Heaven Tropical Ale.
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Need a place to stay? Comfort Inn Cairns City offers affordable accommodation on the edge of the CBD, just a short walk from cafes, bars and restaurants.
Eagle Bay Brewing Co (Margaret River, WA)
Tucked away on the Cape Naturaliste headland in Margaret River, Eagle Bay Brewing Company is one of those finds that you’ll continue to think about long after you’ve drained the last drop from your glass. This stylish family-owned and operated eatery, microbrewery and vineyard is located on a working farm, and overlooks paddocks, verdant bushland and the Indian Ocean in the distance. The dining menu here is a tad more upscale than your traditional brewpub and incorporates a range of shared grazing platters that showcase the produce Margaret River is renowned for. In terms of the all-important beer, the core range of six small batch brews includes a citrusy pale ale and golden Kolsch. This is small scale, but immaculately done.
Need a place to stay? Comfort Inn Busselton River Resort is just a short drive from Cape Naturaliste, and the many wineries of Margaret River are also within easy reach.
4 Brothers Brewing (Toowoomba, QLD)
Across to Toowoomba in Queensland’s Darling Downs, which is home to 4 Brothers Brewing. This is what local, grassroots brewing is all about. 4 Brothers is located in a fairly nondescript part of town, but that doesn’t stop local patrons streaming in. Owned and operated by Lockyer local Adrian Cubit (yes, one of four brothers), the small combined brewery and taproom occupies part of the heritage-listed Downs Co-Operative Dairy Factory. There are plans for expansion and a move into the CBD, but for now you can pull up a pew out front with a tasting paddle of top drops like the Lazy Brother Pale Ale, Arrogant Brother Smoked Beer, Toowoomba Lager and Country Pumpkin Ale.
Need a place to stay? Browse Toowoomba accommodation options
The Welder’s Dog (Tamworth, NSW)
The country’s capital of country music is home to a swag of pubs and bars, but The Welder’s Dog is something pretty special. This tale of innovative locally brewed beverages began with the opening of a brewery and beer bar up in Armidale in 2014. The Tamworth venue opened in 2017 in what was originally a grain store, and has been well and truly embraced by the town. It was standing room only the night we visited and what’s not to love? Among its repertoire, The Welder’s Dog counts a crisp pale ale, a malty sour ale, an alcoholic pink lemonade and a naturally fermented alcoholic ginger beer. They’re all amazing. There’s also a novel approach to eats. Serve yourself from the platter food fridge stocked with local specialties, or BYO tucker!
Need a place to stay? Browse Tamworth accommodation options
Thirsty Crow Brewing Co (Wagga Wagga, NSW)
Wagga’s family-owned Thirsty Crow Brewing Company makes great beer and pizzas, and also likes to get creative with the branding of both. The core beer range includes the Piranha Lager (with bite), the Vanilla Milk Stout (sporting mocha and malt flavours), and the popular Sporting Ale – a nod to the phrase ‘Wagga Effect’ coined by the Australian Institute of Sport. Pizzas include the vegetable-laden Unemployed Scarecrow and Sunday Roast (complete with roasted lamb and potatoes).
Need a place to stay? Browse Wagga Wagga accommodation options
King River Brewing (King Valley/Wangaratta, VIC)
It’s a two hour drive south of Wagga to the Victorian city of Wangaratta, which is the gateway to the renowned King Valley wine region. It’s worth the drive for beer lovers, as the Valley is also home to King River Brewing. There are few brewhouses in Australia with a more idyllic setting, and proprietors Nathan and Brianna are wonderful hosts. The microbrewery’s taproom is located in what was once a tobacco drying kiln (many of the properties along the King River were originally Italian tobacco farms), and everything is brewed on site. If you’re hungry (which you will be when you see what’s coming out of the wood-fired oven) choose from the menu of freshly made pizzas.
Need a place to stay? Quality Hotel Wangaratta Gateway features a range of stylish and sophisticated room types, along with a popular in-house restaurant and bar.
Queenscliff Brewhouse (Queenscliff/Geelong, VIC)
There’s a whole lot of deliciousness going on across the Bellarine Peninsula south-east of Geelong. Winemaking, brewing, distilling and gourmet food production are all big business, and they’re all on show at the popular Queenscliff Brewhouse. The brewery produces a core range of six or seven beers on site, along with the Prickly Moses range at a separate site in the Otway Ranges. The Brewhouse’s Tastes of the Region menu is great value, and includes a tasting board of local foodstuffs and a beer paddle or wine flight of five local drops for just $30 per person (at the time of writing).
Related: Five regional destinations to visit this summer
Need a place to stay? Quality Hotel Bayside Geelong is located on the Esplanade and offers amazing water views. It’s the ideal base for exploring everything the Bellarine Peninsula has to offer.
About the writer
Adam Ford is editor of The Big Bus tour and travel guide and a travel TV presenter, writer, blogger and photographer. He has previously had the opportunity to travel the world as host of the TV series Tour the World on Network Ten.