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26 February, 2021

What's Brewing?

A few weeks ago we highlighted some of the small bars that are slowly opening up across Cairns.

By Phil Brandel

A few weeks ago we highlighted some of the small bars that are slowly opening up across Cairns. This time we are concentrating on craft beer. For the past few years,  20 Craft breweries have slowly been overtaking the bigger breweries and Cairns is in no short supply of places to whet your whistle and try a locally made amber nectar.

Coral Sea Brewing Company
The Coral Sea Brewing Company (CSBC) started making beer commercially available in 2015. Owner Hayden Mokaraka said he had been home brewing for 20 years around Australia. “After home brewing for 5 years in Queensland it was time to expand.” he said.

Originally CSBC was only supplying beer to restaurants across Cairns before opening the bar to the public two years ago.

The good news is when visiting the CSBC, it’s right besides Sauce Brewing company, so you don’t have to go to far to taste various brews.

Signature drink – IPA “Amazing malt notes, it’s a well-rounded beautiful IPA”

Hours - 7 days a week from 12pm till late.

Location  - 34-40 Lake St, Cairns City, to access the tap room go via Bank Lane off 15 Spence Street.

Sauce Brewing

Sauce Brewing originally started after a late night thought bubble of “We should open a brewery!” The very first brewery was in in Marrickville in Sydney in 2017. Founder of Sauce Brewing Mike Clarke said he wanted to expand The Sauce experience, opening The Cairns Brewery in September of last year.“We opened a tourism business in one of the worst hit areas for tourism during a pandemic,” he said. 

Mike was also a homebrewer and after working in IT for 20 years decided he wanted a change. “We have 18 taps here and we make 7 permanent core range beers and 5 rotating beers.”

Signature drink – Bubble and squeak – “A New England IPA, overloaded with late hops, delivering a tropical delight.”

Hours – Wednesday to Sunday from 11am till late

Location – 34-40 Lake St, Cairns City.

Macalister Brewing Company
Opening in 2018 Macalister’s was a breath of fresh air to Northern Beaches residents who didn’t want to travel into the CBD to have a craft brew or two.

Brewery owner Rob Macalister, who is a trained chemist, said he wanted the industrial feel to the brewery “We wanted to be a brewery first and foremost and looking out over of the cane fields just adds to the appeal,” he said.

Macalister’s also doesn’t have a kitchen, instead food trucks park out the front supplying different types of food on a rotating basis.

Signature drink – Latitude 17 – “It has a lovely light fruity taste with a gentle hop bitterness and a crisp finish.”

Hours – Wednesday to Sunday 12 till late.

Location - 6 Danbulan St, Smithfield.

The biggest small brewery in Cairns, Hemingway’s opened first in Port Douglas in 2016 and then in Cairns in 2018.Originally opened by two mates who upon returning from a fishing trip, they were looking for fresh craft beer. Realising there was a gap in the market, they decided to start a craft brewery.

Alex Loughton who is the Marketing Lead at Hemmingway’s said they have a core range of 8 beers. “We also make limited small releases throughout the year and we also have a nano range of 1 keg batches,” he said.

Signature Beer – The Prospector “A pilsner style which won a gold medal trophy at the Australian International Beer Awards in 2019.”

Hours – 12 – 10pm 7 days a week.

Location - Wharf St, Cairns City.

 Red Dragon Brewery

If you want to take your beer appreciation to another level. Red Dragon Brewery lets you make your own beer, to your own recipe, with your own label and then take it home.

Manager Steve Wertheim said they started making beer for local bars and restaurants in 2011 which then morphed into allowing the general public to make their own beer. “You can brew your own beer on site, then we bottle it and you can take it home,” he said.

“There’s also a tasting fridge for people to try what beer they like.”

 “We can brew about 120 different beers.”

Signature Beer - Whiplash Pale Ale – “A Golden coloured, light bodied beer with medium bitterness, medium hop aroma and a clean crisp finish.”

Hours – 8.30 till 5pm Monday to Saturday.

Location - 2/5 Bramp Cl, Portsmith.

Caption - Beers getting ready at The Red Dragon Brewery in Portsmith.

  Barrier Reef Brewing Co

One of the first microbreweries to open in Cairns, Barrier Reef Brewing Co started in producing beer in 2015.

Founder and brewer Cameron McPherson said he had been learning to make beer in Scotland. “When I moved back I wanted a career change and there seemed like there was a gap in the market for craft beer,” he said.

“The front part of the brewery was turned into a tap room in 2018 and we relaunched it with a beer garden late last year.

“We have 8 beers on tap and occasional one-off specials.”

Signature drink – Two Turtles Pale Ale – “It’s our most popular beer it was pale ale that was developed with Cairns in mind”.

Hours - Thursday 4 – 7pm, Friday 4-8pm and Saturday 2-6pm.

Location - 2/17 Johnston St, Stratford.

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