June 10, 2014 by 250 Beers
The last time I visited Mt Tamborine was under the guise of a Sunday family drive for lunch. The 250 Beers family headed there last year to visit the MT Brewery. I sold the idea to my wife and kids and they bought it.
Last weekend we made the same journey – which is approximately a three-hour round trip for us – although this time around it was different. I’d been prattling on for weeks about how Fortitude Brewing had taken the reins of the brewery. With this in mind Mrs 250 Beers knew that a request for another jaunt to Mt Tamborine was on the cards. Her understanding of my keen obsession with beer has evolved somewhat since the necessity to disguise brewery visits as family outings.
I’d waited patiently for Fortitude Brewing to personalise and put the finishing touches to their new venue. Fortitude signage. Tick. Kitchen and pizza menu sorted. Tick. Merchandise printed and in stock. Tick. Let’s go…
It’s immediately obvious that there is a new breath of fresh air to the place. Whilst the building is exactly the same in a structural sense, a sparkling vibrancy is there for all to see and feel. Staff that are chipper enough to assist whilst employing smiles on their faces sure helps. Plus, the inclusion of live music is a masterstroke for lazy Sunday afternoons.
There were far more visitors present in comparison to our previous visit. It was difficult to determine whether those people were locals or out-of-towners like us – there for a snoop.
Leaning against the bar trying to catch the attention of one of those happy bartenders, I set eyes on Ali Orchard. She caught a glimpse of me at the same time and we simultaneously blurted out “What are you doing here?!”
Ali is head chef at Tippler’s Tap and Tomahawk Bar. She was giving the Fortitude pizzas an Ali-ing. Lucky Fortitude.
Unfortunately for me – and despite the pizzas looking and smelling fantastic – they’re not a favourite of my two youngest boys so we opted to order food from the bistro situated next door. By ‘next door’ I mean a few metres away. The complex includes the bistro and cheese shop that both still remain in place from the MT days. Despite boasting Fortitude taps, this eatery is a separate business to the Fortitude brew bar/cellar door. Silly me forgot this and, with a tasting paddle in hand, I was kindly asked to turn around due to licensing restrictions. It was a little frustrating because my wife and children were already seated inside. Beer wins. We moved. I doubt that I was the first to fall foul and I certainly won’t be the last.
My Fortitude branded paddle was loaded with the first five beers from the beer menu. I was told that the Fortitude Stout wasn’t available so the Noisy Minor RSVP would be poured in its place. There were no arguments from me. If a barman wishes to substitute a 4.0% stout (which is a solid stout) with a 6.2% rum smoked vanilla porter I’m not going to stand there and bicker with him. The other four in situ were Fortitude’s Summer Light, Standard Lager, Original Golden Ale and the Noisy Minor ANZUS IPA.
I reckon there were probably ten people at the bar trying to order beer whilst I was muscling in to do the same. Beer listings on clipboards are great but not when there are hordes of people trying to share two of them. I’m told that a blackboard to be pitched high is on the way. This is a must in my opinion. Chalk and blackboards are a tried, tested and staple necessity at craft beer venues with multiple and often changing taps. This brew bar has fifteen – yes, FIFTEEN – taps all pouring different Fortitude and Noisy Minor beers. In a way I’m glad that we live an hour and a half away. It would be dangerously dangerous if we lived close by. Fifteen!
The beer, as you would expect from a cellar door was tasting fresh, fresh, fresh. The stand-out for me was the Noisy Minor ANZUS IPA. It was simply exploding with freshness and bursting with citrus zest that screamed “I want to come home with you!”
I extinguished to those imaginary cries by deciding to purchase a growler and have it filled with the mighty ANZUS. Oh yes, 1.89 litres of ANZUS destined to be consumed at 250 Beers HQ. Now who’s the lucky one?
The vessels are referred to as ‘flagons’ on site. I was under the impression that 64fl oz/1.89l glass bottles are ‘growlers’ as opposed to the New Zealand favoured ‘flagon’ – although flagons have no set measure. I much prefer the term ‘growler’ if I’m truthful. The slightly rude connotation makes me chuckle. Perhaps that’s why the description has been avoided on Mount Tamborine?
Let’s face it – grabbing hold of a growler was always going to happen. I’m a little bit geeky so it wasn’t simply the fact that I was looking forward to pouring beer from one at home; it was also because they are dual branded with both Fortitude AND Noisy Minor logos. It’s enough to arouse the beer geek boner in anybody.
Other highlights from the fifteen taps were the never-tried-by-me-before Fortitude Toasted Lager which brings an obvious yet subtle sweetness to a quaffable lager. Another very clean drop was the newly debuted and highly sessionable witbier – Fortitude White – which I was pleasantly surprised by. I have a ‘take it or leave it’ type of attitude towards witbiers. I have to really be in the mood for one because over-the-top use of coriander doesn’t do much for me. This White was more fruity as opposed to being packed with coriander and a perfect palate cleanser after my meal.
Judging by the amount of different draught beers available I would suggest that head brewer Ian Watson is making the most of his new-found freedom. Having a 24hL brew house to play with compared to the limited resources at their previous 5hL home must be a brewers dream.
I’m certainly not going to let the lack of blackboard or a frowning bistro worker deter me from going back.
Thirst world problems have never been obstacles for me. Another Sunday drive up the mountain will almost definitely occur.