Last week I was sent to the city of Townsville, North Queensland for work. I was very excited by this…not the work part of course; this was my chance to finally visit the Townsville Brewery. I’d heard many good things about this place, but also had a slight trepidation based on bad experiences I’d had in other North Queensland ‘Breweries’. So on a warm September evening, armed with a pen, notebook, and huge thirst, I ventured forth…
Why was I there??
One of my Brisbane colleagues visited the brewery earlier this year, and came back with stories of “burgers the size of dinner plates and beers for only $2”. His description of the beer available was less exciting, commenting that it was “…pretty much like XXXX…” , which is typical fare in North Queensland. Their website promotes a wide array of beer styles brewed on site, and my hope was that at least one of these would satisfy my ‘snobbish’ side.
It should be noted that it was HOT that day, which isn’t unusual for Townsville. By the time I got to the Brewery my thirst was that of a typical Queenslander, ready to be satiated by anything cold and wet. ‘Fancy’ flavours weren’t at the forefront of my needs. I met a workmate there at about 5pm, and the tasting began!
Any ‘ambience’ to mention??
The Brewery is located in what was once the old post office. The building retains an old charm that is very inviting. I don’t usually care much for architecture, but I was very impressed by the building itself. Quite often I found myself staring up lovingly at the buildings clock tower from my perch on the back patio (the beer contributed to these enamoured feelings, I swear). Inside was just as nice, with dim lighting that gave the place a very hip vibe. The clientele were a nice mix; beautiful young ladies beginning their night with dinner and drinks in the restaurant to the older local gents contently sipping their Irish ales at the bar. I’d be happy to call this place my local.
Most important…how’s the BEER??
I sampled six of the brews on offer; however after my fourth schooner my ability to quantify the flavours and aromas was adversely affected. In order of consumption:
Belgian Blonde: I was VERY concerned that this would be the breweries go at a flavourless, low-carb product. I was very pleasantly surprised when I found myself enjoying a true Belgian blonde; cloudy in the glass, with very prominent herbal flavours; savoury, spicy, and very refreshing. Favourite brew of the night.
Digger Golden Ale: Yay for hops! A big floral and fruity aroma with the flavour to match, followed by a restrained bitterness. This beer does what other popular Aussie Golden/Pale ales do, and does it well. Again, very refreshing…came a very close second to the Belgian Blonde.
Bandito Loco: I thought this was going to be a light cerveza…instead I was presented with a beer that tasted very ‘Australian’. My first thought was that this beer tasted very similar to another very famous Queensland mid-strength beer (ironic considering this brew weighs in at 5%ABV). The flavour improved once I accepted it for what it was…
Townsville Bitter: This is the iconic brew of the establishment, and tastes as you would expect a true Queensland bitter to taste. The lack of artificial flavours and preservatives does give this brew a fresher flavour more pleasant aftertaste, but don’t expect a taste bonanza…this beer is designed to get rid of your thirst quickly and efficiently.
Flanagan’s Irish: My ability to identify specific flavours ended prior to this beer…it’s like Guinness (obviously) but seemed a bit smoother, less aggressive. I enjoyed it, and judging by the number of punters nursing this dark brew it seemed to be a crowd favourite.
Red Ned: An Irish Red Ale…the only notes I have are indecipherable scrawl. I’m sure I enjoyed it though.
I was very impressed by this place; if I lived in Townsville it would definitely be my preferred venue. The beers that they serve cater for a wide range of palates, from the worker looking for a thirst slacking knock-off to the curious beer snob searching for something a little different. Combine this with a great atmosphere in a beautiful building and you have a winner. Next time I’ll restrict myself to pots of each brew so I can appreciate the flavour profiles more…or I’ll just begin my night with pints of Flanagan’s Irish and Red Ned instead 😉