News reached us last week that Murray’s brewer Ian Watson has left the Port Stephens-based craft brewery to help set up a new brewery in South East Queensland.
The brewery, Fortitude Brewing Company, has purchased the brewery vacated by the defunct Mount Tamborine-based Eagle Heights brewery which closed almost two years ago.
The brewery has been started by two Brisbanites: Gerard Connors, an Interventional Cardiologist and avid homebrewer, and his school mate, Jim O’Connor, an accountant.
Connors says Fortitude will actually be two labels with distinct personalities.
“Fortitude is focussed on session beers — flavourful, balanced, 4ish per cent beers that you can drink in a session,” he said.
“Our flagship and launch beer will be a golden ale and will probably be joined by a modern Australian/US wheat, with an English-style bitter to start with.”
The second label, Noisy Minor, will be a little more experimental.
“The idea here was a bit tongue in cheek at a few things going on,” Connors says.
“Firstly, we’re not just another micro named after a cute little animal, nor are we a multinational macro masquerading as a micro…we’re truly minor, but we’re gonna be noisy.
“But yes, in a way, we liked the Noisy Miner bird as an inspiration, loud and annoying, They’ll take on animals and humans a lot bigger, they’ve got a bit of cheek about them.
“The Noisy Minor range will be is focused on anything innovative, thoughtful, challenging or extreme in the beer world, while still maintaining the focus on drinkability. There is no point in making some crazy extreme beer that no-one can drink!
“Our launch beers will be Saisonete and ANZUS IPA, to be followed by Grim RIPA Black Rye IPA and RSVP (Rum Smoked Vanilla Porter).… and we have dozens of other ideas.”
Connors says the five-hundred-litre brewery is a starting point for the company, enabling them to create their brands and their beers and to see how the are received by the beer drinking public.
“You wouldn’t say it was no-risk by any means, but it’s still less risk than if we went much bigger to start,” he said.
“That said, the plan isn’t to stay at that size.”
Watson says his first job is to recommission the former Eagle Heights brewery to get it ready for brewing and hopes to be producing beer early next year.
Watson is no stranger to the Queensland beer scene, having brewed at MT Brewery at Mount Tamborine and Sunshine Coast Brewery before moving to Murrays. He can also lay a claim to the title of Australia’s first professional beer sommelier based on his time as resident beer and food matching guy at Toowoomba’s Spotted Cow Hotel in the early 2000s. Close to a decade on, I am yet to see most of the restaurant industry catch up with some of Ian’s beer and food matching ideas.
Ian’s return is very exciting for Queensland with the local beer scene really starting to ignite. In addition to the bar openings over the last twelve months, Teneriffe’s Green Beacon Brewery is on the verge of opening and there’s news of a new brewery called Newstead Brewing planned for just around the corner, as well as at least two others in the works.