A new Gympie brewery, Latitude 26 Brewing, has teamed up to launch a beer in honour of a local tourist attraction the heritage Mary Valley Rattler.
It’s not the first of its kind as a partnership but comes as Australian breweries turn their attention to domestic tourism. Earlier this month Founders First announced that its portfolio company Jetty Road Brewery was exiting a planned Melbourne venue in favour of a site in Lorne, a town of just over 1,000 people on the Great Ocean Road tourist drive.
As the latest in local tourism tie-ups, Sunshine Coast microbrewery Latitude 26 has teamed up with the Mary Valley Rattler tourist train for a specially-branded Off the Rails Ale and Cider.
Brewer and founder Graham Kidd opened the venue up across the road from Gympie Station earlier this year.
“Latitude 26 came about mainly because of my passion for brewing beer, I’ve been doing it for eight to ten years and in the last two years have become serious about it,” he said.
“We did homebrewing competitions and had success here and there, but I was getting to an age and a stage in my life where I wanted to slow down with work. So we found a place in town and off we went.”
However, as brewers will know, the reality of operating a brewery is very different from the dream. Latitude 26 was in a particularly tight spot when just five weeks from opening, COVID hit.
Despite the bad timing, Latitude 26 has now opened up its small taproom and is already looking to expand its capacity and with an open-air deck.
“I enjoy doing it, me and my wife run it together – we get to meet a lot of people and explain to people about the beers,” said Kidd.
“What I wanted to do with the taproom was make it a learning institution for people that don’t know anything about beer, to learn about why the beers are called what they are and how they’re made. We have 3-4 core range on the board and change the others around every couple of weeks.”
It has proved a popular spot with locals, and is now extending its reach to visitors with the Off the Rails beer. Kidd said he expected to see more of in the region and ongoing international travel bans continue.
“We can see each other from our front doors, and [the team at the Rattler] were interested in putting beers on tap. They’ve introduced us in their marketing and [tourism] is one of the things that will save Gympie.”
The Off the Rails Ale is based on an American Pale Ale.
“We brew it all here, only a tiny little brewery, 200 litres at a batch, and the American Pale Ale is basically a session ale. It can be a base for a lot of other beers. The Rattler team tried all the beers, I tweaked it for them, and they decided they really liked it.”
Latitude 26 tries to include local produce in its beers where possible, although climate prevents some of the more essential elements of beer being grown there, and to compliment the local focus, local chef Matt Golinksi has developed dishes to match the beer.
Kidd hopes it will be an ongoing partnership for the young brewery.
“The Rattler has plans to expand what they do, they’re trying to expand into weddings and things and they want to do another taproom at the other end of the rail line, and we’re really looking forward to working with them more in the future.”