It’s funny how sometimes you over look things that are in your own backyard. I’m a bit of a shocker for it really. I can tell you that I’ve visited some of the great cities of the world, marvelled at the Sistine Chapel, spent time on the canals of Venice, and lived out of a mates flat in London.
But I’ve never been to Ayers Rock, I’ve never been to Broome, I’m yet to see some of the most magnificent sites in Australia. I’ve had chances but I’ve just overlooked them, in favour of using our cash to renovate, upgrade or travel overseas or more truthfully, pad out our cellar.
This really struck home this week when I went back tried some of the beers from Blue Sky Brewery in Cairns with their Head Brewer Hayden Mokaraka. These guys are in our own backyard, have won so many medal that their trophy cabinet would be groaning and I never really reach for them in my bottleshop. In fact since entering their first competition, Australian International Beer Awards (AIBA) in 2009, which is also the second largest beer competition in the world, the team at Blue Sky have taken home more medals than I have fingers.
Since opening in mid 2008 they have shown they know what they’re doing when it comes to brewing beer, and by beating the likes of Becks ,Tiger Beer, European and Australian breweries, they’ve shown they can produce the goods to beat the big boys at their own game. The beers are clearly brewed for the North Queensland climate: reasonably light, soft and sessionable. And it’s that sessionability and flavours that are making them hit outside of our own backyard. Pubs down south, Brisbane and beyond are going gang busters for the Blue Sky products, but it is very hard to find somewhere locally that has them on tap. There are a few places, and the list up here is growing too, which shows that we are finally climbing aboard the craft beer train.
The only downside that I can find with Blue Sky’s offerings is that their top beers aren’t available at your local bottleshop, they are only available on tap, and then most taps are under contract at your local pub.
The kegs are a total Cairns operation, coming out of their 10 hectolitre system, comprising of sixteen tanks and source the brewing ingredients from all over the world – in the case of the Pilsner the yeast comes from the Czech Republic. The pre-packaged items that you find in your local bottelo are actually brewed under licence beers, still good to great beers, but not in the same class as those keg beers.
Petition your local pub, get them on tap, and try them. Otherwise for those of you in and around Cairns you will be able to try these beers at Palm Cove’s Reef Fest 26th October.
Great Blue Sky Beers to try:
- Blue Sky Brewery Pilsner – Available on tap and at every good bottleshop, my taster was the bottle poured into a pilsner glass. Took out a Bronze at the 2013 AIBA, and like any good pilsner its crisp and refreshing. A hazy golden colour, with good carbonation, and a good head. It’s 4.5% alcohol, and has a light floral aroma. Definitely a refreshing brew and one that would be an excellent session beer as it’s highly drinkable with a dry crisp finish.
- Blue Sky Brewery FNQ Lager – another offering of Blue Sky that is available either on tap or bottled, and again, the one my fellow tasters and I tried was the bottled version. A prior medal winner at the AIBA, but hasn’t taken home the silverware in the last few years I can’t state enough the importance of trying this cold, when it goes warm it’s just not the same beer. A 4.4% beer with floral and hop aromas, I got a slight honey taste, though my mates didn’t. Clean, crisp and dry malty finish and definitely worth a try.
- Blue Sky Brewery IPA – unfortunately only available on tap. This is such a great beer and you have to get your local to put a keg or three on! It’s the beer that has won the most awards for Blue Sky over the years. At 4.5% it’s not as alcoholic as some Indian Pale Ales (IPA) are traditionally, but it is chock full of hops like a traditional IPA. Fruity-citrus aromas and well balanced bitterness, a full flavoured complex beer.
- Blue Sky Brewery “True Blue Stout” – I remember trying this out of an old wooden keg not too long ago. Again another beer that is only available on tap, and should be right beside all the other beers on tap at your local. It’s a great dark beer, with heaps of sessionability. Not as heavy as Coopers Stout or Guinness, this is slightly sweeter with a dry finish. Touches of fruit and coffee aromas, with coffee, chocolate and the typical bitter flavours of a quality stout. 5.2% alc. Great beer.