What’s the ultimate symbol of success in an Australian context? Your own brewery of course.
What’s the ultimate symbol of success in an Australian context? – Your own racehorse, a house with water views, a luxury boat or a private jet? In our thirsty land all these high-flying indulgences pale into insignificance alongside the purchase of your own brewery. After hiring a professional brewing team and turning their attention to barrels of beer, Bede Durbidge, Mick Fanning, Joel Parkinson, Josh Kerr Ant MacDonald, Stirling Howland and Sean Ronan have quickly made Balter the most talked about brewery along the East Coast.
I recently stepped into Balter’s refurbished Currumbin warehouse for three straight days, open to close, because I couldn't get enough. While a storm raged outside I bunkered down and enjoyed tasty ales with everyone from beer connoisseurs to Bede Durbidge’s cousins.
Inside the Currumbin brewery, brass pipes and retro couches lined the front, aluminium tanks stacked the back and Red Bull Cape Fear, 2016 echoed from the flat screen. After glancing over the before and after pictures of the renovation, the fit out screamed expensive. Whatever Balter’s doing, it’s working, because local pubs won’t stop talking about the place and Friday through to Sunday it’s packed with a Gold Coast crowd seeking a modern twist on the drinking tavern concept.
It was easy to be lured into this craft beer paradise. Just before you swagger through the sliding barn doors, street vendors tempt you with a range of scrumptious beer accompaniments like burritos and tacos. Borrowing from the American concept of mobile food, new food trucks provide customers with lunch and dinner. Green-lighting the food trucks to take care of the culinary needs means Balter can put more focus on the beer and the ambience. Sleek wooden tables and pulled back brickwork create a comfortable but contemporary atmosphere while dangling fluorescent bulbs add a sophisticated lighting dimension.
The bar serves three different beers and non-alcoholic drinks, so obviously stick to the beer. Currently, the brewery offers one permanent beer along with two limited release brews. The permanent beer, the XPA, is a fully hopped beer mixed with fruity and floral aromatics that make it easy to put down. Balter’s limited release beers are currently being put through the ropes and tested on dry throats over the weekends. With regular tasting events, sampling different beers and new flavours seems to be a major part of the Balter experience.
This hidden gem could’ve ended up like a ‘locals only’ point break, but instead Balter offers an inclusive atmosphere that caters to locals, day-trippers and travellers who are seeking a unique beer drinking experience.
“Our proudest achievement today is the fact that we see every different type of person in our brewery,” adds Stirling Howland, spokesperson for Balter Brewery.
Although four of the world’s best surfers may be partners, Balter is anything but a kitsch surfey bar; it’s a dynamic brewery with a slick but inviting atmosphere and focuses on the common denominator everyone wants suggests Stirling Howland. “It was always about good beer when we set this up... It’ll never be about surfers’ beer, it’ll be about good beer.”
Perhaps this is exactly what Bede, Mick, Josh and Joel are seeking; a well crafted beer that separates their surfing career from their brewing career. They want to be recognized independently of their surfing as being part of a company that makes good beer for one of the most competitive markets in the world.
While Mick faces his demons at J-Bay in the coming weeks, Balter will be punching out more batches of their XPA thanks to one of the best brewers in Australia, Scott Hargrave, best known in beer circles for his association with the Byron Bay Brewing Company. Hargrave’s finely crafted ales are the big drawcard at Balter while samples of his Balter product are selling out in bottle shops around the country. To get your hands on a carton of Balter XPA check the website (www.balter.com.au/) for relevant bottle shops stockists.
Meanwhile if you are on the Goldy make sure you pay a visit to the brewery where “Good beer is for everyone,” reiterates Stirling Howland. I definitely found that out over three days in June. There are more stories I could tell about the people I met and the doors Balter opened up, but it’s probably better if you just experience it for yourself.
Balter Brewery is located at 14 Traders Way, Currumbin and is open Fridays 3pm - 7pm, Saturdays & Sunday 12noon - 6pm.