This post finds me winging my way home from sunny Cairns where I have been spending a few days helping my brother-in-law celebrate his 50th birthday and welcoming him officially to the ‘Curmudgeonly Old Blokes’ club (of which I am president and grand champion). Fortunately, time was also found to investigate some local beery produce.

At the urging of said brother-in-law who shall remain anonymous (let’s call him ‘Dave’), we paid a visit to the brewery and cellar door of Barrier Reef Brewing Co (, where we met head brewer (and fully qualified vet!) Cameron McPherson. Cameron is a man with a passion for both good beer and the environment, and has found a way of combining the two, with part-proceeds from beer sales being donated to the Cairns Turtle Rehabilitation Centre ( ) for sick and injured sea turtles.

barrier-reef-brewingBarrier Reef Brewing Co kicked off officially in April of this year and have already carved a niche in the local Cairns market. They currently have a core range of four beers with their Two Turtles Pale Ale being their flagship. This is a great example of a classic Australian pale ale, with some subtle tropical fruit elements from Galaxy and Cascade hops and nice bitter finish.

The Arlington Amber Ale has a lovely coppery colour and is packed with burnt toffee and caramel flavour offset by a clean and slightly bitter finish, making it less cloying than some beers in this style. Apart from having an awesome name, the Prawn Star Pilsner is an unfiltered pilsener which is slightly sweeter than the norm, again with some subtle tropical fruit flavour but finishing crisply and cleanly. The latest beer to join the range is the Sunshine on Reef Summer Ale, which somewhat along the lines of a Kolsch with a strong malty backbone.

These are all really well made beers that are well suited to chilling out on a warm summer afternoon, preferably listening to a few fine tunes. Something along the lines of Causa Sui’s ‘Pewtr Sessions’ or the new Colour Haze ‘Live Vol 1’ album (available on triple vinyl no less!) would do the job nicely. Cameron is in the process of looking at some interstate distribution but in the meantime if you are lucky enough to be visiting or living in the Cairns region, you can now enjoy some great beer while doing your bit for the environment. How cool is that?!

Jimmy Mac