Last weekend Mrs Mac and I made a flying visit to Cairns to help our niece Sarah celebrate her twenty-first birthday. At the behest of my brother-in-law who shall remain nameless (let’s just call him ‘David’) and in the company of another ne’er-do-well who we shall refer to as ‘Ryan’, time was also found to pay a visit to MacAlister Brewing Company, a new microbrewery and bar situated in Smithfield just north of Cairns (roughly twenty minutes drive from the Cairns CBD).

Macalister Brewing Company was established just under a year ago by Rob and Rachael ‘Hoppy’ MacAlister. Head brewer Rob has a background in chemistry but his home-brewing passion led him to complete a graduate diploma in brewing science and to fulfill his dream of opening his own brewery. Rob, Hoppy and the rest of the team at MacAlisters are all incredibly warm and welcoming people making for a really relaxed and happy atmosphere.

That atmosphere is certainly helped by the location. The brewery is situated in a small industrial estate but it has a stunning outlook across cane fields rolling out towards the mountain ranges. An amazing view made even better if you happen to catch a storm rolling through. Totally North Queensland! There is plenty of seating in the open, spacious interior, with the brewery itself in full view.

The range of unpasteurised, unfiltered and preservative free beer includes an Australian pale ale (‘Cairns Pale’) , a full flavoured session IPA (‘School Day’), a fruity golden ale (‘Latitude 17’), a ruby red ale (‘Valentina’… ask Rob to tell you the story) and a smoked, dark-chocolatey porter (‘Bushwacked’). The two which particularly took my fancy were ‘Fox Tail’ and ‘The Instigator’. The former is a beautifully balanced and quite malt-forward American-style pale ale, while the latter is a weighty (7% ABV) imperial amber ale in which roasted toffee flavours give way to a lovely bitter and ever so slightly smoky finish.


Take-aways can be purchased in 1 litre squealers and 1.9 litre growlers, and local food trucks can regularly be found onsite on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. In short… great location, great people and great beer. Well worth checking out if you are a local or visiting this wonderful part of the world.

Jimmy Mac