Authenticity is key to Australia’s Craft Beer Capital October 2022

This series on Beer Tourism is proudly brought to you by Australia’s Craft Beer Capital.

What makes a good tourist experience is gold dust, but the Sunshine Coast has leveraged its strong brewery brands to attract domestic and international visitors alike.

With 21 breweries and just under 350,000 people, the Sunshine Coast is one of the major regional hubs for brewing in Australia – Australia’s Craft Beer Capital in fact – and this looks only set to grow.

But it’s not just numbers that make the Sunshine Coast Australia’s Craft Beer Capital. The collegiate industry teams up for brewery tours and ale trails which cater to all tastes, and collaborates with local producers for an authentic ‘paddock to plate’ experience that highlights all that the Sunshine Coast has to offer.

“Holiday makers are always looking for an authentic experience – something that speaks to the place they are visiting – and the Sunshine Coast does that really well,” explained Visit Sunshine Coast CEO Matt Stoeckel.

“An important part of that is considering what visitors need and catering to that, and ensuring your customer service goes the extra mile to make the visitor experience unforgettable for all the right reasons.

“Looking at this through a craft brewery lens, it’s about providing that warm Sunny Coast welcome and sharing the story behind the glass with visitors. Take them on a journey, because that’s what is going to leave a lasting impact.”

Matt Wilson is the co-founder of Moffat Beach Brewing Co. which operates a beachfront brewpub and a production house in Caloundra.

The brewery is one of the jewels in the crown of the Sunshine Coast beer experience and took home the coveted title of Champion Small Australian Brewery at the most recent Melbourne Royal International Australian Beer Awards (AIBAs), as well as the Champion Medium/Small Brewery at the 2021 Indies, delivered by the Independent Brewers Association.

Most recently at the 2022 Indies, the brewery won two class trophies, Champion Medium Brewery and the Queensland state award.

Moffat Beach is also a champion at brewing the right beer styles for its customers and has won major awards for its beer including Best International Pale Ale and Best Traditional India Pale at the AIBAs.

Approximately 30 per cent of patrons are tourists, and up until very recently, Moffat Beach Brewing and the Sunshine Coast in general have been hidden gems.

“Traditionally Moffs [Moffat Beach] has not been a major drawcard for people coming to the Coast, it has always been a spot that was a bit of a well-kept secret but that definitely started to change in the past decade,” Wilson explained.

“When we first opened up our cafe in 2012 the place was totally different…[but] it’s only a fairly short drive from Brisbane, the views are sensational, the beach is north facing, and when the surf is on there is no place better to catch a wave.”

Paddock to plate

While the Sunshine Coast’s breweries are focused on making quality beer, they also know the importance of a holistic hospitality experience, extending the ‘paddock to pint’ philosophy to a full ‘paddock to plate’ experience.

“From our tours to attractions, food and beverage offerings and accommodation, our local tourism industry strives to share what they love about the place they call home, leaving a lasting impact with those who visit,” said Visit Sunshine Coast’s Matt Stoeckel.

“Good food and drink have always been a key motivator for travel, and craft breweries play an important role in telling that story on the Sunshine Coast.

“In recent years the Sunshine Coast’s craft beer scene has matured from a handful of breweries to 21, and by positioning ourselves as Australia’s Craft Beer Capital, we are able to share that wider narrative with visitors.

“Our craft breweries are an important component of the Sunshine Coast’s visitor experience because they not only entice a new demographic of traveller to our region, they provide a new, unexpected and different experience for return holidaymakers to try next time they’re here.”

Brouhaha, for instance, founded in Maleny with a new site in Caloundra, has a great relationship with local producers, working with suppliers such as Maleny Wagyu to bring local product into their brewery while also providing spent grain from the brewery to feed the cattle.

“The Sunshine Coast has long had a reputation for its local produce, whether it be our famed Mooloolaba prawns and fresh off the trawler seafood, award-winning Hinterland dairy and organically grown produce,” said Stoeckel.

“Craft beer has expanded on that offering, with many of our brewers looking to connect people to place through beer and food.

“We have brewers who use local produce to brew their beer, are focused on sustainability, and look to reduce food miles by working with farmers down the road from their brewery.”

United front

The diverse, vibrant and complementary producers on the Sunshine Coast work together to provide a key experience for tourists and give them a real taste of what the Coast has to offer.

Indeed, Josh Donohoe of Sunshine Coast Craft Beer Tours – which brings together multiple breweries on tours to cater to all tastes – told Brews News that getting some of the basic elements of beer tourism right is a key element of what makes the Sunshine Coast’s brewing culture so effective.

“Customers start their experience from the second they arrive at the venue,” he said.

“It needs to welcome them and make them feel like they are being guided on their journey.

“Some breweries have invested more into promotion with tourism than others and in return they have seen a more diverse range of visitors at their taprooms and venues.”

A focus on telling amazing stories, such as that of Terella Brewing Co. which teams up with its neighbouring vertical farm for produce and for sustainability projects in the brewhouse, and providing a great experience for tourists is what sets the Sunshine Coast breweries apart.

“This unity between our local producers goes a long way towards creating a holistic experience for visitors looking to explore our culinary scene, whether it be on a self-led journey or on board a local tour such as Sunshine Coast Craft Beer Tours who take you behind the scenes to meet the makers and hear their stories,” said Stoeckel.

“We have a motto that ‘tourism is everyone’s business’. Whether directly or indirectly – tourism plays a huge role in supporting the local economy here on the Sunshine Coast.

“Our breweries are so much more than producers of award-winning beer, they are places to come together, enjoy good food and drink, listen to live music and have a good time.

“Through Australia’s Craft Beer Capital, our craft breweries are able to start sharing these stories and it’s really exciting to see visitors actively seeking that out when they come to the Sunshine Coast.”

Download the Sunshine Coast Craft Beer Map for more details of the brewery experience along the Sunshine Coast, Australia’s Craft Beer Capital.

Back to Brewery Pro