Here at Thirsty Critters we pride ourselves on staying up-to-date with all things beer-related in South East Queensland and surrounds. So it was with great interest that I recently read that we have a new brewery in our midst – albeit a little further from Brisbane than those we visit on a regular tour. To sample the wares produced by Castle Glen requires a full day’s commitment, as it’s located just outside Stanthorpe in southern Queensland.
(Yes, Stanthorpe is in Queensland, not NSW. If I had a dollar for every time somebody had tried to convince me otherwise…)
And so it was last Sunday we got in the car and set off for Stanthorpe. The drive out there seemed far shorter than the last time I attempted it some 10 years ago, I guess the roads must be much improved these days. It’s a pretty good day trip, with excellent roads all the way, mostly dual carriageway, and ample overtaking lanes. We stopped for a late breakfast in Aratula and arrived in Stanthorpe around midday, about 2.5 hours after leaving Brisbane.
I had no idea that Castle Glen was actually… a castle. In the meandering hills of outer Stanthorpe it doesn’t look too out of place, if you imagine you have momentarily been teleported to the English countryside.
Castle Glen is actually renowned for its liqueurs, of which it seems to produce hundreds of varieties, in addition to wines, ports, sparklings and liqueur fudge.
The beers have been a relatively recent addition to the lineup, produced with the same equipment as the rest of the product range. In addition to those listed on the website, they also had a Dark Ale, English Ale and Munich Ale available.
The very friendly staff had three varieties on hand for us to try – the Chardonnay, Ginger Beer and Dark Ale. We only got to sample a small amount of each, so this is not a final verdict – that will have to wait until we bust open the selection of 750ml bottles we brought home with us.
The Dark Ale was agreeable but perhaps not dark enough. I brought a bottle home with me so I will let it age a little and try again.
The Chardonnay Beer was, to sound obvious, different. Quite clearly made from a chardonnay, so quite reminiscent of a saison. A little too sweet for my liking, although quite mild considering the 9.5% ABV. A good attempt at something no other Queensland brewer is doing, as far as I know.
The standout, surprisingly, was the ginger beer. I’m not a fan of ginger beer at all and was expecting to be overcome with a full payload of ginger, but it was much more subtle than that. Again quite tame considering the 11.5% ABV, it was a very refreshing drop that I’m looking forward to trying more of.
The good news for anyone wanting to try these beers is that we might soon be able to enjoy them a little closer to home – Castle Glen are opening a satellite cellar door at Mt Tamborine in March. Unfortunately, due to Queensland’s archaic liquor licensing laws, they won’t be able to sell the beer, but they’re working to change that ASAP. We will keep you posted on the Thirsty Critters blog.
In the meantime, a day trip out to Stanthorpe is certainly recommended – there’s plenty of other great things to do out there besides sample beer. We also visited a cheese factory and had lunch at the delightful Bella Rosa’s tea room just down the road from Castle Glen.
Three cheers for Castle Glen, Queensland’s newest craft brewery. We look forward to visiting the next one!