Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Second trip to Brisbane reveals new side of city

Returning to Brisbane for a second time, we thought staying in a different part of the city would be the best way to take in new sights.

Instead of staying near the major transit centre, we opted for a more cultural part of the city.

We found a great hostel in Fortitude Valley, close to Chinatown.

Prince Consort Backpackers (not sure why it's named that) is above The Elephant and The Wheelbarrow pub on the main drag of the Valley.

The hostel was actually a really beautiful building with a "old pub" look and feel.

They offer a great two-night deal: one meal and drink from the pub, two nights accommodation, two hours of Internet and entry to the XXXX Brewery in the city.

After all the XXXX beer we poured at Hotel Corones and all the cartons of the liquid gold I lugged around the bottleshop in Charleville, I thought it was fitting we visit the birthplace of it all.

As a general tourist attraction, I wouldn't rate the brewery tour very high. The actual walkthrough is very generalized and a bit scientific for me.

But for a visitor with genuine interest in XXXX beer (including the sampling at the end of the tour), the brewery experience is worth the time and money.

At the end of the tour, you can try your hand at pouring a beer. All that practice from the hotel came in real handy!

The tour guide threw out a few interesting facts about the capabilities of the brewery and the environmentally-friendly aspects of the facility, but 60 percent of what he told us sounded like an engineering lecture.

Here's what stuck:

•The brewery can hold 20 million litres of beer at one time.

•More than two litres of water is used for every litre of beer produced. (This ratio used to be 10:1 so improvements have definitely be made).

•The brewery, owned by Castlemaine Perkins, partners with Kraft foods and local farmers to recycle by-products of brewing. Kraft uses leftover yeast for Vegemite and spent grain goes to farms to feed cattle.

•Kegs filled at the brewery and shipped to bars weigh 64 kg. That's 141 pounds! If you're wondering, YES, I did change kegs by myself at Hotel Corones' bar!

All the walking on the tour did make us a bit thirsty so it was handy they had a taproom nearby.

The highlight of the sampling for me was their full strength beer, XXXX Bitter, from a wooden keg. I also really enjoyed a James Squire Porter which was on tap.

Following the beer excursion, we headed back to the hostel to prep for dinner.

Prep for me included a nap :)

We exchanged our meal vouchers in the pub below our room for a really delicious dinner accompanied by live music in the beer garden.

We called it an early night on Friday as we had to be up early to organize our Greyhound trip to Noosa.

High marks for this trip to Brisbane: donning our bathing suits for the first time in the Southbank lagoon (although we were a bit freezing), being pleasantly surprised with the quality of our hostel and feeling a little bit smarter (and warmer) after the brewery tour.

Low marks: disappointing food from Chinatown and lack of wireless Internet at the hostel.

Chinatown was nearly right across the street from our hostel but the atmosphere and food left more to be desired.

Sent from my iPod

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