The clear air up in the Gold Coast hinterland makes for pleasant sunny days that cry out for beer, but once upon a time, the beer offerings on Tamborine Mountain were slim. It wasn’t until 2012 that a couple of locals decided it was up to them to bring good beer to the mountain. They took over a small, defunct brewery and started Fortitude Brewing.
Right from the start, Fortitude’s beers were designed to be solid and sessionable brews that’d stand the test of time. Made with 100 percent fresh mountain rainwater, they include a summer ale that hits the sweet spot between smashable and flavoursome, a piney pale ale with a smack of bitterness, a golden ale that balances maltiness with fruity hops, and an easy drinking lager. Fortitude’s also known for Pacer, the light beer that manages to deliver good flavour and body while sitting at 2.8 percent ABV, and their mid-strength hopped ginger beer called Roots and Leaves (which is arguably one of the best beer names ever).
Meanwhile, the brewery’s Noisy Minor range of limited releases are all about giving the brewers room to experiment with bolder-flavoured beers - they’re described as “noisy, aggressive and sometimes downright crazy.”
And so for good reason, demand for Fortitude’s beers grew rapidly in the early years. It wasn’t long before the brewery moved to the destination you’ll find it in today. There in Eagle Heights there’s room for a brew kit big enough to handle demand, but also a gorgeous space where punters can drink Fortitude’s beers from the source. It’s a venue that invites groups of daytrippers, romantic weekenders, long-time locals with their four-footed friends - and everyone in between - to be part of the community.
Have you heard the phrase ‘mountaintop experience’? Well, it’s hard not to have that moment of transcendence as you approach the front of the brewery and ascend the expansive steps to the arched entranceway. As you walk through the great corridor, dwarfed by the vaulted ceiling, timber rafters looming over you, you can’t help but wonder what this grand structure is. Is it a Norse long hall? Is it an ancient barn? Is it a cathedral, where devotees can worship at the altar of good beer?
No, it’s a brewery. Come on. You knew that already.
There’s an array of tables spread through the indoor-outdoor area, spoiling you for choice. Will you sit at a picnic table in the open courtyard, surrounded by greenery and near to the stage where live music plays every weekend? Or beneath the slanted roof, among the hanging plants, at a bar table built from an old Mt Tamborine Brewery keg? Or will you keep warm inside, at a long table or on the leather couch, admiring the brewing tanks while you drink of their precious contents?
Wherever you end up, you have access to a spread of beer. Grab a tasting paddle of Fortitude’s core range and a pizza from the kitchen if you want to make memories without making decisions; it’s an easy way to have a truly delightful afternoon on the mountain. Otherwise you can take your pick of the beers. Alongside the Fortitude regulars, at any given moment there are also a few taps dedicated to whichever Noisy Minor beers have been brewed recently and some beers from Catchment Brewing, Fortitude’s sister brewery in Brisbane. (Since Fortitude joined the Catchment family in 2022, the two have been thick as thieves.) These taps are forever rotating but can include various IPAs, stouts, sours, and other more adventurous options.
If you’re just taking a day trip up and down the mountain to visit Fortitude for a session, check out Translink’s (cheap!) flat fare taxis from Helensvale Station. But if you can manage it, find an excuse to spend at least a couple of days in Tambo; time moves slower up there. Book yourself some accommodation and spend the weekend exploring the township and sampling all the fudge and wine and cheese you can handle. Go for a bushwalk to work up a thirst, then hit the brewery to quench it.
When you finish your session at the brewery (which, let’s be honest, is probably at closing time), grab some tinnies or a growler to take the Fortitude vibes with you.
Because we could all use a little more fortitude in our life. ‘Fortitude’ means strength, endurance, and the ability to confront fear. Fortitude is reliable and unwavering. Fortitude is solid as a rock… or in the case of Fortitude Brewing, solid as a mountain.
No wonder the brewery’s motto is In Cerevisia Fortitudo - “In Beer is Strength.”