Located just a short ferry ride from Townsville, there is much about Magnetic Island that makes it a paradise. There are the secluded beaches, the countless spots in which to swim and sail, and the many opportunities to soak in the island's natural beauty and slow pace of life.
“We don’t have any high-risers, Macca's and all the kitchens are closed by 8pm – it’s just a laid-back island,” says Jordan Dahl.
Soon it will have its own brewery too, with head brewer Jordan’s beers set to start flowing from Maggie Island Brewery in the coming weeks.
Jordan is one of the many who has fallen in love with Magnetic Island; in his case, it happened more than a decade ago when the American touched down as a backpacker in 2009. After six months, Jordan and his partner moved back to Seattle but then spent the following months saving as much money as they could so they could make the island their permanent home and a place they could raise their kids, a goal they achieved in 2012.
Having previously worked as a brewery tour guide at the pioneering Redhook Brewery in Seattle, Jordan says he soon fell in love with the idea of making beer professionally. Meanwhile, seeing his old friend Jim Jameson open the two-hectolitre Foggy Noggin Brewing in Bothell, a short drive north of Seattle, made him see you didn't need to go big to make it work.
"This has always been a dream or something in the back of my head I've wanted to do," he says. "I've long felt you don't have to go grand scale to make something work, be profitable, and do what you love doing."
Jordan's moved to Magnetic Island saw him take up homebrewing where, from 2017, he spent four years catching the 20-minute ferry ride to the mainland to work as a brewer at the Townsville Brewery. He says the development of Maggie Island Brewery came after chatting to two longtime island holidaymakers and boat racers, Mick Grimshaw and James Permezel, while looking at an old arcade in the town of Picnic Bay.
“We were having a beer and pizza and went, ‘How good would a brewery be here?’," Jordan says.
Jordan's not kidding when he says the brewery isn't grand in scale either: the 200-litre system fits snugly into the nanobrewery category, although Jordan says they’ll be filling larger fermenters with double batches of their core range beers. This includes a German pils, West Coast IPA and an XPA, although it's the mid-strength that Jordan says he's particularly proud of brewing.
“The Maggie’s Mid would be one of the most challenging recipes I’ve developed,” he says. “I tried to walk that fine line of people being able to pick up on the hop profile, but for those who aren’t used to it to not be concerned with it.
“I think we’ve done a good job of that. We were doing trails with concreters in town and brewed pilot batches in corny kegs and they were frothing over it.”
As they get ready to open, we got in touch with the crew to ask Who Brews Maggie Island beers?
Maggie Island Brewery
Who are you?
James Permezel – owner
Mick Grimshaw – owner
Jordan Dahl – head brewer and manager who has spent five years as a professional brewer, plus 15 years in hospitality in America, Australia and Belize.
Where do you brew?
Maggie Island Brewery on Magnetic Island, Queensland.
Why do you brew?
Best job there is! My passion and happy place! Love that there are always new methods, styles and info for brewing! Never stop learning!
Was there a beer or a moment that set you on the path to becoming a brewer?
Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and Big Sky Brewing’s Moose Drool were the first two beers that really changed everything for me. And my friends at Foggy Noggin Brewing for letting me sit in on brew days and inspiring me to start brewing.
What’s the inspiration behind the brewery name?
To promote our island home.
What beer in your lineup best represents you and why?
Dank ’83 IPA is a traditional West Coast IPA that represents my Seattle heritage and the start of the IPA revolution. Big pine, resin and citrus hop flavours with upfront bitterness and dry finish.
If you could have any person in the world join you on a brew day, who would it be, and why?
Jim Jameson from Foggy Noggin Brewery. Jim was my inspiration to start brewing and would be awesome to get him to Australia for a brew.
Would love to get my boy Shane McGregor up for a brew as well. We homebrewed together for years and worked together professionally for a bit before he moved to New Zealand and started brewing at Duncan's.
If anyone drops in on brew day, what are they most likely to hear blasting from the speakers?
Rock, funk, blues, hip hop… We listen to it all – just depends on the day and our vibes. Only two rules for tunes are: listen loud and no country.
What beers are in your fridge right now?
Wildflower, Wolf of the Willows XPA, Coral Sea Tropical Ale, and lots of Maggie Island Brewing.
What would be your desert island beer of choice?
A traditional IPA or a good pilsner.
Which local beers have blown your mind in recent weeks?
Coral Sea’s Mongrel Blood, Townsville Brewing Co’s Barrier Reef Gose, and anything and everything from Duncan’s Brewing. Their stuff is incredible!
Is there a particular style, ingredient, or trend in beer you'd like to explore further?
Wild and mixed ferment beers; I find them fascinating and love that you can stick to processes that are hundreds of years old and still produce incredible beers.
Where can people find your beers?
Initially, it will just be in our taproom – hopefully around Townsville and Magnetic Island in the very near future.
Where do you hope your brewery will be ten years from now?
Hopefully, right where it is now. Would be great to have a production brewery for tinnies in the future.
Once Maggie Island Brewery opens their doors, you'll be able to find them on the free Crafty Pint app along with hundreds of other breweries and good beer venues. You can check out other entries in the Who Brews...? series here.