|After BatReach, we noticed a ton of wild fruit bats hanging out in Cairns|
The next day our tour sent us to snorkel at Green Island. That was a miserable trip. I have an ironclad stomach but even I was queasier than a freshman at a frat party as our overcrowded vessel became airborne over every whitecap. That, however, wasn’t even the worst part of the trip. One would think that, being in the Great Barrier Reef, the exceptionally beautiful aquatic wildlife would justify the nauseating trip. No such luck. Go lay face down (or, for you hip internet kids, go “planking”) in your front lawn and you’ll get a near exact replica of what we saw that day: sea grass under ankle-deep water. The only wildlife we saw were Japanese tourists who shrieked every time a piece of seaweed grazed their skin.
After the utter bummer of Green Island, we returned to Blue Sky Brewery to meet up with Tess and attend our VIP tour of the brewery (actually, they have public tours on a daily basis but those Aussies sure know how to make an American blogger feel like royalty). We called upon Tess and, while we waited for her, I ordered a Reef Blonde (4.7% ABV). There was a dialectical barrier between me and the bartender because I didn’t know what a “jug” was; I just knew that Reef Blonde in a jug was on special. Long story short, I received a pitcher of beer that I needed to chug in about five minutes. At least it’s a low-carb beer.
Our talk with Tess was a mutual learning experience. We learned that, even though Blue Sky has only been open since 2008, it has already won 14 Australian International Beer Awards and its kingdom now includes a taproom at the Cairns Domestic Airport. This business is booming; I hope it doesn’t bust.
|Blue Sky's airport location|
We also learned that Green Island is a terrible place to snorkel and that only tourists who don’t know how to swim go there (I think we figured that out on our own, though). Tess said it’s outer reef or nothing when snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef and, coincidentally, Todd AKA Hot Toddy, our quizmaster from the other day, also worked for an outer reef dive company called Down Under Cruise & Dive. Foreshadowing much?
The pitcher was emptied so Tess handed us off to Sean (there are so many ways to spell this name that I’m going to try and use all possible variations and hope I get it right at least once), our friendly Canadian guide and Blue Sky’s apprentice brewer. Shawn took us to the brewing room and gave us the spiel on grains, hops, cleaning the kettles, the bottling line (very tiny for a brewery of this size), and making cider. Shaun was also nice enough to give us an additional copy of The Beer Lovers Guide to Australia. We really raked in the schwag on this trip!
Seann led us back to the bar where he poured us a tasting paddle to sample on the house (at least, I think it was on the house; I don’t remember paying). On our paddle was: FNQ Lager (4.4% ABV), Blue Sky Pilsner (4.5% ABV), IPA, Cairns Gold (3.3% ABV), Wheat, and True Blue Stout (6.4% ABV). I’ve already reviewed Cairns Gold and True Blue in the previous post so go there for those tasting notes. I’ve also reviewed the IPA, too, but I’ve got more to say on that.
|From left to right: FNQ, Pilsner, IPA, Wheat or Gold (they were probably mixed up), & True Blue|
FNQ—or Far North Queensland—is clear and straw colored with a white head. The sweet malt aroma is abundant on the nose. In terms of taste and mouthfeel, FNQ is crisp and dry; a typical, easy-drinking summer beer that fits the light lager category quite well. The viscosity, however, seems a bit more pronounced in this beer than in others of its type. It could do with some lightening of the body.
I am torn on Blue Sky Pilsner. I mentioned in the previous post that we won a six-pack of Pilsner at Blue Sky’s pub quiz which I took back to the hotel, cracked open, and poured into a glass. I was, in a word, disappointed; it smelled like burned toast, the flavor was akin to something like Natural Ice, and it felt as thick as clam chowder. Pilsners are supposed to be light and crisp, not thick and soupy, no sir! There is, however, redemption for this beer because, on tap, it’s a whole new ballgame. Pilsner on tap is light-bodied and clean tasting—everything this style of beer should be and everything it isn’t in a bottle. Maybe I got a six-pack that had been sitting around too long. It was free, you know.
The next beer on the paddle was supposed to be Cairns Gold but one of three things must have happened: Shaxwn (silent “x”) made the innocent mistake of switching up a beer or two, Chaun (“ch” making the “sh” sound like in the word cache) wanted to test our mettle as beer analyzers and see if we would notice the incongruity, or Cairns Gold tastes so different on tap than it does in a bottle that it turns into a wheat beer. I’m going with the first possibility.
We thanked the crew at Blue Sky for their fantastic hospitality and went on our merry way until, after about two blocks, we realized that we had no plans for tomorrow and that’d we’d done everything we wanted to do in the city. What were we to do with a whole 24 hours? We thought Green Island sucked, the outer reef is supposed to be good, and Todd works for an outer reef dive company. Math may not be my strong suit but I was starting to add things up. We did a 180, found Todd, and set up a reservation for the next day’s excursion.
Before I end this post I want to quickly review the remaining two beers I picked up at The Local Bottle Store &Provisions.
|Crushed Apple Cider|