On the way back from Rainbow Beach, I visited some old mates from Sydney that have made a wonderful move to Bangalow. I was delighted when they suggested we have dinner at “The Buddha Bar and Brewery” . Now I thought that the only beer brewed in Byron Bay was Stone & Wood. For a few years now there has been a Byron Bay Premium Ale that’s been randomly available in bottlos around Sydney, but that was contract brewed on the Central Coast. I’ve tried it, but it provided no lasting memories. Well, that’s all changed and the Byron Bay brewery brews beer in Byron Bay including the Premium, at least for kegs. I cannot say for certain that they still don’t do the bottled stuff on the Central Coast, but they’re are producing some mighty fine stuff in a mighty fine setting.
Over the years I’ve had some pretty good pub experiences in Byron Bay. The Rails was a particular favourite, but that was many years ago and Coopers was a radical beer. The Buddha Bar has been around in various forms since it was a piggery in the late 1800’s. There’s been a large backpacker’s for many years out the backand there’s been live music also over many years. There’s now a very large beer garden and a spacious outdoor performance area, with plenty of shade. The vibe (it is Byron after all) is cool and there’s an eclectic crowd of backpackers, families and locals.
There’s been some solid coin dropped on the inside and the shiny brewing equipment is righ in amongst the tables, chairs and booths of the Buddha Bar/Restaurant. A long bar dominates about 50% of one wall and there are 3 banks of taps all serving Byron Bay beer. There’s 6 standards – Premium, Blonde, Pale, Pilsener, Redbelly Mid Strength and Billy Goat Dark Lager. They do seasonals and the current offering was an American Pale Ale. The American Pale wasn’t a face slapper by any means, but was a subtly hoppy beer – maybe an entry level American Pale. A perfect beer garden number. The Pilsener was pretty uninspiring, but the Redbelly Mid Strength was an absolute ripper. For a mid strength, it had colour and taste. Not a malt bomb, but a really pleasant malty mouth feel. A really good mid strength. The stand-out, however, of the four was the Billy Goat Dark Lager. Crisp, roasted and mocha – this was a robust dark lager, and again a really good beer garden bevvy.
You don’t need many reasons to go to Byron Bay, but the Byron Bay Brewery and Buddha Bar/Restaurant certainly give you another couple. Byron Bay Brewery’s – Facebook is the best way to see what’s coming up there.