(Well, a tiny bit of it)
Words, most of the pictures, and fear of young people by Greasylightbulb
Not long ago I had reason to spend a few days in the tantalisingly titled Gold Coast. I always like to combine my enforced travels with an exploration of the local cuisine and/or drink scene, so what could I find in the GC? A place that’s famous for fun, even if it takes them 18 months to realise that.
As my plane started descent into what looked like the business end of an aggressive game of Monopoly, I started to realise that the GC is pretty fricking huge. Not knowing any better I plumped for Surfer’s Paradise as the place to explore (seriously, who thinks of these great names? Maybe Gore, Lower Hut and certainly Cape Foulwind could learn a lesson or two in PR?). On the ground Surfer’s initially resembled a future-noir ghetto for oddly shaped stumbling neophytes wearing all of five square inches of clothing to walk around loudly murdering vowels. It was a culture shock that was given extra horrible dimensions of sensory experience by the double-whammy of oppressive heat and unseasonal gluey humidity. Luckily the local council had thought to spare me the pain of only hearing the impressive feat of stamina that presumably was an all night roof top karaoke party by digging up the whole main strip 24/7 while I was there. It took quite a bit of psyching up to venture away from the safety of the hotel air con into the shops and bars, but I was hungry and there was nothing on TV so my hand was forced.
Once I learnt that the throngs of guys with lumpy arms and girls with unlikely anatomy were strutting round completely oblivious to my muted presence, life got a lot easier. It was not unlike the scenes in World War Z where [spoiler] Brad Pitt is busy saving the planet from zombies using a science-defying trick of haematology. People watching became a pleasant pastime, and there was certainly no shortage of subject matter. I loved how the shops were open even though it was night time, and it quickly became apparent that despite the initial lack of discernible humanity on the streets, the guys and girls in the shops were demonstrating outstandingly helpful and friendly customer service. A bit of creative asking around (“hmm, so, what about…. somewhere that sells beers you’ve never heard of that seem to cost a lot? nah, no dancing”) got me a really very compact list of possible craft destinations in the vicinity.
Pigs and Pints
With a name like this I wasn’t going with high expectations, imagining it to be either a purely carnivore-focused destination or even a distinctly unambitious lap dancing bar. It wasn’t that easy to find, slightly away from the main drag in Chevron Island – an innocuous part of town that looked like it might be more used for hanging out for drinks or eats with friends before moving onto the bright lights for reaffirmation of zombie status. However inside was a relative sanctuary of happy calmness with larger groups of chatterers buzzing in the bar slightly sheltered from smaller clusters and couples in a more seated area. There was a bright, open kitchen and I love seeing the guts of a place like that, but occasionally feel bad about having fun if others are obviously at the tough grind. Also featuring were some dividing shelves that were impressively functional as well as aesthetic. The food was mainly of the en-vogue slider variety, using buns freshly baked on the premises and with an impressive range of gourmet fillings easily catering for contemporary dietary choices.
Apparently the pork belly BLT is the most popular, but due to my debt to karma I went for the chargrilled marinated tofu with kimchee, slightly curried crispy lentil and sweet potato patty, and the fantastic “cheese”burger consisting of a wee slab of saganaki and lemon zest. I also couldn’t resist chickpea and polenta chips with a paprika coating.
Again the customer service was exceptional and as I munched away at the counter I was warmed by how amiable the hard working staff were with punters and also each other. They invariably offered a chat in passing me (as a lone diner) and were universally enthusiastic about Surfer’s Paradise and life in general. Beer-wise the place was doing a roaring trade on the local Burleigh Brewing (see below) Hassle Hop, which tasted like an nice APA. There was a small but fairly classy selection of bottles too, even if it did include Monteiths, and retailing at the same price as Ozzie greats like Vale Pale Ale and Hop Hog nonetheless! With some reluctance I declined the beaming offers of another beer and made my way back into the world of crazy; looking for the next beer destination.
See more about Pigs and Pints here
Black Coffee Lyrics
Unlikely situated in a side shopping mall (not really that unlikely I guess, since all of the city I saw looked quite a lot like a mall) was the shaded and sedate bar that is Black Coffee Lyrics. Ostensibly a speciality coffee shop by day and funky cocktail lounge with modern Mediterranean food by night, they also had three taps and a couple of fridges of nice beer. Inside was all dimly lit exposed brick and beamed walls with eclectic wooden tables and stools, sadly not conducive to my photographic skills so I’m off to Google some images now….
I had a Feral Golden Ale on tap, then one of Moo Brew’s gorgeous bottles while watching the two busy barmen tirelessly work their way through a massive variety of interesting cocktails. They were clearly incredibly knowledgeable and were able to tailor their concoctions to individual tastes. Table service was encouraged and an uncountable quantity of bargirls buzzed back and forth like a perpetual motion machine to keep the punters happy. Cocktails are great, but they do take a bit of time and a few people left as a result. I’d reckon this is a place for staying a while and relaxing at rather than being a stop on a bar hop. Despite me being slightly in the way by propping up the bar, the cocktail fellas multitasked their shaking and straining with occasionally chatting to me about food, drink, Surfer’s Paradise and the bar scene. Again they were vigorous advocates for the lifestyle you can have here. The guys I talked to most both here and at Pigs and Pints were ex-pats from the UK who seemed to have found their happy niche. Food was mostly tapas and pizzas and looked great, I slightly wished I wasn’t full of sliders but that’s First World Problems right there.
Black Coffee Lyrics have a Facebook Page
Not visited by me, but seen in both the bars above and the only local and/or craft beer I found in the bottle stores I went in. You can visit them on Fridays though, when it seems they have quite the party at the brewery. I managed to try:
Great ‘tache on the label. Typical Ozzie wheat style – clean and refreshing with quite a sharp and brief taste.
……no carbs apparently
Tastes likes the Shreddies breakfast cereal and citrus. It was very light in the mouth and became pretty unpleasant once it started to warm up.
My Wife’s Bitter
Dubious label hailing back to the bad old practises of old Blighty. English style malt profile, all smooth, toasted and slightly caramelly sweetness nicely balanced with clean modern bitterness. A successful hybridism of an existing style into a new environment, very drinkable indeed.
28 Pale Ale
My favourite of the bunch, though possibly influenced from the beginning by falling in love with the styley retro surfer label. It’s named for a swell from legend which graced Surfer’s Paradise in the 1970s for 28 days. American style pine and grapefruit with an unusual creamy toffee finish which I liked, so I smuggled a few back to God’s Own for the rest of the Thirsty Boys and Ladies Auxiliary to try.
Fig Jam IPA
Slightly grassy and fruity taste initially which fades quickly in an unexpectedly light bodied beer for the ABV.
All in all a refreshing and easy drinking range of beers (except for the Bighead which was quite hard to drink), which is probably wise when the temperatures get like they do in the GC. I’d be interested in trying some more Burleigh beers, maybe alongside some other Aussie pale ales for comparison. Here’s their website.
Anyway, if you get to Surfer’s Paradise, don’t be as scared of it as I was, there’s exceptional talent just waiting to feed and water you, but you definitely need to know where they are as the big buildings, bright lights and hectic holidaymakers make them hard to find.