KEY INGREDIENT: Farmer Anthony Rehbein, Bunda Ginger with a packet of ground ginger, alongside Bargara Brewing Co founder Jack Milbank with a Ginja Ninja.

KEY INGREDIENT: Farmer Anthony Rehbein, Bunda Ginger with a packet of ground ginger, alongside Bargara Brewing Co founder Jack Milbank with a Ginja Ninja.

The brewery that Jack built

Agronomy know-how stands brewer in good stead


The Knowledge Bank
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Local ingredients and a commitment to bettering the community are the secrets behind the success of the Bargara Brewing Company.

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GINGER beer tends to conjure up Enid Blyton-style scenes of picnicking children in the English countryside on tartan blankets.

This is not that sort of ginger beer.

At 4.8 per cent alcohol by volume (ABV), this is serious craft beer.

This is Ginja Ninja, a beer whose brewing is as clever as its name.

The official product description reads: "A unique all grain 'proper' ginger beer. Brewed with pale and RedX malt, three additions of fresh, locally grown ground ginger from Bunda Ginga and back sweetened to produce an amazing, aromatic, rich, refreshing full bodied signature ginger beer."

It's the creation of The Bargara Brewing Company, a microbrewery established in the Queensland horticulture hub and sugarcane region of Bundaberg.

Bargara is a coastal community about 10 minutes drive from the town centre.

While there are some major sets of ocean front units, the beach areas still rub shoulders with nearby farmland. 

The love of the location in some way influenced the decision to establish a microbrewery by founder, Jack Milbank.

"It's not really about owning a brewery. It's about readdressing the money to stay in the community and not sending our profits offshore to multinationals," Mr Milbank said.

Brewing beer is not as much of a deviation from Mr Milbank's background as an agricultural scientist as it might seem.

"It's still just using biology to produce food," he said.

This included developing a strain of yeast from macadamia nuts.

His dealings with farmers helped establish a database of those who could supply high quality local ingredients.

That in turn led to a natural association with fourth generation farmer and ginger grower, Anthony Rehbein.

Mr Milbank was Mr Rehbein’s agronomist, which led to many discussions about ginger.

The pair new the local ginger was excellent quality compared to common imported product, so it stood to reason that a locally brewed beer containing ginger, would also be excellent. 

The Bargara Brewing Company encapsulates the new wave of boutique beer drinkers, where it's as much about trying something new as it is about savouring the moment and atmosphere.

The brewery (The Brewhouse) has catapulted to local renown for business drinks or a leisurely get-together.

The stainless steel vats are in full sight for all customers to see as they sample their Turtle Lager, Great Barrier Beer, Drunk Fish Pale Ale, Phat Heffa, Goldihops or several other left-of-centre beverages.

It's not really about owning a brewery. It's about readdressing the money to stay in the community and not sending our profits offshore to multinationals. - Jack Milbank

The Bargara Brewing Co may be considered a microbrewery but it has not been afraid to expand its wings.

Part of that strategy now includes exports. This month, 29 establishments in Korea started serving three of the beers on tap.

Having conquered beer containing ginger, Mr Milbank has now conjured up other creations including a blueberry ale, a pumpkin ale and a lemon myrtle cerevisiae (a Spanish beer), all made from local products.

"We use local products wherever possible," Mr Milbank said.

"So instead of just producing an unimproved product like barley, we are making a value-added finished product which increases the value of the inputs."

The building of the Bargara Brewing Company's, The Brewhouse.

Mr Milbank said he considers it to be a community owned brewery that is giving back and improving the city.

So far it has created 15 new jobs and attracted some high profile clientele.

It was on the "must visit" list when Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull visited Bundaberg earlier this year. 

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