FNQ beer to hit Federal MPs with ‘a bit of fire in their souls’

Dec 1, 2023

A FAR Northern craft brewer will be “twisting the arms” of Federal politicians at a parliamentary Christmas gathering, bringing “simplicity” to a party set to host a diverse group of crossbenchers.

Kennedy MP Bob Katter will represent Atherton’s Billycart Brewing Co at Wednesday’s Federal crossbenchers Christmas party, sharing with his parliamentary colleagues the craft brewer’s Uber Crisp lager, Hillbilly IPA and Tropical pale ale.

The crossbench Christmas party tradition involves each MP sharing food and drinks from their electorate, and Mr Katter partnered with Billycart owners Matt Bradford and Margaret Barker to create a specially-themed wraparound label to feature on the cans of beer.

The husband-and-wife team opened their brewery in April 2022, backed by lengthy careers in botany with CSIRO, soil science and marketing which has helped drive popularity for the meticulously researched beers.

A scientist at heart, Mr Bradford said he enjoyed transferring his skills of research and adopting methodical procedures as well as knowledge in ecology, chemistry and physics towards his craft beer venture.

“It has been something Margaret and I have always wanted to do, and the closure of CSIRO at Atherton probably led us towards starting our own business,” he said.

“But we’ve always been interested in good beer. A lot of our travels, we chose places that have the best beers – Germany, Czech Republic, New Zealand and USA.

“And I’ve been brewing somewhat seriously for a long time.”

Mr Bradford has won state and national awards as an amateur brewer, taking out Australia’s best pale ale in 2016.

“I really do enjoy the science – the method of turning that starch in barley, into complex sugars, which then need to be processed by the yeast. And in between all that, you can add hundreds of variations with temperatures, PH contents and additional ingredients.

“We strive for fresh, approachable beers. Approachable means simple, easy to drink. We base it on the German model, we don’t want to go crazy with the styles and flavours.”

The BillyCart Brewing Co features a revolving menu of six regular beers as well as seasonal additions and often hosts food trucks, leading to a rapid growth in popularity among Atherton and Far North locals.

“I believe there are about six local craft brewers in the Far North and I think it’s important we continue supporting local food and drink venues,” Mr Bradford said.

Mr Katter said he looked forward to any opportunity to proudly display North Queensland on a federal stage as he provided a comical warning ahead of the Christmas party.

“If you drink good North Queensland beer, as I did one night, I woke up the next morning – the proud half-owner of 500,000 acres in property. So how about that hey, that’s what beer does,” Mr Katter said.

Describing the beer and his special wraparound label, which features the veteran MP with boxing gloves, Mr Katter noted his nose “was a bit crooked” because he didn’t “win all the fights.”

“This is pure Australian beer, so when the politicians get a bit of hit at the party, not only will they get an Australian hit, but they might get a bit of fire in their souls.”