There are no shortages of drinking holes at Airlie Beach. It once was known as a backpackers town afterall. However, if you’re past hostel-life, then you’ll love all the chic new alfresco dining options popping up around town. Denman Cellars opened in early 2012 and is both a bottleshop and a restaurant, overlooking the Airlie Beach Marina. It has become the go-to spot for locals and visitors looking to unwind over beer and tapas.
You’ll love the wide variety of Australian and imported beers and ciders. There are over 1000 on the menu with approximately 800 of them in stock and available for immediate consumption in-store. The other 200 or so can be ordered in upon request. Staff are utmost knowledgeable so take the time so wander around and ask for recommendations.
We try Erdinger’s limited edition Oktoberfest brew from Bavaria, which is medium-bodied with a slight hint of banana, and Matso’s mango beer, from Broome in Western Australia, one of their best sellers. The mango beer is perfect for me, it’s easy to drink, has a luscious aroma and is well balanced between the sweet and dryness.
Originally just a bottle shop in Canberra, the beer cafe concept was dreamed up by owners Ben and Sarah Hayman, who basically designed the restaurant for themselves – a place to drink, hang out with friends and share some fine food.
Platters range from $10 for a selection of dips to $55 for a seafood platter. Our charcuterie board ($29) features jamon serrano, two types of salami, prosciutto, cornichons, pate, mustard and some fresh rocket with balsamic. Assembled on a large wooden board, the spread of cured meats are enjoyable, although I’d exchange the mini cob loaf for a good sourdough as I feel like it needs something with more bite.
Tapas are categorised into vegetarian, from the sea, and from the land which makes ordering easy. I’m very fond of patatas bravas ($7) , a staple tapas dish made of crispy potatoes and spicy tomato sauce; these definitely hit the spot. The potatoes are perfectly crunchy and moreish and the sauce contains just the right amount of fiery.
The zucchini balls ($9) are delicious also. The fritters are robust in flavour and paired beautifully with a garlic and dill yoghurt dressing.
For curiousity’s sake, we try the meatballs in cherry beer ($9.50). Hand rolled meatballs are pan fried then deglazed with cherry Lambric beer and served in a Spanish tomato sauce. The floral fragrance of cherry is faint but present. The meatballs are much firmer that what I was expecting, although they’re still comforting to devour.
Denman Cellars is a great opportunity to try those hard to source beers. One worth checking out is Chimay Triple, a Trappist beer. Only eight breweries worldwide have this stamp. Trappist beer must be made in a Trappist monastery and the beer is sold only for financial support of the monastery and good causes.
Staying on my fruity path, I ask about a cherry beer and am recommended Floris Kriek which is made with Marachino cherries by Brouwerij Huydhe brewery in Belgium. It’s slightly cloudy and has a bold, sweet but almost-medicinal cherry taste. It’s probably one you’ll either love or hate – for the record, I love it!
The last of our savoury tapas are kataifi prawns ($7). The crunch is great, and the prawns are perfectly cooked. The three perfect circles of wasabi mayonnaise lifts the presentation from something quite hearty to a molecular gastronomy league, but the scattered seaweed salad and the surrounding squiggle of a green sauce takes it one garnish too far.
Dessert is a Kahlua infused cheesecake ($9) and a cider apple crumble ($9). The Kahlua liqueur adds a delicate note to the cheesecake and is not at all overpowering. The apple crumble is even better; the cider stewed apple is divine and the crumble topping is deliciously nutty with chunky bits of roasted pecans and pistachios stirred through the cinnamon mixture.
With a gem like Denman Cellars Beer Cafe at The Whitsundays, I don’t think I’d miss city living! In fact, the other states are certainly missing out!
Shop G15, 33 Port Drive, The Port of Airlie, Airlie Beach, Queensland
Phone: (07) 4948 1333
Open from 11am Monday – Friday and from 8am on the weekends
For further information, visit tourismwhitsundays.com.au
I Ate My Way Through dined as guests of Denman Cellars with thanks to Whitsundays Marketing and Development