Mole Creek brewery Wandering Trout Crafty Ales eyes second summer in anticipation

Barman Josh O'Byrne and owner/brewer/chef Justin McLeod at the Wandering Trout's newly refurbished bar. Photo: Sandy Powell
Barman Josh O'Byrne and owner/brewer/chef Justin McLeod at the Wandering Trout's newly refurbished bar. Photo: Sandy Powell

In retrospect, opening a tourism and hospitality business in regional Tasmania in December of 2019 could be seen as a mistake.

But that is not Justin McLeod's outlook as he comes to the end of his first winter as the publican of Wandering Trout Crafty Ales at Mole Creek, Tasmania.

He is the brewer of the new pub's beers and the head chef in the kitchen, as well as the owner of the new venture, and he is optimistic about how it has fared in the first nine months open.

"We're doing better than I expected to be in the middle of winter," Mr McLeod said.

"We've had a lot of Tasmanian travelers visiting. They have missed out on their annual winter holiday to the tropics so they are exploring around here."

The brewery is located on the main road between Launceston and many of the region's tourism hotspots such as the Mole Creek Caves, and the Walls of Jerusalem and Cradle Mountain National Parks.

From the state's north-west, the Trout is less than an hour's drive through the winding roads of Kentish and past Mount Roland.

"Our name is getting out there. People are visiting from all over the state and before the plague we were getting interstate visitors, too.

"People are coming specifically to see us."

Mr McLeod said it is his intent for the Trout to set itself apart from other pubs in the region, by serving only Tasmanian produce - whether it be for drinking or eating.

A permanent 'open mic' set up, with a guitar and two microphones, also adds to the brewery's unique charm.

The chalkboard at the entryway invites anyone to sing a song for a free beer.

Mr McLeod said it was important to him to open the bar in Mole Creek, rather than somewhere with a higher population.

"We wanted to try and do something for the town, to keep it local."

There are plans to expand into accommodation offerings in the future, and Mr McLeod said he is hopeful that will come this summer.

This story How to tap into beer tourism during 'the plague' first appeared on The Advocate.