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Sustaining the REAL Difference

The popularity of Bundaberg Ginger Beer is no mistake. It’s the result of years and years doing it the hard way. After-all, the family motto is ‘if it’s worth brewing, it’s worth brewing well’.

The same approach applies to everything we do. From the ginger farmers across Bundaberg and South East Queensland, to the brewers in the brewhouse and the team on the bottling floor, everything is done with purpose. The hard way.

Ross Maxwell is one man trying to make the hard way a little bit easier.

“I’ve been interested in growing crops sustainably and organically since the 1970s,” says Ross, “back then I was considered a little extravagant, but here I am today, working with Bundaberg Brewed Drinks, exploring the possibilities in ginger sustainability.”

Ross heads up the team at the Bundaberg Research Farm and shares his wisdom gained from many years farming fruit throughout Australia.

At Bundaberg Brewed Drinks, Ross’s main mission is to determine the best way of growing flavourful ginger in a sustainable way.

Just a couple of years into their program, Ross’s team are already capable of delivering 40 tonne of Queensland Gold Ginger per season. Queensland Gold ginger just happens to be the perfect type for our Ginger Beer.

“It’s not easy farming ginger the traditional way” explains Ross, “you can’t control the weather, it’s hard to manage bacteria and ginger diseases and you become reliant on fertilizer and chemicals. We’re trying to find the best ways to farm ginger without compromising on a great taste.”

Unlike traditional farming, the Bundaberg Research Farm is plotted out with rows of hot houses. Each plant is grown hydroponically in ideal conditions with the team monitoring for any changes throughout the ginger growth cycle.

“Growing ginger in a green-house environment means we can control the impact the environment has on the crop, but it doesn’t mean we block nature out” explains Ross, “people get a little nervous when they visit, we’ve got spiders and lady beetles all throughout but they’re here for a reason. There are good pests and bad pests and we’re about letting them do the hard work for us.” 

The team at the Bundaberg Research Farm are quite proud of what they have achieved so far, but the hard work doesn’t end there, and the team are always striving for more.

“For me it’s about answering the questions and each answer brings about new questions” says Ross, “It’s the same at home, I have my own garden growing a variety of edibles from guava to passionfruit, tomatoes and asparagus. if we can work out different strategies to sustainably farm ginger we can apply those same learnings across a wide range of crops.”

Ross spends his time visiting the different farmers around Bundaberg sharing his learnings with the wider farming community, “We really want share our findings with other ginger farmers in the area, sustainable farming isn’t just great for Bundaberg, it’s great for the region too.”

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