The Charming Squire, James Squire and Mantle Group's industrial-chic brew bar, commands a central, stoic yet warmly welcoming position in South Brisbane's entertainment and cultural precinct.
The venue is truly like no other in our fair city. Stepping inside, one is immediately treated to a "have I died and gone to Sophisticated Beer Barn Heaven?" moment. High ceilings, exposed kegs, a shiny timber and stainless steel fit-out and a copper-covered main bar replete with the rogues gallery of Squire beers and ciders on tap adorn the plush ground floor. Stairs lead to a mezzanine level, the River Bar, complete with another bar and old-timey memorabilia. All of this is a fitting ode to the eponymous roguish-convict-turned-brewer himself, James Squire.
For too long, the scoundrels, playboys and affable scamps of Brisbane have lacked a true mecca, but we think they may finally have one at the Squire. And fear not – tweed jackets are not compulsory for entry, but are always encouraged.
The first frothy cab off the rank is summer ale A Close Shave, brewed on-site by maestro craft hopster Anthony Clem. Since opening, all of The Charming Squire's house-tap brews have been hugely popular with punters and have seen a high turnover with some very busy brewing: the ultimate "good problem" for a new venue. Made from the rare El Dorado hop, A Close Shave is a crisp, slightly fruity and refreshing ale fit for the sun-struck months.
During our visit we also got our mitts all over other Squire staples The Chancer golden ale and One Fifty Lashes pale. Non-beer-drinkers are not forgotten; a hearty wine, spirit and cocktail list is on hand, too. And if you're looking to really party, the Squire is also host to five different function spaces, including the private River Room upstairs, with space for more than 100 revellers.
Alas, time constraints thwarted our desire to explore the culinary delights served up by Charming Squire head chef and certified paddock-to-plate magician Deniz Coskun. With a sizeable selection of share plates, woodfired steaks and pizzas, the venue looks more than able to sate hunger as well as thirst.
Located within a short stroll of South Brisbane train and busway stations (Concrete Playground encourages safe drink-travel) — as well as QPAC, the Convention and Exhibition Centre and GOMA, among others — The Charming Squire is also the beer-lover's ideal place to start or nightcap an evening of theatre or an exhibition (why yes, southerners, we do have some; it's just in a concrete box). Of course, you may just prefer to stay at the Squire the whole time, and there'd be nothing wrong with that.
Images: Grace Smith.