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FOOD & DRINK

The Best Breweries in Brisbane

With freshly brewed IPAs by the river and beer yoga in the 'burbs, Brisbane is a beer-lover's playground
By Sarah Ward
November 29, 2019
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The Best Breweries in Brisbane

With freshly brewed IPAs by the river and beer yoga in the 'burbs, Brisbane is a beer-lover's playground
By Sarah Ward
November 29, 2019
  shares

THE BEST BREWERIES IN BRISBANE

With freshly brewed IPAs by the river and beer yoga in the 'burbs, Brisbane is a beer-lover's playground

For decades, the XXXX brewery has been a Brisbane landmark, towering over the inner west and lighting up the night sky with its neon sign. The Milton Road mainstay is no longer Brissie's sole beer haven, however. Thanks to the city's thriving, ever-growing craft brewery scene, it has plenty of company.

From passionate outfits just a stone's throw away from the brewery behemoth to the bustling area that's popped up around Newstead and booze-makers slinging their wares in the 'burbs, Brisbane is now a beer-lover's playground. That not only means more ales, lagers and pilsners to sip and savour, but more places to enjoy them — including these: our picks for the best breweries around town.

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    After opening 90 bars over the past eight years, bringing its worldwide footprint to 94, Scottish brewery BrewDog has finally set up shop in Australia. And, sprawled across a hefty parcel of land by the banks of the Brisbane River, it has arrived with a splash. BrewDog’s $30-million street art-covered Brisbane site boasts a heap of reasons to drop by — the first and foremost being to sip freshly poured cold ones on a 485-square-metre riverside patio, of course. BrewDog’s beers (including its famed Punk IPA) sit alongside a heap of small-batch brews from the local craft beer scene. Food-wise, it’s a lineup of familiar bar favourites. Think 11 types of burgers and eight kinds of pizza — plus Korean-style chicken wings, crispy pork, baby squid and barramundi fritters. On weekends, a brunch menu features chicken and waffles, eggs benedict and other classic meals, while you can tuck into two-for-one vegan dishes on Mondays. In addition to 16 blue leather booths and high-top tables, DogTap’s industrial indoor area also has arcade games, including Addams Family and The Munsters-themed pinball machines.

    Image: Pandora Photography

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    Five nights a week, Brissie beer lovers will find the amber liquid flowing at Stone & Wood’s Fortitude Valley brewery and taproom. Of course, even when the doors aren’t open at the heritage-listed building, the eight-hectolitre brewhouse and its five fermenters are still be operational. It’s brewing one-off small batch tipples that are only served at the venue — and, even better, they’re poured straight into your glass from tanks located behind the bar. Don’t expect cocktails, wine or spirits to sip on, or pub-style entertainment like TVs or pokies, either. While you’re here, you’ll drink beer, talk about beer, look at beer-making apparatus and just generally be made fully aware that you’re in a brewery. Oh, and you’ll also be able to eat — thanks to a rotating array of local food vendors. First up is Mr Bunz, because steamed buns and brews go together mighty nicely. If you’re keen to settle into the 150-person space, start knocking back cold ones and take in the view over the street, the venue doesn’t take reservations, so just walk on in.

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    Launching in late 2018, Felons Brewing Co at Howard Smith Wharves. was the first of the precinct’s bars and restaurants to welcome customers. It’s also one of the city’s only riverside breweries, so prepare to sink plenty of hoppy beverages with one mighty fine view of the water, the Story Bridge, Kangaroo Point and the CBD. Felons serves up brews made on the premises, with an Australian pale ale, crisp lager, middy and IPA always on tap — and a sparkling cider, too. A rotating array of other beers are also on offer, as well as a wine list; however, Felons’ other big highlight is its food. Think shucked oysters, prawns with cocktail sauce, hot wings and burgers If you’re settling in for a substantial meal, then mains that range from Moreton Bay bugs to crumbed veal to a whopping one-kilo Angus rib eye are available as well. Making one of HSW’s heritage-listed sheds its home, Felons wants everyone to know that it’s there — so much so that you can spot its name on the brewery’s roof from afar. The black-lettered sign is designed to be a landmark that can be seen from the air, and measures 47 metres long and five metres tall. It’s also a nod to the site’s past, with the wharves’ old warehouses decked out the same way back in the day.

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    Not only part of Brisbane’s growing craft beer scene since 2013, but one of its pioneers, Green Beacon Brewing Co has long attracted all kinds of beer- and seafood-loving moths to its shiny flame. The Teneriffe warehouse is a bustling hive of truly stoked clientele, enjoying the crisp delicious beers fresh from the brewhouse, seafood straight from the trawler, and salty snacks such as the Queensland-made biltong — plus whatever is being served up by one of the food trucks that are parked outside almost every night. The warehouse has a rustic, food hall feel with a great energy created by the incredibly hospitable staff. All of the produce served at Green Beacon is made and sourced locally — and, among the fresh seafood range, you can expect oysters, prawns and bugs to feature heavily. The ocean’s finest is served with plenty of napkins, and there is a basin with soap for you to clean up after your messy but delicious feast. For those wanting to take a roadie, you can also buy growlers and squealers full of Green Beacon’s fresh craft beer — keeping the container to go back and top up on their fantastic brews so that you can enjoy at home as well. And, brew fiends will want to drop by regularly, with the booze purveyors frequently launching new tipples.

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    Brisbane’s inner-city spread might be alive with the smell of brewing beers, but craft beer isn’t just confined to quarters close to the CBD. Over at Salisbury, Ballistic Beer Co has been flying the flag in the suburbs. The brewery also has an alehouse and kitchen in West End, but you’ll need to head south to hang out at its sizeable headquarters. It’s worth the trip — for plenty of brews, obviously, but also for an atmospheric place to drink them. And if you’re keen on a little entertainment with your tipples, the McCarthy Road site loves an event, with beer yoga, brewery tours, mini festivals and street truck shindigs all regular occurrences. As for what you’ll be drinking, it’s a growing range that caters to all beer palettes. Love a classic done well? That’s where Ballistic’s core series comes in, with a lager, pale ale, IPA and European-style, low-alcohol ‘table beer’. More IPAs are on offer across the three-brew single hop series, while the oaked ale and XPA serve up a hearty flavour. Indeed, for a brewery that’s only been open since 2017, Ballistic punches above its boozy weight.

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    Inspired by European craft beer vibes and co-founded by Gerard Martin and Matt McIver, Range Brewing takes seasonality very seriously. It doesn’t have a specific core range like most breweries do. Instead, its brews are ever-changing, depending on the season and available ingredients. Expect hoppy, dark and sour beers to dominate, all brewed with Californian-designed equipment. Located in Newstead, just a few blocks north of Gasworks, Range’s warehouse-style taproom serves up whatever is pumping through the ten taps from Wednesday–Sunday. The space has a Scandinavian-inspired fit-out, which was designed and built by the Range crew. Think a beer hall with concrete-topped share tables, steel-based chairs and communal booths that seat 90, with space for 120 all up. For food, Range slings sourdough pizzas from its onsite commercial kitchen. If you’re keen to try something other than beer — however blasphemous that may be — the bar also offers wine, gin, whisky and soft drinks from all-Australian and independently-owned producers.

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    When is a brewery and bar more than just a brewery and bar? When it’s also a cellar door. Borrowing a bit of terminology from the wine industry, Slipstream Brewing Company wants Brisbane beer lovers to drop by, sample its wares and take their favourites home with them. Opt for a tasting paddle, schooner or pint while you kick about at the Yeerongpilly warehouse, then grab a four-pack or growler for later. While Slipstream isn’t afraid of getting experimental — whipping up a Parfait Milkshake IPA for 2018’s GABS festival, for example — its standard range covers the bases, including a tropical pale ale, a rye pale ale, an American red ale, a pilsner with a pun-tastic name (Yerongpils), an IPA and a flavoursome XPA. Hops are the hero here, with the brewery favouring hop-forward beers which lean more to the bitter and fruity, rather than towards malt tastes. Nestled into an industrial park, it’s a labour of love for owners Deale and Elisa Stanley-Hunt, Brisbane locals who took inspiration from the US beer scene, then brought their ideas back home And if you’re after a bite during cellar door hours (from Friday–Sunday), look out for the rotating food truck lineup.

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    Since late 2013, Newstead Brewing Co has been giving inner-north locals exactly what they want: beer, and plenty of it. Born and headquartered in a former 1940s bus depot, this beer-loving outfit helped establish Brisbane’s now-thriving craft brew scene — and it might be an old hand by now, but it’s a stalwart for a reason. Open seven days a week in Doggett Street (with a second venue launching in Milton in 2017), Newstead Brewing’s original location ensures that you know it’s a brewery. The chrome, the smell, the warehouse decked out for sitting and sampling (and making beer, obviously) — it’s a boozy haven. While a range of tipples are available in both bottles and cans, and you can opt for spirits or wine if you prefer, grabbing a pint from one of the 12 taps is highly recommended. Like all good breweries, the new and limited-edition selection is worth keeping an eye on; at the time of writing, Wiz pHizz Hoppy Sour just joined the lineup. Snacks include fries with smoky garlic soy aioli, buffalo wings and miso onigiri. Or, opt for five types of pizza, two types of bao, three varieties of burger, or mains such as chicken parmys, lamb rump and bibimbap.

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    Setting up shop just a stone’s throw away from the Story Bridge, Sea Legs Brewing Co has transformed a former industrial warehouse into Kangaroo Point’s newest watering hole. Created by five engineering mates, including co-owner Dave Machin, it boasts five of its own beers as well as the facilities to brew plenty more — with Jon Fuchs overseeing the hoppy drops as head brewer. If you’re a beer nerd, you’ll be excited to know that the spot features a 15-hectolitre brewery that can ferment up to a 9000 litres, as well as an extra 100-litre setup for speciality, seasonal and experimental tipples. And while Sea Legs is focused on its tropical lager, golden ale, pale ale and IPA at present, as well as an interesting sounding oats and lactose-infused milk stout, one-off batches are on the agenda down the track. The inner-city newcomer also serves up the type of bar food that pairs well with a cold one (or several), spanning seven kinds of pizza, three different burgers, fried chicken wings, haloumi chips and build-your-own charcuterie and cheese boards.

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    Every corner of the city seems to house a craft beer bar, and a growing number make their own tasty tipples on the premises. West End watering hole The Catchment Brewing Co. fits both categories, serving ice-cold pints not only poured fresh from the keg, but also brewed on site. Indeed, it should be smiles all round at the Boundary Street venue, which boasts two levels and two laneway hangout areas within its renovated art deco confines. The relaxed atmosphere is enough to make patrons want to stay all day — and that’s before you get to the menus. The food offering features favourite gastropub fare, such as southern-fried chicken burgers, crab rolls, reuben sangas and tacos — aka the ideal meals to line the stomach with. On the drinks side, wine gets plenty of attention, with 25 drops to choose from. Of course, then there’s the beer. Local and international brews sit alongside Catchment’s in-house Bright Ale, Pale Select Ale and The 500 IPA, as well as its special releases. Pick one of the ales if you like your beer with a fruity flavour, and go for the IPA if you’re just mad about hops.

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    Many a bar, pub, club and watering hole line Fortitude Valley’s streets; however, until Soapbox (then Stone & Wood) one thing the suburb didn’t have was a brewery. Taking over an old agricultural store on the corner of Gipps Street and Ranwell Lane, it both brews and serves up its hoppy beverages onsite. Pouring through the taps, you’ll find the likes of a malt and citrus-heavy pale ale, a chocolatey and bitter dark ale, an IPA with orange notes, a slightly sweet kolsch and an American-style amber ale. To help line the stomach, Soapbox also slings a menu of share plates, snacks, steaks and burgers, many of which include beer as an ingredient. Between pints, you can tuck into potato curry croquettes with a pale ale vindaloo sauce or a grilled wagyu beer steak with a porter onion gravy. As for the folks responsible, Soapbox is the brainchild of craft beer aficionados Luke Nixon and Scott Robertson, who started home-brewing six years ago. They’ve now traded in their film industry and corporate jobs to jump from making tipples in their backyards to whipping up beverages in the centre of Brissie’s nightlife scene, with help from Greg James as their new head brewer.

    Images: Rachael Nixon.

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Top image: Stone & Wood Brewery

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