The Best Breweries in Brisbane
With freshly brewed IPAs by the river and cold ones in the 'burbs, Brisbane is a beer-lover's playground
April 14, 2021
THE BEST BREWERIES IN BRISBANE
With freshly brewed IPAs by the river and cold ones 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.
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, while, food-wise, it’s a lineup of familiar bar favourites. Think burgers, pizza, bottomless wings on Wednesdays and 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
While no one will ever pass up an excuse to visit Byron Bay, that’s no longer the only option for Brissie Stone & Wood fans. Beer lovers will find the amber liquid flowing at the company’s Fortitude Valley brewery and taproom — in a heritage-listed building, complete with an eight-hectolitre brewhouse and five fermenters. 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 the canteen menu. If you’re keen to settle into the 150-person space, start knocking back cold ones and take in the view over the street, you can head by from Wednesday–Sunday.
Launching in late 2018 in a heritage-listed shed emblazoned with its name in giant lettering, 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 coral trout to zucchini and basil lasagne 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.
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. In normal times, 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, plus whatever is being served up by one of the food trucks that are parked outside almost every night. And, it’s a great spot for takeaway brews. You can 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. Brew fiends will want to drop by regularly, in fact, with the booze purveyors frequently launching new tipples.
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, setting up its sizeable headquarters on the southern side of town. It’s worth the trip — for beer yoga, brewery tours, mini festivals and street truck shindigs at the McCarthy Road site. 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 and oaked XPA among the styles on offer. Indeed, for a brewery that’s only been open since 2017, Ballistic punches above its boozy weight. Ballistic also boasts its own sites in West End and Springfield, spreading its brews around.
Inspired by European craft beer vibes, 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 Thursday–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. And for food, Range slings sourdough pizzas from its onsite commercial kitchen.
Since setting up shop on Brisbane’s southside back in 2017, Slipstream Brewing Company has been brewing, pouring and selling craft beers, all thanks to a Yeerongpilly site that doubles as a bar and a cellar door. It’s become one of the area’s booze-slinging mainstays in the process, but now it’s giving locals another reason to stop by, relaunching its Wilkie Street base with a new brewpub. Since February, Slipstream has expanded, with a 250-person space welcoming in beer lovers for indoor and outdoor dining — including in a big beer garden — and to drink from 20 taps pouring its brews. A Californian-inspired food menu is also on offer, spanning light dishes overseen by chefs Adam Healey (BrewDog DogTap Brisbane) and Karma Garung (The Smoke BBQ), such as fish tacos with battered barramundi, southern-style fried chicken burgers and popcorn cauliflower with ranch dipping sauce. With an Italian pizza oven and a smoker taking pride of place in the kitchen, you can expect plenty of woodfired pizzas and slow-cooked meats as well.
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.Now a mainstay 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. And, the food lineup includes fries with aioli, buffalo wings, five types of pizza, two varieties of burger and chicken parmys.
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, it boasts a six-beer range, as well as the facilities to brew plenty more. 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, plus 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 a milk stout and gose, one-off batches are on the agenda down the track. The inner-city venue also serves up the type of bar food that pairs well with a cold one (or several), spanning nine kinds of pizza, three different burgers, chicken wings, cheeseburger spring rolls and build-your-own charcuterie and cheese boards.
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 tapas, pizzas, wings, tacos and burgers, while, on the drinks side, wine gets plenty of attention. Of course, then there’s the beer. Local and international brews sit alongside Catchment’s in-house Whynot Lager, Pale Select Ale, Hoogley Session and Vulture 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.
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 might 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 and burgers. 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.
Top image: Stone & Wood Brewery