One of the most frequent questions I get asked is ‘where is a great place to head for a drink?’ An answer to which could take days, but by asking a few questions in reply, we can quickly whittle down to what people really want. More and more, I see that most people don’t want to head to places that are so packed, you can’t get a set – or so loud that you can’t have a conversation with your friends. Moreso, I find that people just want a great, friendly and odern venue where they can enjoy their surrounds as they enjoy their tipple.
The guide below is a listing of South East Queensland and Northern NSW’s best places to enjoy a cold craft beer, or find one to take home. If you think this guide is missing anything please get in touch.
I do already have a list on the site of great venues to tour but if you’re looking for something a little more comprehensive, then the list below is probably for you!
BREWERIES AND BREWPUBS
Burleigh Brewing Company
17A Ern Harley Drive, Burleigh Heads
Burleigh Brewing are Queensland’s flagship craft brewery. Pumping out fantastic ‘regular’ beers like 78 pale ale, Hef witbier and Bighead low-carb, they also produce acclaimed seasonal beers like Black Giraffe and Fanny Gert’s Bickie Beer. Their beers are now widely available in stores and on tap, but nothing beats a visit to their huge brewhouse, where you can find master brewer Brennan and ‘My Wife’s Bitter’ namesake Peta doing their thing. The brewhouse only opens to the public once a month, but Thirsty Critters tour guests are always welcome!
Stone & Wood Brewery
4 Boronia Place, Byron Bay NSW
A small and very friendly brewery run by a few of Australia’s most renowned brewers in the back blocks of Byron Bay. Their flagship beer Pacific Ale was voted Australia’s #1 beer in the 2011 Critics Choice Awards. They also brew a Pale Lager made entirely from German malt and hops, and the occassional special brew like Stone Beer and Red Relief. Locals also get to enjoy their Kellerbier, on tap at pubs in the Byron district only (and for those in the know – it’s also on tap at the Brisbane German Club).
165-185 Long Road, North Tamborine
MT Brewery is part of a very popular and tourist-friendly complex atop Mt Tamborine at Eagle Heights, sitting alongside the excellent Witches Chase Cheese Company and Liquid Amber restaurant. There’s around 7 craft beers on tap at any time, including 2 Belgian ales and the legendary Black Cockatoo dark lager. Their Belgian ‘St Bridget’ dubbel is also highly prized.
601 Stanley Street (Cnr Annerley Rd), Woolloongabba
Many years ago Brisbane had a brewpub called Aurora’s in the CBD – the same people that moved on from there re-opened in South Brisbane at the Clarence Corner Hotel in 2010. The old pub is still at the front, but out the back is a relaxing lounge with the Brewhouse range on tap, including Sunshine honey wheat, Brisbane Pale Ale and seasonals like Up Yer Kilt Scottish Ale! Fantastic food is also available.
Sunshine Coast Brewery Bar and Restaurant
22 Ocean Street (intersection of Ocean Street & Horton Parade), Maroochydore
The Sunshine Coast Brewery itself is located in the Kunda Park industrial area, but now you no longer have to make your way out there to enjoy their award-winning range of beer. The Brewery Bar & Restaurant is located quite close to Sunshine Plaza in Maroochydore and has all their beers on tap, including a fantastic Rye ESB and Best Bitter, and for the brave, a chili Beer! There is also a great variety of food on offer.
Byron Bay Brewery
1 Skinners Shoot Road, Byron Bay NSW
Located at the old Arts Factory, the Byron Bay Brewery is part of a complex also including a cinema, day spa, concert venue and backpackers accommodation! Six of their in-house beers are usually on tap, including a very good pilsener and their great ‘Billy Goat’ dark lager. There’s a huge beer garden to sit in and enjoy the good beer and Byron vibes.
2 Christine Place, Capalaba
Bacchus Brewing is a ‘brew for you’ type operation with a difference – they’re all-grain brewers, meaning your beer is brewed exactly like your favourite craft beer is made. They can brew a huge range of beers for you, and friendly proprietor Ross is always happy to take you through his range of beers available for your brewing pleasure. Some of their beers are starting to appear at beer festivals and on tap at places like Archive, so keep an eye out!
525 Boundary Street, Spring Hill
With the demise of Oxford 152 and The Brewhouse, the International Hotel is currently Brisbane City’s only microbrewery. They’ve got four on tap, including a wheat beer, pilsener, Irish ale and midstrength.
BARS, CLUBS & PUBS
100 Boundary Street, West End
With the demise of the Platform Bar, Archive is now Brisbane’s only ‘A Grade’ craft beer bar. Their front bar maintains a steady range of excellent Australian craft beers on tap, while their ‘Next Door’ bar showcases even more on constant rotation. They hold very regular craft beer appreciation evenings and the occasional craft beer festival. After you’ve sampled a few draught beers, head out the back to their bottle shop to take some home – they have the best range of take-away craft beer in Brisbane. You can also buy a growler to refill each time you come back!
The Spotted Cow
296 Ruthven St, Toowoomba
Toowoomba is the unlikely home of the Queensland pub that has been the most vocal supporter of craft beer for many years. They always have a few great taps of Aussie craft beer on the go, a huge range in the fridge, and constant lashings of live music to enjoy your beer with. Their inaugural ’Milking The Cow’ craft beer festival in 2011 was a huge success, and promises to get even bigger thanks to the huge amount of support that the beer-loving folk behind ‘The Cow’ have cultivated. A must-visit if you’re up on the range.
Constance Street (Ann Street End), Fortitude Valley
The only place you can get a decent beer in the Valley. No taps, but a great range in the fridge, including selections from Yeastie Boys and Holgate. A wonderful place to relax with a cold beer, with great ambience and superb retro decor.
Brisbane German Club
416 Vulture Street, East Brisbane
An amazing range of German beers you won’t find anywhere else, including the bizarre rauchbier (smoked beer) and wonderful weissbeir (wheat beers) like Maissel’s Weisse. Awesome German food at great prices too.
The Pig & Whistle
123 Eagle Street, Brisbane
Worth a mention here because they always have Stone & Wood on tap. The ‘Spitfire’ is actually a bitter brewed by Burleigh Brewing, and they have recently had Murray’s Punch & Judy Pale Ale on tap too. Worth a look if you’re down that end of the CBD.
Platform Bar @ Grand Central Hotel
270 Ann Street, Brisbane Central Station
Now defunct, thanks to the major brewers stamping out their craft beer taps.
Next Door Cellars
85 Russell Street, West End
So called because they’re next door to Archive (you have to actually walk in the back door of Archive), Next Door Cellars is one huge refrigerated room full of tasty, tasty craft beer from Australia and abroad. An outstanding selection, including some very rare and premium beers under lock and key!
The following bottle shop chains stock a very good range of Australian and international craft brews:
87 Charlotte Street, Brisbane
196 Musgrave Road, Red Hill
Chalk & Cheese
Locations in Kelvin Grove, Fortitude Valley, West End, Tenerife & Auchenflower
Melbourne Hotel Cellarbrations
2-12 Browning Street, West End
Good Beer Lunches
Join renowned beer expert Matt Kirkegaard (ex-Beer & Brewer editor and regular contributor to The Punch) on a journey through great food and beer. Held regularly at beer-friendly venues around town, each Good Beer Lunch matches four gastronomic treats with a fantastic beer. A highly recommended experience.