I turned up in Brisbane thirsty. The kind of thirst that only a stiff drink or well-poured brew could possibly quench. While it’s no secret that Aussies are a generally hop-happy breed, this laid-back Queensland capital takes its swill rather seriously, turning the act of casual beer drinking into a veritable art form. A bevy of new boutique beer bars and microbreweries have recently cropped up about town, with top taps turning out specialty suds and respectable bar bites in stylish, yet unpretentious, settings.
Fresh off a South Pacific dream trip-turned-travel nightmare, I had spent the last week fleeing the path of a cyclone that rocked my cruise ship for days in relentlessly choppy seas; my beau picked up a gastrointestinal parasite that triggered late-night hospital visits and never-again-to-be-mentioned bodily responses; and, for good measure, my laptop simultaneously crashed, with a slew of article deadlines looming. So, when I received word that the “Thirsty Thursday” blog had just been born, I diligently answered the call of duty, diving in on some sweet, sorrow-drenching research, angled on a favorite Australian pastime: Drinking beer, glorious beer.
Catering to local beer enthusiasts who have exhibited an ever-growing thirst for quality craft beer (it seems the longtime local standby and mass-market brewer powerhouse XXXX could no longer cut it), the face of beer in Brisbane is rapidly changing to reflect a “drink less, drink better” mentality. This latest batch of craft beer-themed bars serves to support independent brewers both locally and globally, with menus showcasing a wide selection of small batch and seasonally released brews, heralded for their diversity in flavor and subtle complexities.
Green Beacon Brewing Company
Opened in January, in the up-and-coming Teneriffe ‘hood, this brewery-meets-bar anchors its taps on a half-dozen core concoctions, spiced up with switched-out seasonal and limited edition blends. The rustic, industrial-themed space occupies an old warehouse, with a lofty bar setting that doubles as working on-site brew house (with vats in full view behind the lengthy bar). A simple but tasty menu highlights nibbles like local cheeses and Queensland-sourced seafood à la oysters and mussels. (Tip: Take-home growlers and squealers –small and large bottles of your favorite brew – ensure instant popularity, should you be invited back by some newfound mates to sample some shrimp on the barbie.)
Set in the Villager Hotel in the city center, this 2.5-year-old modern multilevel gastropub offers a robust menu of domestic craft and international boutique beers, with a rotating roster of local favorites on tap – not to mention a generous wine and cocktail list. Set yourself down at the long bar, lounge area, or top-floor supper club, where the relaxed, beer-savvy bar staff are happy to make recommendations. The refined pub grub is reason enough to swing by, with inspired gastronomical takes on classic comfort food, like melt-in-your-mouth fish and chips or a goat cheese panna cotta that my palate is still reminiscing about – all served up with beer pairing suggestions, naturally. Try to sync up a visit with one of their regularly scheduled beer dinners: multicourse beer-and-food-pairing affairs, hosted by seasoned beer experts.
Archive Beer Boutique
Wander to this West End favorite which, at just a few years old, is a veteran of the Brisbane brew-bar revolution. Expect a staggering selection of some 400 local microbrews and hard-to-come-by international blends (including 14 regularly rotating beers on draft), with on-staff beer connoisseurs well-versed in the bar’s veritable “archive” of brews. There’s plenty of space to stretch out, even when crowds pour in for the live bands or weekday pool competitions. Stick around for solid Australian bistro fare, and pop into the bottle shop next door, which stocks Brisbane’s widest variety of craft beers.
Incurable travel addict, longtime travel scribe, and mindful money-saver Elissa Richard is currently indulging her insatiable wanderlust on an epic 14-month journey around the globe – intent on making it every step of the way without busting her modest budget. Follow her along the way as she reports back with budget-savvy travel tips from the mountains of Transylvania to the wilds of Tasmania, and from the little-trodden temples of Burma to the bustling bars and clubs of Buenos Aires. A vagabond in search of value, just for ShermansTravel!