I got away up north to the Sunshine Coast which is a great beach spot north of brisbane but south of pretty much everywhere else in North Queensland. I spent a day or two in Marcoola, which had a beach at the doorstep, but not much else. I spent a day driving around up to Noosa and down to Maroochydore. Though the trip was not a beer getaway I did manage to understand ‘somewhat’ what is happening up north. Being a ‘SydneySider’ and spending time in a bar with my own beer glass it easy to get blinded by what is happening elsewhere.
Maroochydore / Alexandra Heads
I popped into two venues in this region that appeared to have good results on “NowTapped” and through acquantances mentioning. So this is my outtake of these bars, and the city. I was actually surprised more so by a shopping centre with a Farmers Market inside.
Located in the main street of the town, the bar itself is more bistro, restaurant in style. The barmen were helping in giving tastes in frosted/chilled glasses straight from the freezer. Though I’m guessing for many months of the year, tis hotter than hell. I had the Moondog Beers ‘Splice’ and ‘Gaytime’. Being still quite early, mid-afternoon and driving I then had a beer, checked email and headed off.
Black Bunny Bar – Alexandra Heads
This bar was going to be on the list for the Panhead Triple IPA that was listed on the NowTapped app. The bar itself is located against one of those awful ‘Breakfree Family’ resorts. Upon entering I spoke to a great barmen ‘Locke’ who was as passionate about beer as I have seen in a barmen. But had he met the likes of me, who I assume can be rude/arrogant and pretentious to those who don’t know me and encounter me.
There is a time where you can listen to a barmen and this bar is one of those. I enjoyed the beer and conversation, and got an idea of there business ideas for beer, and also tasted their “Brewbacca” pale ale that was delicious. In a time when craft beer is growing and everybody is a brewer, some bars are creating contracts with brewers, or vice versa to attain the special beers. This bar is similar to my favorite destination in Sydney BitterPhew through the idea of being definitive about which beers, and style they buy and sell.
I was last in Brisbane in 1988 when I was 14 years old. It was Expo 1988 and my lasting memory was meeting a girl at this show, who lived in a far away place, and I was living in Canada. So heart breaking!! but that was a million years ago when the only beer I had drunk at that time was Labatts Blue as a 14-15 year old. Having a few names of bars I decided to spend a day or so in the BIG SMOKE and test these bars.
This was my first stop, as I was looking for Tipplers Tap, but came across this brewery first. I had a paddle of some beers, booked my hotel for the night and then decided I’d check in my hotel before getting to bars that night.
Overall though it was great to see their brewery, as I have seen their beers appear in Sydney. The brewery was located next to the BOQ headquarters, and the nearby shopping centre was very much centred towards the corporates in the nearby buildings. It reminded me of a brewpub concept in the US. The beers were nothing outstanding for my tastes, but if you lived nearby you would be a frequent visitor.
This was an impressive bar, and I think if I did live in Brisbane would be my night out, relax and chill bar. Bartender was very enthusiastic and wanted to share his passion for beer, and it showed. He even had the beard, but his ability to talk beer to a beer guy was great. He cared and loved the beers on tap.
The bottle list was impressive as well, definitely something of a theme for QLD, the bottled beers far outshine the taplist. Though having Stone Thunderstuck was a ‘FUCKYEAH’ moment, along with a Newstead Imperial Stout in a ‘Pony’ which I had never had before. Those were the two standout beers in my time there, as I had the Burger, which was wasn’t a standout, but more ‘Interesting’.
This bar has a great reputation and was the one bar name I knew the name of before coming up. But unfortunately on this night I timed a ‘Hargreaves Hill’ tap takeover. I was more interested in having local beer at this bar, which they normally do, but the timing was not to be. The bar staff were very gracious and used to disappointed beer nerds like myself. No disrespect to Hargreaves but I was looking for something local, or at least High Alcohol. Though you did have on your ‘Tripel’ so I should be quiet.
The bottle list was superb again at Scratch and it was beginning to be a theme for bars with 100+ bottles on their list curated like a wine list in a good restaurant. Staff here knew their beers too, and also served my big alcoholic beer in a snifter glass without even asking. The only downside was in my suggesting that maybe they should join ‘NowTapped‘ so people can see whats on tap. Their response was ‘check our website’. It’s like bars who say ‘we update on facebook’.
My Take on the Beer Scene ?
This was the first visit to QLD in 30 something years for me. I think the beer scene is impressive in the bottle sense, and well curated lists from passionate bar staff. Is the city mature enough yet for more taps ? I would deem so, but likely its just a few years back from the older brother ‘Sydney, who are back from ‘Melbourne’. I think the bar staff were amazing in all venues, and to put up with an arrogant prick like me, they did well.
I think the standout bars were definitely Brewski & BlackBunny for my mind. Service and Passion of bar staff can outweigh a less than enviable tap selection. But overall I think Queenslanders can be proud their bottles lists far outweigh anything in Sydney, a city with 6 million. I’d be happy to spend time in a bar with the selection in bottles, if local selection wasn’t available.
Wouldn’t call Brisbane a Beer destination for Australia, but if you live in the state you are not going to go dry. I think the potential for growth is definitely there. Currently they are still having a lot of taps of ‘Interstate beers’ to fill the void from local QLD producers. Though in Sydney to be fair we have lots of Melbourne based brewers.
Also the beaches have have been amazing.. saved for another post..