Three epic craft beer trails in Brisbane

What makes drinking craft beer better? Chicken wings, obviously. But as for what would make you feel slightly better about drinking all that beer? How about walking a few hundred metres between venues – incidental exercise, baby. 

So we put in the hard yards – drinking, walking and thinking – to come up with three cracking craft beer trails through Brisbane (with a few cheeky bonuses). Luckily for us, more and more local craft beers seem to be finding their way onto taps in pubs and bars across the city, meaning you can often grab a Brisbane-brewed beer at your local. But these craft beer trails celebrate the specialists: The breweries, pubs and bars completely dedicated to the delicious, weird and wonderful world of beer.

North Brisbane craft beer crawl: Newstead and Fortitude Valley

Brisbane’s original craft beer “precinct” is now bigger than ever, with more choice and more reason to take a wander and wet your whistle. While the general Newstead area was by no means the first to host a single craft bar or brewery, the 2012-13 launches of three key venues in quick succession created a groundswell of support among the city’s drinkers. The Beermuda Triangle (Tippler’s Tap, Green Beacon Brewing Co and Newstead Brewing Co) was born, and lives again thanks to Tippler’s Tap’s new James Street venue.

Range Brewing

As with all these trails, you can set off in whatever direction you please, but we figure it’s worth kicking off your pilsener parade with the new kid. Range Brewing opened up its Scandi-inspired Newstead venue in May 2018, opting for an ever-changing mix of brews rather than focusing on a core range like the suburb’s more-established breweries. You can also grab a sourdough pizza if you’re feeling peckish, but we’d recommend waiting for the next stop.

Newstead Brewing Co.

Hungry? Tuck in to a late lunch at Newstead Brewing Co. For one, the later you arrive, the harder it will be to jag a table in the packed warehouse. But more importantly, the city’s craft brewing behemoth cranks out some damn good food options. The chicken wings are arguably Brisbane’s best but you’ll also find a reasonably varied range of pizzas, burgers, chips and mains. Think classic pub fare with the fancy dialed up a couple of notches, but the price stuck firmly in pub territory. Newstead’s pale and golden ales are perennial favourites but the 12 taps regularly feature brews from and collaborations with other local brewers.

Green Beacon Brewing Co.

Green Beacon

The year 2013 marked a turning point for Brisbane’s craft lovers as Green Beacon threw open its roller doors in January, the first of a new wave of combined brewery and bars in the river city. It’s the logical next stop on your inner-north Brisbane ale trail after Newstead. With a similar warehouse layout, 16 different beers available depending on the season and a chilled vibe, if you liked the last venue, you’ll feel right at home here. We love craft beer for its variety, so check out how different GB’s pale ale offering is from Newstead’s and try the tropical pale ale or grab a passionfruit gose. You’ll also find a food truck outside on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights. 

Tippler’s Tap

In 2012, Tippler’s Tap was the first craft beer bar to open its doors in Newstead, eventually forming the “Beermuda Triangle” when Newstead Brewing and Green Beacon opened the next year. After moving to South Bank three years later, the prodigal son returned to the northside in mid-2018 with a new and radically different offering. The James Street bar will serve breakfast paired with coffee from Sydney’s excellent Single O roastery, before dedicating all 14 taps to South East Queensland breweries (something they say wasn’t possible in 2012). So if walking isn’t your thing (we’re not sure why you’re still reading this article) it’s a great place to try a lot of the region’s best in one spot.

Revel Brewing Co.

Finally, it’s ferry time. As the Lord of the Rings taught us, every adventure is improved with a river crossing, and the fellowship didn’t even have a nice cold beer waiting for it on the other side. Revel Brewing Co’s opening in December 2017 marked the first time beer was brewed commercially in riverside Bulimba since the nostalgically loved Bulimba Gold Top disappeared in the 1980s. You’ll find 12 taps offering a core range and seasonal rotations, plus wood-fired pizza and a beer garden to round out your inner-north tap tour. All aboard!

See the bonus round at the bottom for why you should consider including Banyo’s excellent All Inn Brewing Co. on your northside crawl.

South Brisbane craft beer crawl: West End - South Brisbane, South Bank

As Brisbane’s spiritual home of everything artisanal and local, it was only a matter of time before the brewers joined the party. In a few short years, Archive Beer Boutique went from the suburb’s only option to one of many. Let’s celebrate that change the best way we know how, by sampling what they’ve brewed up.

Archive Beer Boutique

Where better to start a beer crawl than the place where it all began? “Brisbane’s Original Craft Beer Bar” was a lonely figure on the scene when it first started tapping kegs in 2010. But now, not only is the city crawling with fancy brewpubs and bars, there are two more options within about 100m of the giant lager library. With 22 rotating taps and 400+ bottles in the fridge, we won't even try to make a recommendation. Leave that to the passionate folk behind the bar. Hundreds pack into the large space, with pool tables and often live music on busy nights, another reason to kick off here before it gets too busy.

Brisbane Brewing Co.

Brisbane Brewing Co.

In this ABC of ales, B stands for Brisbane Brewing Co, one of the first to introduce Brisbane to the now-thriving concept of a brewery and bar all wrapped into one. BBC has a long and convoluted history dating back in various forms to the mid-2000s but the West End edition was crowned in 2015. You’ll find 10 taps pouring beautiful brews - from fruit beer through to barley wine and even a cheeky cider - tucked away down a laneway with spacious inside and outdoor options. Plus, some guy who REALLY likes chicken parmigiana decided this place had the best in the whole city. He ate one a week for a year and documented the findings so we’re inclined to trust him. On Tuesdays, the BBC team discounts its usually quite expensive breaded chicken dishes to “Parmy like it's $19.99."

The Catchment Brewing Co.

Catchment

They haven’t been pouring for as long as Brisbane’s more-established breweries but the folks at Catchment have done a great job putting together a beautiful venue to sip on some suds. Dreamed up by four friends, the Boundary Street brewery opened in late 2015 in the restored 150 Boundary Street building, which its logo is mirrored after. You’ll find three core beers on tap, plus a seasonal release – all best enjoyed from the tiny top floor balconies.

Ballistic Brewing Co.

This brewery from suburban Salisbury has made it into the big smoke, taking over the old Pour Choices gastro-pub venue on Montague Rd. The original offering was the brainchild of two former rugby mates (dreamed up somewhere between Sydney bars and a nude swim) and brought to fruition with the help of a Gage Roads Brewing Company alum. The stuff coming out of the taps is a delicious meeting of minds somewhere between the “crusty old fart” boss’s desires and the whims of the young adventurous brewer.

Saccharomyces Beer Cafe

You’re going to have to walk more than a few dozen metres for this one, sorry. It’s time to explore South Brisbane’s vibrant Fish Lane, where you’ll find this boozy beer cafe skirting the side of the laneway. The endeavour celebrates all things beer, from the yeasty fungi it took its name from, to the regularly changing 10 glorious taps of frothies from all over Australia (and even the odd one from across the ditch). The beer-hall-inspired joint is moody and welcoming in all the right ways, with tasty beer snacks, burgers, pizza and arcade games. Keep an eye out for trivia nights, comedy and special events.

Bonus: Add in Tippler’s Tap’s South Bank venue at the start or end of your journey. The Sunday tasting paddle is always a good choice if you’re adventurous but Rib Wednesdays and Taco Tuesdays are also enticing options.

West Brisbane craft beer crawl: Milton - Paddington

The craft beer hordes are fast surrounding the castle on the hill. Every time you look there are more and more places near the home of the glorious Milton mango where you can swig a saison, imbibe an IPA or down a dunkel.

 

The Scratch

The first crafty upstart to invade the XXXX suburb, The Scratch is still delivering on its simple but effective motto: damn good drinking. You’ll find nine types of glorious liquid from different brewers all over the country. They specifically promise to switch things up regularly to push you out of your comfort zone and into a whole new zone of lager love. Looking for a feed? The world (well, Park Road at least) is your oyster, because the guys behind the bar let you bring in your own tucker.

Aether Brewing

Aether Brewing

Aether is another in what you could probably call the second new wave of Brisbane brewpubs, opening its doors in 2016, less than 200m from our first stop. After countless “test batches”, the former FIFO workers behind every bloke’s pipe dream built a big two-storey venue, even including a function room, with great beers and food to match. Don’t miss the stout crammed full of rum and North Queensland vanilla notes, or whatever interesting seasonal brew they happen to be pouring.

Newstead Brewing Co.

Don’t let the name fool you, this mega second venue from the eponymous brewery is in Milton, sandwiched between the XXXX behemoth and Suncorp Stadium. As well as being a ludicrously perfect spot to warm up or wind down from the footy, the bigger brewing space has helped the team massively increase its beer output and the numbers are staggering: 32 taps, 80 cans per minute, 1.4 million litres of beer per year. But you’re here for quality, not quantity. Grab a glass, order some food and enjoy.

Brewski

Brewski

The Germans have a 500-year-old rule governing beer purity (Reinheitsgebot). Stick with me here. Back when Brisbane hosted G20, German Chancellor Angela Merkel popped into Brewski for a bevvie or two, and a ton of selfies. Therefore, this Brisbane bar is basically endorsed by all of Germany, the country so famous for beer it legislated it*, for being bloody good. And we’re endorsing it too. A stone’s throw from Suncorp Stadium, it’s another great spot to drop in before a game, so long as you jag some space early on. *We know Reinheitsgebot really isn’t that great for craft brewing but it’s the spirit of the thing that’s important.

Bonus round

Not so much a trail as a rough mish-mash of bonus venues you definitely shouldn’t miss if you’re in the area. Some are a little further out so you might want a nominated driver or to check the transport schedule.

All Inn Brewing Co.

Great pun. Great atmosphere. Seriously great beer. You’ve probably tried one of the Banyo brand’s core range on another tap around Brisbane and there are more where that came from. Open since 2012, All Inn was and still is truly one of the standard bearers in the city’s craft scene, but unfortunately just a touch too far to include in our northside list. You’ll often find live music, food trucks and a handful of dogs (bierhunds?) patrons have brought down to enjoy the vibe.

Slipstream Brewing Co.

We hope you’re a fan of basketball because these guys have hops and they’re not afraid to use them. The Yeerongpilly mob only opened up as a bar in June 2017 but was showing off nine varieties of beer by the time the one-year anniversary came around. As mentioned, the team there loves hops so you’ll find a tonne of IPAs, along with a rye ale and a pilsner. A range of food trucks feed the hungry masses. It’s next to the train station so leave the car at home.

White Lies

Another trip ever-so-slightly off the beaten track. You’ll find this crew knocking out a range of eight beers in the Sumner headquarters on Saturday and Sunday afternoons, and Friday until late. As well as the usual suspects, they cook up a Russian stout and a peach kettle sour.

Netherworld

Netherworld

An easy addition to the north Brisbane trail, we were tempted to include this one on the main list. In the end, we decided although it has an excellent craft beer range from around the country, the venue is more about the insane selection of arcade and video games than the craft beer. Plus, it can get pretty busy already so they might not appreciate us telling you to head there after working your way through five other venues already.

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