Clare Evans is one of my best friends. For the last year and a quarter, she’s been exploring East Asia and Australia and making everyone she left behind in Blighty mighty jealous. In her first post for Wednesday Beers, she explores the microbrewing scene of Brisbane, Queensland – Rob
Brisbane. The Queensland capital with an enviably warm climate all year round (261 days of sun on average); surrounded by beaches, islands and exotic wildlife. What’s not to love?
Sunny Brisbane is the perfect place for a good few Aussie BBQs, which also means it’s a great place to enjoy a good few cold and refreshing beers… Or half pints if you’re as little as me. Though Brisbane is the 3rd largest city behind Sydney and Melbourne, it’s arguably Australia’s hippest, with a “flourishing microbrewery scene” according to Concrete Playground. So, being settled in the city for a week, I decided to get a taste of the craft beers on offer in some of Brisbane’s highly-rated and up and coming microbreweries.
Here’s my take on 3 of them, although given the standard I’ve experienced, I’ll definitely try to tick some of the others off my beer hitlist – one small half pint at a time.
Brisbane Brewing Co.
Brisbane Brewing Co. A.K.A hipster haven, is one of the top dogs in the microbrewery scene here. The company has been running for 12 years, although their microbrewery wasn’t crafted by the founding duo Grant and Michelle Clark until 2014. Nonetheless the bar is one of the more established in the city and it’s got a leading set up.
You enter the bar through an outdoor laneway and courtyard with lots of tables to sit at and enjoy a pint in the sun. There’s a pretty cool vibe when you get inside too, with the contemporary interior design and indoor foliage framing the bar. And there’s also a resident DJ. What I liked most though was that you can see the fermentation vessels set on the side in a cold room. These link up directly to the taps at the bar, so you’re really getting it as fresh as can be.
The BBCo bar had 10 taps for me to choose from, which included their staple range as well as seasonal brews and guest beers. You can also take away your favourites in growlers and riggers – win! As a craft beer tasting newbie, I asked the staff about their recommendations. I am however a regular pub-goer when I’m back in the UK, so I thought I’d start with their stouts:
Midnight – Foreign Extra Stout
The bartender suggested that I go for the Midnight stout, an export style with a tropical character to it. BBCo says their version blends in a soured portion to the stout to highlight its roasty malt flavours. It was definitely lively, rich and chocolatey which I loved.
Shot in the Dark (Nitro) Stout – Foreign / Export
With a nod of approval, the barman gave me a taster of another rich and roasty stout, Shot in the Dark. I learned what a “nitro” beer was here; nitrogen is used in the carbonation process and this gives it a creamier finish. This dark stout was infused with Bear Bones Specialty Coffee, which gave it a lingering milky, roasted espresso flavour – delicious!
Next I moved onto something a bit lighter, with their signature pale ale.
Brisbane Pale Ale
ABV 4.2% IBU 30
The Brisbane Pale Ale encompassed the bold tropical flavours that can be found in Queensland, so its name was quite fitting. My third taster of the day was sweeter than the stouts with passionfruit and citrus flavours that was balanced by the hops. Apparently whole hop flowers are used in this ale so that the hop undertones linger longer. I found it to be unusual and packing a whole ‘heap’ of flavour to use the Brisbane lingo, so continued with this one in a half-pint.
The Catchment Brewing Co.
The Catchment Brewing Co is a real newbie in the microbrewery scene here in Brisbane. Just down the road from Brisbane Brewing Co (luckily for me), The Catchment was formed 2015 by best buddy partners Allana and Chris, and Katie and Nick. Despite their recency to the scene though, they know their stuff.
On approach, The Catchment was much more my style. It had an art deco appeal to its joint and branding, and to me it felt more like an English pub. It was quieter and smaller than the BBCo and had a bit more of a homelier feel.
The Catchment had fresh brews available on tap, but as a smaller microbrewery they also offered a number of local and international beers as well. I asked the barman about what beer he’d recommend and he offered me some of their in-house Bright Ale and Pale Select, along with a taster from another local brewer. Here’s how it went:
4.4% ABV 14IBU
The Catchment is all about crafting fresh beer that they know their locals will love, so it’s no surprise that their summery Bright Ale nailed it. After the heavier stouts, this ale was very refreshing and had a great citrus, fruity flavour. Its crisp and easy finish made it a perfect choice for the hot day.
4.7% ABV 25IBU
Pale Select is a light to medium body ale that had a slightly punchier taste to it than the Bright Ale. It incorporated orange, lychee and resin flavours mixed with German and Australian malts. The result was a flavourful brew with a good balance that was still easy to drink on a sunny day.
Green Beacon: Uppercut Imperial IPA
ABV: 8.2% IBU: 95
Oh my. Velvety smooth and a beautiful combination of flavour – it’s a good job I only stuck with half-pints. This IPA wasn’t an in-house brew, but a number from local and international brewer Green Beacon Brewing Co. Uppercut used a blend of hops from the West Coast that makes it pretty boozey, but it still had a tropical sweetness to it. It was verrryyyy palatable…. Maybe too much.
From this first taste, I knew it was my mission to head to the source itself…To the Green Beacon Brewing Co!…
Next stop for Clare is New Zealand (I think), but hopefully not before she gets chance to make it over to the Green Beacon Brewing Co.