It’s fairly common among Australia’s craft brewers to discover that their inspiration to start brewing followed a trip to the UK. And it seems such inspiration isn’t confined to brewers alone, as it was the years spent there that led Bitter Suite founder Braden Saunders and his English wife Katherine to open their pub in Brisbane’s New Farm area with the intention of creating the kind of local that Braden had grown to love in England and Katherine had sorely missed since moving to Australia.
After taking over a café in a heritage-listed, red brick corner building, he and wife Katherine undertook a rapid transformation of the venue; in just four long days, what was once Coco Bella became Bitter Suite, filled with eclectic second hand furniture of the like found in British pubs. The four taps – which have now been expanded to seven with a hand pump – began pouring craft beer and Braden had the beginnings of his local in one of Brisbane’s leafy suburbs.
For a local to become a local, it needs punters – in particular regulars – and it didn’t take long for them to come. An ever-changing lineup of well-priced draft beers backed up by a good bottle list, plus a venue that combines an open front bar, refined dining area with dark wood-framed cabinets, and plenty of covered outdoor seating soon saw to that.
There are themed Bitter Baron beer appreciation nights that are often run by the punters and sell out well in advance, as well as regular beer dinners and “national days”, such as Bitter Suite’s celebration of all things Mexican for Cinco de Mayo. The food is highly rated too, making it little surprise that Braden reckons 70 per cent of customers are locals returning again and again.
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