The Embassy Bar in Brisbane has a long history. Back in the 80s it was one of those inner-city hotels frequented by public servants in short-sleeved business shirts, shorts and knee length socks enjoying a XXXX at times that most would still consider 'business hours'. They rubbed shoulders with the sort of old cove with a form guide in his back pocket, sitting in the window extracting the last possible hit of nicotine from an Ardath and making the passing office girls uncomfortable with a lecherous ogle.
It had been gradually shedding this image over the past decade before 2013 when brothers Demetri and Alex Conias, scions of the long-standing owners, stripped back the layers of panelling from innumerable renovations and relaunched it as the Brisbane CBD's only dedicated craft beer bar.
The makeover ' or, more accurately, strip back ' has left it with a classy modern industrial aesthetic of exposed and stressed brick, galvanised piping lighting installations, interesting art posters and a very extensive craft beer list.
With 16 taps, featuring the highlights of Lion's craft range and a bank of seven rotating independents, plus a handpump, and more than 100 domestic and imported craft beers, there is something for everyone.
Demetri Conias says the Embassy's location played a big part in its approach.
'Being located in the heart of the CBD we have a big corporate market surrounding us. We designed the bar to be warm, comfortable and relaxed so that men and women of all ages can enjoy it,â? he says.
'We have labelled ourselves as a craft beer bar so that consumers know they can expect a variety and interesting and delicious beers. We think that 'craft' is really just a label that people seek out if they are looking for more than the run of the mill lager.
'We are hoping that in five years' time the term 'craft beer' evolves to just 'beer' and that consumers consideration set includes a lot of what we have on tap and in the fridges.â?
It's a well-spoken notion. The Embassy gives life to it by having a laid-back and non-judgemental approach to good beer. It is a good selection for a bar that straddles the beer geek / inner-city craft beer newbie divide, welcoming both with open arms.
Food is modern American-inspired, sometimes labelled these days as 'dude food', though this description is rapidly becoming passé judging by the mixed clientele enjoying both the food and the flavoursome beers. The menu features plenty of share platters and finger plates perfect for sharing over a beer, and more hardy options for those with a bigger hunger to satisfy.
The Embassy lifts it above being merely pub grub with hatted chef Rob Campbell's clever interpretations of the style. There are gluten-free and vegan options as well and Rob has a smokehouse where he smokes his own meats making the sliders unique and highly regarded.
The food is shown off at monthly beer and food matching dinners that let the kitchen show off its creative side and the dedicated events team create unique one-off events catered specially to the private and corporate customer.
The open sweep-through plan of the bar still manages to create three distinct rooms, creating spaces that can be used for functions or just dining, bar and more relaxed sit down bar areas and lend a casual ambience to the venue and make The Embassy a highlight for Brisbane's inner city beer drinker. *[Matt K](http://twitter.com/goodbeermatt)*