A sandbar is a submerged or partially exposed ridge of sand or sediment, which is known to drift and change shape with time. You could say similar things about the evolution of the longstanding Surfer’s Sandbar on the Gold Coast Esplanade. No longer hidden away in full sight, Surfer’s Sandbar, now shortened to just The Sandbar, is a craft beer bar that has 20 taps and more than a 100 different brews on offer in total.
With an unrivalled view of the famous Surfer’s Paradise beach, it’s a natural watering hole for the many tourists that flock to the Gold Coast’s shores. Since first opening in the late 1990s, it’s a venue that has garnered a reputation for a relaxed and welcoming beachside atmosphere with matching service, all just a few strides in your boardshorts from the water’s edge.
Since new management took over in 2014, and thanks to a full renovation completed in December 2016, the outside façade and sitting area has been completely overhauled to give The Sandbar a more Southern Californian feel. To compliment this, a culinary change in the kitchen Sees them serve up gastronomic delights from the Cali-Baja food scene using fresh local produce that entices locals and tourists alike.
Of most interest to Crafty Pint readers, however, will be the change that has taken place on the beer side. With an emphasis on local Australian breweries, The Sandbar offers an extensive core range of beers from the likes of Stone & Wood, Burleigh Brewing, Balter, Black Hops, Green Beacon and Newstead. The Sandbar’s General Manager, Andrew Eggins, has been the driving force behind this change and enjoys a unique relationship with each of the three local Gold Coast breweries. As a result, The Sandbar is often the only place on the coast to find new release local brews as well as limited releases, particularly those from Burleigh Brewing’s pilot brewing system.
Yet, while it’s clear that Australian beer is the focus at Surfers Sandbar, there is also a sizeable collection of US beer available. With four taps dedicated solely to American craft, keep a look out for freshly imported beers from US breweries such as AleSmith Brewing, Deschutes, and Stone Brewing.
Then there are tasting paddles to encourage people to work their way along the taps, events featuring guest brewers plus themed tap takeovers – certainly, the ingredients are there to keep any discerning beer drinker happy. Right in the heart of Surfer’s, lest we forget…
The more typical trappings of a beachside bar are there too, including live music on Sundays, occasional happy hours and a deal on wings on Fridays: buy any beer and you get wings at a dollar a pop. As for those wings, this scribe is happy to declare them amazing, the result, we’re told, of “extensive experimentation”.
It’s not too long ago that anyone looking for beer in Surfer’s would have struggled to find anything other than the oversized big brand lager decals – maybe interspersed with the odd English ale or American lager – staring back at them. With bars like The Sandbar not so much dipping their toes in craftier waters as riding the crest of the wave, the recent change is as welcome as it was once unthinkable.
Now, when your day at the beach is done and you’re ready to gaze back over the surf in the late arvo sunshine, you needn’t just relax with a cool beer – it can be a damn tasty one too.