Since opening their doors in November 2015, the Catchment Brewing crew have been growing into the eclectic, artistic and historic landscape that makes up West End.
West End is a patchwork of character and colour: a blend of cultures and a haven for non-mainstream lifestyles, long known as an area that celebrates diversity and creativity. There’s even diversity in beer there in more recent times, with three breweries (plus another brewery taproom) calling West End home.
As the site of one of Brisbane’s first breweries, it’s also an area drenched in history. Catchment wants to continue the legacy of the long defunct West End Brewery, which prided itself on being “The People’s Brewery”. A newspaper article from 1896 said that “a light, refreshing, and mildly stimulating beverage is the order of the day”, and Catchment’s approachable core range fits that description today. The Whynot Lager, Pale Select, Hoogley Session Ale - and yes, even the Vulture IPA - are all designed to be supremely drinkable, which makes them ideal for long sessions spent gazing out at West End as the afternoon sun fades. (There’s also sweet stout called Cow Tipper that isn’t core, but is brewed often to keep the regular customers happy.)
It’s worth taking a moment here to note how rare it is to find a brewery on the high street in the inner city, as opposed to tucked away in an industrial area. Rather than a “Build it and they will come” approach, Catchment has always been more in the mindset of, “I want to be where the people are.” Or to stop quoting movies and instead look to the brewery’s tagline: “By locals. For locals. Everywhere.” Catchment is right on Boundary Street, the deeply lined but lively face of West End, and the brewery offers a welcoming façade to the myriad people walking past; when you see people drinking in the front window or dining at picnic tables on the footpath, it’s hard not to pop in for a beer.
The high foot traffic and proximity to the CBD means this isn’t a Thursday-to-Sunday-evening brewpub. Catchment is open seven days a week for beers and food, making it a drawcard for all kinds of people: on a weekday lunchtime you might see the corporate crowd having a work lunch, then a couple of hours later the tradies are enjoying knock-off drinks; Saturday nights see groups of young friends with staying power, while Sunday afternoons are perfect for young parents and older couples looking for a slower session. The suit-and-ties, the high vis vests, the ripped jeans and the linen shirts… all find a place at Catchment.
With such a diverse bunch coming in, it makes sense that has a number of spaces in the venue. You can usually find a quiet nook or spot with some buzz, depending on what you’re after.
The front bar – or Boundary Bar, as it’s called – has the familiar feel of a thriving West End joint. That eclectic vibe is present, but a couple of fermenters behind the bar remind punters that Catchment is an operational brewery serving up freshly made beer. This is the area perfect for mingling and people-watching, and keeping one eye on the bar and kitchen as you ponder your next order.
If it’s the full brewery experience you’ve come for, pass through to the back to find Brewery Lane, the indoor-outdoor space that feels like a hidden laneway. This is the source of the beer, the centre of fun, and the heart of Catchment. Here you’ll find a row of stainless steel tanks glinting with the reflection of party lights, hanging plants soaking up the thrum of live music, and a street art style wall mural. Very West End. Very brewery.
Upstairs is Hidden Windows, the heritage-rich secondary bar that works as a function space. A pleasant sense of seclusion makes it right for all kinds of events, from gatherings of friends to corporate functions to wedding receptions. With one exposed brick wall, one wall covered with barrel lids, and terraced balconies looking out over the streetscape – yes, and some hidden windows – this room lets you enjoy your own private piece of West End, past and present.
For all these different options, the beer is still obviously the focus at Catchment and takes pride of place at the bar. At any given point there are four limited releases pouring from the taps alongside the easy drinking core range (though there’s also wine, spirits and cocktails for those after something other than a pint).
The food menu is all designed to be enjoyed alongside beer, too. There are some burgers and mains available, but if you’re sinking schooners with mates the share plates are the way to go. Order a few dishes for the table - something salty, something greasy, something spicy - and dig in. The menu changes up seasonally and is always diverse, so don’t be surprised if you see Japanese-, Mexican-, and Middle-Eastern-influenced plates all rubbing shoulders (with a few gluten free and vegan options in there). You may notice that beer has crept into a couple of the items on the menu.
In late 2021, the owners of Catchment Brewing added Darling & Co to their portfolio, so the Paddington bar now serves up the full range of Catchment beers alongside the bubbles and cocktails it’s always been known for. And in 2022, Mount Tamborine’s Fortitude Brewing joined the family too, so expect to see some Fortitude and Noisy Minor beers available at Catchment (and vice versa). You’ll find them on tap sometimes, and as part of the offering in the takeaway fridge - grab yourself a 4-pack of Catchment and a 4-pack of Fortitude on your way out the door, and you’re laughing.
It’s hard to escape beer at Catchment. But with the hundred-year-legacy of West End Brewery in the air, and fresh beer bubbling away in the tanks… why would you want to?