“In Greek mythology, Aether is the fifth element, which holds the universe together. Obviously… that’s beer.”
When Aether Brewing opened in 2016, it did so in one of Brisbane’s craft beer hubs: the inner suburb of Milton. It was next door to a busy train station, adjacent to a trendy dining precinct, and in walking distance of a sports stadium.
But as the above quote makes clear, good beer transcends space and time. So while Aether’s original location was the right place at the right time for the brewery to make its mark on the beer scene, it wasn’t the be-all-and-end-all. When the brewery’s owners decided to part ways in the beer world in 2019, Aether made the shift to its production facility in Northgate. This new command centre meant more space, more equipment, and more beer - a must for a brewery that had been overwhelmed by the huge demand for its beer from the day they opened.
As well as being a production brewery, the Northgate location - known as Aether HQ - includes a down-to-earth taproom where the people of the community come together. Aether had somehow managed to capture this feeling when they were in bustling Milton, but it’s magnified even further out in the suburbs. The staff know the locals by name - and know the dogs by name, for that matter - and treat them as friends. And that warm sense of belonging is something the locals have embraced. As Aether’s taproom manager put it: “For some, it’s something they always wanted to have. For others it’s something they didn’t know they wanted.”
It’s not just those who live in the area who frequent Aether HQ - the brewery remains on the train line, keeping it accessible to from the city and a couple of nearby suburban breweries. So it’s not surprising how visitors from all around come for the beer and stay for the vibe. As you step inside, you’re greeted by a green wall on one side and a scattering of wooden barrels serving as tables on the other. But it’s the bar straight ahead that grabs the attention: suspended lights in the shape of glowing hop cones hanging above the bar, barrels stacked on barrels cellaring beer overhead, and a wall of glossy white subway tiles showing the handwritten tap list.
Aether rocks a core range that moves from a midstrength New Zealand Pilsner and smashable lager, through the award-laden duo Pitstop Pale Ale and Hop, Skip & Jump IPA, to a black IPA and blackberry sour built for maximum impact - and a ginger beer to boot. If you noticed a few less common styles within that core range, don’t be surprised - Aether regularly eschews the common. The brewery was one of the early adopters of NEIPAs in Australia, one of the first to use hemp in beer (and a IIPA at that), and has released a double Irish red ale with bone marrow. The brewers at Aether don’t just think outside the box; they throw the box into the brew to see what’ll happen. Expect to see some weird and wacky flavours coming through in their special releases.
Once the friendly bartender has served up your beer in a funky tasting glass (ribbed for your drinking pleasure), you’re then free to wander further into the matte-black and stainless steel wonderland. Explore far enough and you’ll find the long tables nestled deep in the heart of the brewery, surrounded by towering brewing tanks on all sides, safe from the bustle and busyness of life outside the brewery. From here, you can appreciate the beer machine in all its glory - depending on when you’re there, you may see the brewers swinging off valves, or may simply get to appreciate the 3000L brewhouse at rest, the tanks like so many dormant metal giants.
While the brewery crew are focused on making beer full of love - and in constant pursuit of that elusive perfection - with Aether, it always comes back to people. “Beer’s only as good as the company you keep,” they say. When you rub shoulders with the Aether team, you’re guaranteed good people, but that’s obviously not the end of the experience. Take home a few 4-packs and taste the love with the people you love.