The suburb now called Stafford used to be called Happy Valley, which is simply a delightful name for a suburb. It seems a shame that Sir Thomas Brisbane changed the name to reference his time in the Staffordshire Regiment.
But if there was ever a time for the name Happy Valley to return, it was when a craft brewery moved into the area with punchy IPAs, interesting European styles, and flavoursome session beers. And Cheyne Meehan, the brewery’s owner, was the person to bring the happiness.
“I’m always happy!”
Opening a brewery was an obvious move for Cheyne. He’d already built a mini-brewery at home, complete with cold room and direct pour taps in his outdoor entertainment area, and was running through 100 litres of beer every few weeks with all the friends he’d invite over. But the pimped-out homebrew setup didn’t sate Cheyne’s passion for beer; it only served to stoke it further. So, undeterred by pandemic- and council-related obstacles, he opened the doors of Happy Valley Brewing Company in 2020.
It’s impossible to wipe the smile off Cheyne’s face. Even when grasshoppers ravaged the hop bines he was growing at home, Cheyne didn’t just see a pest: he saw another creature that loved hops, which is how the grasshopper became the Happy Valley logo. Now the little critter adorns brewery signs, glasses and merch. There’s even a giant wooden grasshopper hanging from the ceiling of the taproom; as long as you're not orthopterophobic, it’s a fun statement piece.
But then there’s a lot of fun going on in this brewery. The main bar is full of bright and cheery green walls and a graffiti mural saying YOUR HAPPY PLACE. The front room, painted sky blue and nicknamed Cloudland, is the place to rest your beer on a 44-gallon drum while you check out the current exhibition of local artwork. The balcony up the back is called The Paddock, and may be the only place you can sit on a Chesterfield lounge surrounded by astroturf and a white picket fence while overlooking a brewery. Any of these spaces can be booked for functions, but most of the time they’re just available for general merriment.
Beyond the decor, there’s plenty to make you happy: Trivia Thursdays, Tie Dye Fridays (with drink specials for anyone wearing the groovy tie dye Happy Valley merch), live music on Sundays, and there’s always a free lollipop available for the kids. Of course, there’s also beer available for the adults, along with a tidy selection of wines and spirits by Queensland makers… but unlike the lollipops, you have to pay for these.
Sixteen beer taps pour a range styles, with the intention that there’s always something for everyone: lagers, IPAs and sours; pales, reds and darks; easy-drinking lower ABV beers and heavy flavour bangers. The size of the brewhouse and number of fermenting tanks make for an agile operation, so there are fresh new beers coming on all the time. If you’re finding it hard to choose a flavour, a five-beer tasting paddle will get you started. And you can always take some beers away with you, too; if you’re lucky, you can snag some of the extravagant beers that have been aged in whisky or wine barrels.
In the way of food to go with your brews, there’s a menu including low ’n’ slow, BBQ wings, Dagwood dawgs and bratwurst, but it’s the classic cheeseburger that’s most popular with punters: the kitchen sells $30,000 worth of them every year. If you want to see what all the fuss is about, just order at the bar then pick up your food from the Happy Valley Tuckshop across the road.
This brewery may have an unassuming brick frontage in an industrial side street, but the welcoming vibes and friendly staff make Happy Valley feel like home. We all know you can't buy happiness by the pint, but when you visit Happy Valley, you find your happy place.