Wynnum – a suburb in Brisbane’s bayside – is home to many good things, none of which have historically involved quality beer. For many, the suburb is best known as a place for quiet, relaxed pastimes spent on Moreton Bay, or for its glittering foreshore, packed on the weekends with people devouring parcels of fish and chips in the afternoon sun.
But now, a mere stone’s throw from the bay, nestled in the industrial heart of Wynnum is Hudson Brewing: an equally relaxed, unpretentious hub for beer lovers.
Since opening its doors in December 2020, the brewery – the first for the area – has quickly endeared itself with the locals of the close-knit community who have, as it turns out, a rapacious thirst for quality beer.
Be it heavily-hopped, dark, barrel-aged or sour, Wynnum’s love for beer has come as a surprise to many – not least the owners of Hudson Brewing itself, Richard and Sarah Hudson. After varied careers that took them across Australia – and, in Richard’s case, two decades of homebrewing – the couple turned the oft-considered dream of opening a brewery into a reality.
And, yet, the process of opening Hudson Brewing wasn’t always a smooth one. When the couple’s original plans to open shop in the inner-city Brisbane suburb of Woolloongabba fell through, their search for a new location led them to their own backyard of Wynnum, where they had lived for more than ten years.
However, for Richard and Sarah, the clientele pouring in through the doors looked very different to what they had initially expected. Instead of a youthful crowd with an already established appreciation for craft beer, the couple found themselves pouring beers for a crowd that was predominantly older and less acquainted with the styles of beer being made at the brewery.
Unsure initially of this unexpected clientele’s tastes, Richard initially played it safe and, in his words, “underhopped” the beers. This decision was quickly reversed, and the hop levels escalated rapidly to meet the expanding tastes of his customers.
The beers at Hudson Brewing do include the unpretentious and accessible: like the locally cherished, German-style Fort Lytton Lager and the pale ale named after the couple's beloved cattle dog, Mr Magoo. However, sours, porters and a barrel-aged imperial stout are now in regular rotation to meet the ever-widening tastes of their customers.
Indeed, at Hudson Brewing, the community is firmly at the centre of what drives the beers that are brewed, with its drinkers ultimately deciding what makes the cut. Each and every new pilot beer is put through a tasting panel comprised of customers – new and regular – selected by the brewery, who meet in the evening to taste and give feedback.
While certainly loved by the locals, Hudson Brewing have earned their share of recognition wider afield in the form of medals and awards, taking out the new best new brewery at the Royal Queensland Food & Wine Beer Awards in 2021, and finishing in the top three in the running for Champion Queensland Brewery at the 2023 Indies – up against some damn fine competition. Their beers too – notably the mid-strength hazy and porter – have won numerous gold medals at Australian beer awards.
The brewery’s location, in a converted warehouse a few streets back from the bay, is a fitting spot too. Inside, it’s relaxed, homely and rammed with locals drinking beers and sitting almost amid the brewery’s steel fermenters. For any non-beer drinkers there’s a small selection of locally-produced wines, and, for the gluten-free crowd, Richard brews a popular ginger beer.
While the brewery doesn’t have a kitchen, food trucks are parked outside most nights with vendors serving up everything from burgers and chips to Kenyan cuisine. The brewery is a hub too for other forms of entertainment, with comedians and live music regularly on rotation.
Beers are canned onsite and stocked in selected local bottleshops and restaurants – although Richard and Sarah are keen to keep the brewery’s footprint small.
At its core, however, Hudson Brewing is about its community: from the welcoming space and selection of beers down to the 1970s and 1980s Australian rock pumping out from the couple’s speakers in the brewery any time you drop by.