Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley can be a difficult place to define. It’s seedy and upscale, derelict and architectural. It’s mystery meat doner kebab and Nordic degustation. Churches, nightclubs. Theatres, tattoo shops. A place with a grimy, dark past and a shiny future.
Naturally, the Valley – as everyone calls it – is as complex as the people who visit and live there. The thing that binds the place together is that almost everyone is there for a good time, safe in the knowledge that whatever freakish behaviour they sign up to, there’s usually someone doing something more extreme, more left-of-centre.
It’s absolutely no surprise at all then that a brewery like Valley Hops calls the Valley home. Opened in 2021 by the same hospitality group that runs many of the Valley’s institutions and nightclubs, the brewery pays homage to and is itself one of the Valley’s characters.
Let’s start by acknowledging the fact that Valley Hops and its 15hL brewhouse are located on the sixth floor and rooftop of the Cloudland nightclub building. It is probably the only brewery in Australia where tonnes of grain and other brewing supplies are hoisted from the street into the brewhouse via a purpose-built crane. The construction of the brewery itself required several new floors to be added to the existing building. There must have been an easier option – but this is the Valley after all.
While there are other breweries located in the Valley and absolutely no shortage of places to get a drink, the team behind Valley Hops are hoping to make the brewery and venue feel like they’re part of the furniture of the area. They’d like the brewery to be known as the Valley’s own – a place that not only welcomes but outwardly embraces the Valley’s diversity.
The beers, brewed by Josh Warren (ex-Green Beacon), are all inspired by and celebrate the area and its mix of characters. A lively passionfruit and mango sour is dedicated to the fizz and pop of the annual Valley Fiesta. An American pale ale celebrates a legendary 21-pub bar crawl/fun run, and the house lager is named after the local rugby league club – and its marauding boofheads – Valley Diehards.
Beers are brewed onsite – a feat that never ceases to be impressive – in the aforementioned 15hL brewhouse. A pilot kit keeps things interesting and opens up possibilities for new and experimental brews to meet and push the boundaries of drinkers’ tastes.
There’s food on offer too: wood-fired pizzas, skewers grilled over charcoals, and a host of other morsels, including a Queensland pineapple fritter.
The venue itself is sun-washed and combines contemporary timber, glass and concrete into something relaxed and welcoming. A sculptural pizza oven made from a mass of concrete, an arbor with greenery, and an enormous wrought-iron and led light panel behind the bar add to the elements that make Valley Hops another intriguing feature for the area.
Right up on the rooftop on Anne Street, you’re both in the frenetic energy of the Valley and also quite separate from it. There’s plenty of space to enjoy a drink and a quiet conversation if that’s what you’re after. And you're only a stumble – or should that be hop – away from the Brunswick Street Mall if you’re after something rather louder.