Folks, this edition of our Crafty Crawls series is an easy sell. One of the easiest, some would argue. West End has long been a destination for Brisbane craft beer drinkers, ever since Archive Beer Boutique opened its doors in 2011. Now? Well, there’s never been a better time to descend upon the south side of the river. The beautifully brown, shark-filled, absolutely toxic river that snakes through the most perfect city on Earth: Brisbane*.
Additionally, the walk from venue to venue is crazy short. Like, we’re talking 15 minutes MAX between two of the venues and the rest, heck, a few minutes? We’ve got you covered from breakfast til dinner, or lunch til dinner, or dinner til second dinner depending on your own personal schedules, daily requirements and preferences. Do what you like, we’re not your mum.
Stop One: Hoo Ha Bar
The folk at Hoo Ha are serious about their beers. For their Tasmanian tap takeover in 2016, Lauren travelled down to the Apple Isle and picked up each keg from every brewery in person, like a freaking legend. Their attention to detail and devotion to maintaining a solid relationship with others in the industry is not only represented by that example but reflected in the daily life of the bar itself.
Exposed brick underneath a high asymmetric ceiling greets you, good coffee warms you, great food fills you up. With a delicious breakfast menu, satisfying snacks and a killer burger selection, this is a great starting point. Eight taps means you’ve got plenty of choice for your breakfast beer, which is arguably the greatest form of beer, perhaps challenged only by the infamous shower beer. Shower beer means nudity (good) but breakfast beer means haloumi (also good). It’s a tough one.
Where were we? That’s right, kick things off at Hoo Ha, which you'll find in Tribune Street, South Brisbane.
Stop Two: Tippler's Tap
Tippler's Tap is a god damn institution. Its move from Newstead to South Bank in 2015, while undertaken with heavy hearts and many a sad salute to the smail-like OG location, was made easier by most of the original furnishings finding a place in its new home across the river. Vlad the Taxidermied Pigeon, the undeniable mascot and protector of the venue, watches over you as you messily (there is no way to consume diner-style food in a clean manner, unless you’re a Conehead from the inextricably bad 1993 eponymous film, a film only made watchable due thanks to the presence of half the cast of Seinfeld) inhale a Reuben and contemplate which of the 13 taps you’re going to descend upon next.
Tippler's Tap has invested an enormous amount of effort into the continuation and growth of craft beer culture over the years, sure, but the staff's undying love for and commitment to ribs and wings has truly been the most invaluable asset to the carnivores of this pristine city. Get your fill at 5/182 Grey Street, Southbank.
Stop Three: Saccharomyces
Not only can we all say and spell Saccharomyces properly now thanks to these legends, we also have a cheeky laneway hidey-hole on this side of the river. Flanked by apartment blocks, Saccharomyces is particularly well hidden, existing roughly in the centre of the narrow, one way street that is Fish Lane.
With ten taps of craft and comforting eats along the lines of burgers, toasties, snacks and S’MORES (delicious, feels-like-camping-without-camping, biscuity, marshmallow-y, chocolatey goodness) pop in for a pint and a feed. Be sure to also flex your flipper fingers to tackle one of the three pinball machines that proudly stand opposite the bar, it’s good for your health.
Stop Four: Archive Beer Boutique
The birth of craft beer in Brisbane has a lots of people to thank, certainly, but Archive Beer Boutique has played an integral role in the rise of damn good beer in South East Queensland. They’ve been around as long as time itself (it feels like) and alongside live music and the chance to whack your mates in the shins with a pool cue for cheating on the table, they provide West End with a banging bottleshop AND growler refills. There’s hundreds of brews to choose from, which is phenomenal but also a personal hell if you’re indecisive or time poor.
The introduction of a new food menu has also spawned a new wave of degustations and matching events that makes use of sheer volume of beer they stock there, while marking a movement away from traditionally heavy pub feeds that have a tendency to bloat you up like a hot air balloon (the appropriate metaphor if you’re reading this to a child for some reason) or a week old corpse in the Brissy river (if you want to Keep Shit Real). Not that pub food is bad, on the contrary it is heavenly, but, hoo boy, does it affect our fragile bodies.
Stop Five: The Burrow
Stroll out the back door of Archive and across the street and you’re literally at The Burrow. After the sorrowful farewell of their Mollison Street house (RIP) last year, they put on their hard hats (they probably didn’t wear hard hats) and began renovations on the Russell Street venue. Next door to the infamous Rumpus Room, they are, in a way, just as much a staple of West End culture as their party-loving neighbours.
Six rotating taps and and a cracking bottle list complements a pizza menu that straight up dominates. With vego, vegan, meat eaters and gluten free folk accounted for, everyone’s sorted. There’s even a pizza called the Meat Storm which, if you’re so inclined, looks set to blissfully blow your arteries to shreds. You’ll die, yes, but you’ll die doing what you love. Everyone’s gotta go somehow.
Stop Six: Brisbane Brewing Co
Very much like that of The Burrow, Brisbane Brewing Co encapsulates the heart and soul of West End and imbibes the comforting atmosphere of the local’s local. After operating for years in Albion the venue, a subsidiary (or brewery baby, if you will) of Brewhouse Brisbane in Woolloongabba, was reopened in 2014 in the heart of the suburb along Boundary Street. With brewers Brendan and Simeon at the reigns of the 10 hectolitre system, Brisbane Brewing Co has been producing more wild and wonderful single batch releases than any other Brisbane brewery, save perhaps the efforts of the dang hunks over at Newstead Brewing Co.
With that in mind, the drive of the brewers to create variation across the taps with constant single keg and small batch releases, collaborations and wonderfully silly ideas that (thanks to a valuable creativity that conservatives would probably label “reckless abandonment”) results in a lineup of ever-changing, seriously delicious brews. Good beer definitely has a home at Brisbane Brewing Co.
Stop Seven: Catchment Brewing Co
Considering it's the most recent of venues in this crawl, Catchment Brewing Co has made up for lost time pretty swiftly since opening in late 2015. With the bar and upstairs dining areas looking over Boundary Street and the beer garden centred around the brewery itself, there’s plenty to look at. Don’t deny that people watching isn’t intrinsically satisfying: humans are weird looking creatures, period.
Becoming the second brewery on Boundary Street has only encouraged more foot traffic between venues and increased the demand for locally brewed beers. Excellent, we say. The beer community can breathe easier (literally) knowing that there are so many options for a thirsty traveller in this neck of the woods.
Stop Eight: Bosc
Despite being open since 2014, it has become apparent to The Crafty Pint that some people weren’t aware that the name of the venue is an acronym! Not an issue, of course, but this is something we can help clear up. Bosc stands for Bar of Social Conscience, and it is with this in mind that owner Emily ensures her business is doing as much as possible to support individuals, causes and organisations that need a helping hand.
What does this mean for you? This means that even if your wallet is plotting your murder (it just loves killin’!), or your liver is cursing you to the Ninth Circle of Dante’s Inferno (the joke's on your liver – that lake is perfect for chilling brews), your heart is warm with the gift of giving.
While specialising in gin and serving up some mean cocktails, Bosc boasts 12 rotating taps and is no stranger to a tap takeover, collaboration or new release launch, or the inevitable shenanigans that a meet the brewer event brings with it. They also happen to be the only venue on this crawl that is BYO food, so don’t be the dingus that sadly sifts soggy potato gems out of their shorts, be the champion that does an Indian Kitchen run and wins over the love of Emily’s adorable dog Louis with a sneaky snippet of naan.
Bosc, which you find just a short wander up Vulture Street, is somewhat the end of the line for the official crawl, but there’s an array of other fantastic venues listed below to visit in between, or to save for another day. Hell, eight venues is probably pushing it so don’t be afraid to approach this endeavour in two sessions (you’re going to have a blast regardless).
Despite the excitement above, drinking in moderation comes first and foremost; we can’t deny our country has some genuinely fucked up ideas when it comes to the consumption of alcohol. Plus, destroying your palate with 300 pints of that super dank IIPA before dinner when there’s so many great beers to try will only do you (and your Untappd account) a massive disservice. Beer is good but staying alive is heaps better.
Advice aside, go forth, descend upon West End!
- The End Bar – Vulture Street, West End
- The Charming Squire – Grey Street, South Brisbane
- Wandering Cooks – Fish Lane, South Brisbane
- The Bearded Lady – Boundary Street, West End
- Brisbane Brewhouse (albeit slightly out of the way) – Woolloongabba
*According to this dingus / garbage bin, at least.