For most Brisbanites, Milton used to be a place they only ever passed through en route to somewhere else, the only memorable landmark a large, creepy man in a hat constantly winking down at them. The inner-city warehouse district was more like the Platform 9 3/4 for lovers of ball sports (rather than Hogwarts) to get to their sacred Lang Park, rather than a destination in itself.
As for Caxton Street, that was more-or-less the meeting destination for those either celebrating or commiserating the actions of sweaty sports people.
As we noted back when we first created this Crawl in 2017, the times they were a-changin’. Venue and brewery owners flooded in, filling the home of XXXX with quality beer; fast forward to 2021 the area is now a well-established hub and must-visit destination for those looking for good beers, good bars, good food and good times.
All of which makes it fertile ground for an updated Crafty Crawl! So, get yourself on a train and head to Milton station – you won't want to drive for this one.
Stop 1: The Scratch
Stepping into The Scratch feels like visiting a pal who possesses effortlessly kitsch style and way better taste than you do. Before you even have time to be bamboozled by the tap and bottled beer lists you’re beguiled by mural covered walls, speckled with local artist's works and the odd horned animal skull, seconds before being accosted by a shark head jumping out of the roof.
When you finally pull yourself back to reality, you’ll be pleased to find a selection of undeniably grouse beers from Australia and beyond. To say the person doing the ordering is a giant beer lover let loose in the proverbial candy shop is a pretty good way to explain it. But "fucking maniac" is equally apt, if not better.
The Scratch Bar was one of the first dedicated craft beer bars in Brisbane, kicking open its doors for the first time in 2012. The team (read: family) don’t just bring killa sips to lips, by way of draught and bottles, they throw some mad hatter parties to boot. Case in point: the annual Weekend of Darkness one of the insane events beer lovers flock to like seagulls onto stray chips.
This pint-sized venue frequently reaches capacity for its big events, so get in early or you’ll be waiting in line like a pleb until some poor sod leaves and gifts you their place. If you've spent time in Brisbane and haven’t visited, you might need your head read.
Luckily (or maybe unluckily…) for that noggin of yours, this bar is just stop one on the Milton Crawl. (JC)
You’ll find these good folks at 8/1 Park Road, Milton.
Stop 2: Mongrel
From Scratch, walk across the road to Mongrel, which opened in 2018. Given it started life as a pop-up restaurant, the team behind Mongrel know their food – and their beers. The space has a sort of 70s or 80s den-slash-hangout space vibe: couches and a pool table inside, and plenty more seating out on the verandah.
Six taps of craft beer call your name from the bar, while the tap list can be found scrawled on the skateboard decks – sans wheels – that adorn the wall. A great selection of packaged beer can be found in the fridges, while wines, spirits and cocktails round out the drink offerings.
If you’re hungry, you’re in for a treat, with a menu showcasing Peruvian flavours and, on Thursdays, Mongrel’s non-traditional but incredibly delicious Tantanmen or vegan mushroom ramen. The star of the menu, however, might just be their ceviche, available Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until sold out. Get amongst it if you can!
As for the name? Well, they’re “a little bit scruffy, a little bit street, a little bit of a mix of things and very loveable”. Just like the beloved bitsa dog your family had when you were ten. (JM)
You’ll find Mongrel at 1/12 Park Road, Milton.
Stop 3: Milton Common
In 2019, the co-founders of Aether Brewing went their separate ways. Following the split, Jimmy Young stayed put, transforming the Aether's OG home into Milton Common and, in 2020, launching Common Ground Brewing.
As much a community-focused space as it is a brewery and brewpub, Milton Common hosts a wide variety of events to give interest groups a home, and just maybe help you learn something new or find a new hobby. On any given night you might come across anything from beer yoga to Lego to a lesson on how to macrame.
The venue is spread across two levels, and in addition to their Common Ground beers you’ll find guest taps, wines, cocktails and local spirits on the menu. There’s also an art gallery and function space, which continues the community theme by giving local artists the opportunity to showcase their work, and providing space for the community to hold events.
If you’re sitting downstairs, you’ll be drinking in some of the closest proximity to brewing operations you’ll find in Brisbane – the Milton Common team can pour beer direct from their brite tanks. And if all that closeness to beer brings on a hunger, you’ll find a full menu of burgers, pizzas and share plates with which to fill up. (JM)
You'll find Milton Common at 35 Railway Terrace, Milton.
Stop 4: Newstead Brewing, Milton
Milstead – we overheard it at the brewery, so it has to be true – is the epitome of Brisbane’s thriving good beer scene. This mega brewery and pub sits on Castlemaine Street, under the watchful eye of the aforementioned permanently-winking man-in-a-hat, and directly across from Suncorp Stadium. As such, it’s a haven for good beer drinkers and sports fans alike.
The second of Newstead's venues features no less than 32 taps across three bars: a mix of Newstead classics, small batches, collaborations and guest beers. There's a kitchen so you can snack, feast and gorge yourself silly. The open plan design has Brisbane’s sweltering summer in mind so, whether you plonk yourself inside or out, you’ll be in reach of a breeze.
The 50 hectolitre system is on display for brewers and beer nerds to admire, while there's an on-site laboratory of impressive proportions; this is no microscope surrounded by a few beakers but a fully fledged science lab in which their resident scientists can go hog wild. Speaking of wild, in 2017 they began funding a PhD student to work with Brisbane's local yeasts with the intention of using them in future beers, one of which was used in Newstead’s GABS 2019 beer. (JC)
Newstead Brewing Co Milton is located at 67 Castlemaine Street, Milton.
Stop 5: Brewski
Husband and wife duo Matt Emmerson and Antoinette Pollock first flicked on their distinctive IPA light that hangs above the bar back in 2013. Since then, Matt has become known among the Brisbane beer community as a bit of a shopaholic: a mad man with a bar to fill with his ever beery dream.
Brewski frequently pours weird and wacky brews from all over the world. And they don’t stop at just one keg, no sirree. Brewski are known for mad as hell tap takeovers that have brought Brissie folks mouth-to-glass with the rarest of releases – and almost always more than one keg at a time – as well as epic sessions focused solely on the hoppiest or stoutiest beers they can get their hands on.
Don’t be fooled, though, Brewski doesn't just go for the exotic imports. These guys and gals are all over the Aussie beer scene like a bad smell, or maybe a bar with a wealth of great options.
Sometimes overshadowed, but never forgotten, is the holy grail of dude food that makes up their menu. This menu has carnivores, omnivores and herbivores drooling – yes, they’ve got one hell of a vegan menu, and it’s the tits. Their weekday specials will keep your wallet happy, especially if you're a Crafty Cabalista and can take advantage of their two-for-one schooners on arrival – every day.
In 2018, they extended the upper level of the venue at the rear and opened bottleshop-plus My Beer Dealer downstairs, which will be our next stop.
So, next time you’re strolling down Caxton Street, no matter what brought you there, look out for the open planned bar with footpath seating and a humble round sign. Or, just Maps: "22 Caxton St". (JC)
Stop 6: My Beer Dealer
From inside Brewski, walk downstairs to My Beer Dealer, or enter directly via Judge Street. The drink-in bottleshop – Brisbane’s first, when it opened in late 2018 after a significant renovation – occupies a cosy and well-used space, packing in a mouth-watering array of craft beer everywhere you look.
The store differentiates itself with a thoughtfully curated selection of international beers that sit alongside local SE Queensland favourites and beers from around Australia. The packaged craft beer options, all available as singles, are joined by ten taps, six of which are shared with Brewski upstairs, while four are unique to My Beer Dealer. You can get growler fills from the taps, which influences the tap selection as they are often beers unavailable in packaged form.
There’s a bonus of the conjoined upstairs/downstairs locations, too: you can buy a beer here and drink it upstairs at Brewski if you’re in for a meal or if there’s no space to sit at My Beer Dealer. And, like Brewski, My Beer Dealer hosts great events, from tap takeovers to featured tastings and even hosting podcasts.
Along with craft beer, which includes non-alcoholic options, you’ll find a selection of natural wines and craft spirits for sale. There’s a small range of merch so you can stock up for Beer Swag Day, and a range of quality pickles, meats, cheeses and crackers allowing you to put together a charcuterie board to munch on later when the hungries hit. If you’re after more beer and food options, though, head on through to stop 7. (JM)
You’ll find My Beer Dealer at 22a Caxton Street, downstairs from Brewski.
Stop 7: Fritzenberger
Fritzenberger opened on the corner of Petrie Terrace and Caxton Street in late 2016. The team behind on-trend crowd pleasers Harajuku Gyoza and Nitrogenie saw potential in the venue that previously housed party and karaoke institution Casablanca for 23 years.
The multi-storey space meant there was plenty of room to squeeze in a SmartBrew automated system. Here, wort brewed off-site is brought in to be fermented and dry-hopped before making its way into guests' glasses. Accompanying their own brews is a rotating guest tap list.
Now, if you're thinking the name is a reference to German inspiration, perhaps that of a wolf-hunting hefe warrior, we have to let you down. Fritzenburger is more a play on words: "frites", or fries, and burgers. Thus, you'll find fries and the almighty seasoning star, salt, elevated to their true place on the table: smack bang in the middle and served up with housemade pickles and an unbelievable variety of spiced salts. (JC)
You’ll find Fritzenberger at 52 Petrie Terrace.
Something different: Lefty’s Music Hall
At home inside a heritage-listed building, Lefty’s is such a Brisbane that when it closed abruptly in November 2019 the new management promptly reopened it in three months later with much the same decor, the same love for live music, and the same quirky, quasi-Americana vibe.
You’ll find bands rocking those American-influenced sounds every weekend to get you jiving all over the dancefloor before you have time to order another whapple. For the uninitiated, that’s the signature drink: a shot of whiskey and fresh apple juice. Just… maybe don’t call it a whapple. It isn’t exactly the official name. Even if some of us think it should be.
While Lefty's focus is mainly on slinging whiskeys and cocktails, you’ll also find a selection of craft beers to keep your tastebuds happy at this former brothel.
What's more, you might find another playground open upstairs: the Mermaid Bar, complete with ridiculously impressive model ship, giant plastic sea creatures overhead and a mean line in rum.
You can’t miss the Lefty's lights from anywhere on the street, but if you need a ride home – and you will – drop the pin at 15 Caxton Street.
You might also like:
- Warehouse 25, 25 Finchley St, Milton – Warehouse 25 once housed underground raves, and is now part distillery, part restaurant, part bar where you can still get your groove on as they haven’t forgotten the venue’s musical or creative roots. The tap offering is small, but you’ll find some local gems on the can list.
- Cribb St Social, 1/19-23 Little Cribb St, Milton – Brought to you by the owners of Mr Edwards in the CBD, this café and bar offers good eats and craft beers thanks to their partnership with Mountain Goat, whose beers sit alongside other craft offerings.
- The Malecón Bar, 1/47 Castlemaine St, Paddington – Milton’s very own Cuban rum bar and home to the Milton Rum Distillery, they also have a small selection of local craft beer to sip while you enjoy their live music nights.
- Hope & Anchor, 267 Given St, Paddington – Brought to you by the folks behind Lefty's, Hope & Anchor is a classic English pub with a modern twist centred around gastronomy style pub grub and great booze.
- Reuben’s Deli & Bar, 1/208 Given Tce, Paddington – Serving up authentic New York deli sandwiches and dishes inspired by NY eateries, Reuben’s also has a great lineup of Australian craft beer so you can wash down all that deliciousness with some hoppy goodness.
- Craft Red Hill, 196 Musgrave Rd, Red Hill – Dedicated to bringing top notch craft beer, wine and spirits from Australia and the world to the people of Brisbane, complete with two rotating kegs waiting to fill your growlers and squealers.
You can check out other Crafty Crawls from around the country here and find all the above venues and hundreds more, plus beers, events, special deals and more in the free Crafty Pint app. If there's any glaring omissions, or new operations on the horizon, let us know!
This updated Crawl was put together by Jakkii, but there are still some entries from the original author, Julia Charalambous, with each indicated by their initials.