Unless you've been living on a remote island free from any form of outside communication, you'll be well aware the craft beer revolution has not so much descended on the north of Brisbane as started to devour it whole.
The northern suburbs and the recently-named City of Moreton Bay play host to a vast array of breweries, bars and bottleshops, which is perhaps not that surprising given the Moreton Bay Local Government Area is one of the fastest growing in the country and local business owners have taken notice.
The northern suburbs beer scene possesses an intensity too; up here, the dedicated bar owners who run the craftier establishments are members of a club dedicated to providing quality sustenance to the masses. These are their stories.
Stop One: Brendale Brewing Company
Brendale has thrown its name up as the beating heart of craft beer of North Brisbane. Now hosting not one, but three craft breweries, this small industrial suburb has a growing reputation, but we can’t forget what started it all: the OG, Brendale Brewing Company.
To meet Ryan and Elsie McCausland, the husband-and-wife team behind the brewery, and enjoy their wares, you only need to follow the stream of workers clocking off looking for a refreshing afternoon drink and you'll find a unique neighbourhood experience where locals come to meet. A large assortment of beers brewed in-house, from the aptly named South Pine Pale Ale and Linkfield Lager (both named after neighbouring streets) to a heavily-hopped double IPA, the popular Industrial Haze and the gold medal-awarded Cryo Genesis IPA.
The range at Brendale is fairly large for a small-scale brewery – up to 12 rotating taps and one cider – so there's always something different to enjoy, while the brewery also offers locally-sourced wine, ginger beer, vodka and gin.
For Ryan and Elsie, they see their popularity as being driven by what they offer their community.
“We’re just a tiny little brewery in an industrial area, but people keep coming back," Elsie says. "We try to remember our customers' names and just be friendly. You can bring your family and children to play some pool or board games and we don’t see alcohol as something to get wasted on, but to enjoy in a relaxed environment.”
You'll find Brendale Brewing Company at 2/62 Kremzow Road, Brendale
Stop Two: Tannins Brew
Joining Brendale Brewing in this neck of the woods is Tannins Brew. A small batch nanobrewery, coffee and smoked meat specialist perched next to Bunnings and Snowy Outdoors, they promise succulent slow-cooked meats, Cavalier roasted coffee, and an ever-rotating selection of beers.
Husband and wife team Dave (formerly of the Samford Hotel) and Preena Johansen are locals in the area and know what the public want. Dave has been honing his craft for years now and is always experimenting with a variety of flavours. His vanilla plum sour and popular New Zealand pilsner now stables at Tannins.
“We wanted to create a warm, friendly, welcoming vibe, not just a brew shed," Preena says. "We are a family-owned business, and we treat our staff and our customers as such while creating that experience for anyone that walks in that door."
Dave and Preena bring more than 20 years of experience with them and already have plans to grow their brand, with some of their beers appearing at bars and bottleshops elsewhere in the city.
Tannins Brew is located at 23 Doherty Street, Brendale
Stop Three: EclecTea
Pronounced "Eee-clec-Tee" this tapas bar and restaurant is located in the breezy suburb of Brighton, just a hop, skip and jump from the Sandgate beachfront. Enjoy the smell of the ocean as you sip on an ice cold, locally-made craft beer in this trendy suburban hideaway. Owner Kara Rigg runs the bar and brings her own eclectic mix to the neighbourhood thanks to the extensive food menu featuring a mix of delectable treats, including a large range of vegetarian options.
“We wanted to create a space where people can come and relax and a place where I wanted to be,” Kara explains.
EclecTea features a wide range of Australian craft beer, including a permanent tap from their local friends at All Inn Brewing. The supporting cast is an impressive cocktail list and Australian wine and spirits. EclecTea has built a strong sense of community thanks to their dog-friendly approach and sessions with local musicians – live music on Fridays, book club, open mic nights and paint-and-sip events.
Enjoy the taps and tapas by heading to 2 Queens Parade, Brighton.
Stop Four: Scarborough Harbour Brewing Co
Perched on the marina with breathtaking views of the harbour with which it shares a name, this addition to the Brisbane brewing scene must be seen to be believed. From Scarborough Harbour's open air, nautical-themed bistro upstairs to the engine room downstairs that resembles a rustic sailor’s man cave, this place doesn’t resemble your average brewery.
Opened on Easter Weekend 2022, locals have been flocking to the marina to sample the latest releases, dine in the ocean-inspired restaurant, and drink in the incredible view.
The idea was spawned during a trip to Canada by owners Sonia and Guy Schweitzer, on which they were impressed by the sheer volume of craft venues.
“We wanted to bring that experience home to the Peninsula,” Sonya told The Crafty Pint.
Since launching, their tap range has grown and continued to change, while those beers can be enjoyed pretty much any way you'd like them, from tasting paddles in the bar to growlers you can take home – but you won't find many better places to sink a cold one.
That said, if beer isn’t your thing, Scarborough Harbour offer a comprehensive wine and spirits list that pairs well with their menu as you enjoy some fish tacos or a winter-warming cob loaf while watching the boats come in.
Scarborough Harbour Brewing Co is located at 21 Bird O’ Passage Parade, Scarborough, and is open Wednesday to Sunday.
Stop Five: Hip Hops Brewing
Completing the Brendale trio of craft breweries, Hip Hops Brewers hit the ground running after opening in 2023 with their blend of food, drink, and art. Hip Hops features more than 20 taps with their beers joined by wines from Ocean View Estates and gin from Copper and Cane; for the designated drivers, there's iced tea from Pinnacle Brews, fermented sodas (Bin Juice) from Ibis Brewing company, and mixers from Long Rays.
Owner Shaun Reeves, the moustachioed Hip Hops man himself, along with a team of entrepreneurs have built a place of belonging for the region. Hip Hops, with its huge tap list and tasty Aussie-style tapas made from local produce, also provides live music and entertainment.
The team features experienced brewers from the area. At time of writing, Jarrett Bravo, former senior brewer at Newstead Brewing Co and more recently Happy Valley Brewing Company, was working with Moreton Bay stalwart Adam Gibb from White Brick Brewing, whose beers also feature on the taps.
You can find Hip Hops at The Sheds at Brendale, 264 South Pine Road
Stop Six: The Fugitive Ferret
The Fugitive Ferret, tucked away in suburban North Lakes, is a unique entry to the northern 'burbs bar scene. Owner Scott wanted a venue that was a little quirky, hence the name: ferrets are an unusual pet and illegal to own in Queensland.
This pub-style eatery offers a host of indie craft beer options across six rotating taps combined with a variety of tasty food that keeps the locals content; there's an even larger can selection in the fridge.
“I would describe us as an eclectic bistro, providing inexpensive food with French, Asian and South American influences, paired with locally-sourced beer,” is how Scott puts it.
Their wide range of tartes flambée (French and German-style pizza) continually changes with fresh and seasonal produce, while the space itself is an intimate environment built for conversation.
Find the Fugitive Ferret at Shop 6 1/3 College St, North Lakes
Stop Seven: Harry Brown Liquor – Eatons Hill
Aside from the growing collection of venues, there's a clutch of bottleshops bringing the good stuff to the north. Among them is Harry Brown Liquor, based at the Eatons Hill Hotel (which hosts an annual beer festival), where the owners keep an eye on trends in the beer world to make sure their large fridges are full of crafty deliciousness.
The rise of Harry Brown has coincided with the rise in breweries on the Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast and Brisbane, and those locals feature heavily, whether it's brand new operations or the region's pioneers.
Harry Brown Liquor is located at the Eatons Hill Hotel, 646 South Pine Road, Eatons Hill
There are plenty more venues in Brisbane’s north and Moreton Bay to explore. So, if you're still after more, the following locations will do you right:
- Cardigan Bar – Sandgate: A small, intimate bar that has built a solid reputation over the years for showcasing Brisbane’s local musicians and now has added one of the best selections of craft beer on the city's northside.
- Which Craft – Albany Creek: There’s a lot to like about this bar. But the main attraction is the wall of 30 beer taps (pictured above). The owners are constantly on the lookout for the latest beers from around Australia.
- Thirsty Chiefs Brewing Company – North Lakes: A suburban brewery in North Lakes that hosts an impressive live music lineup. They feature a large selection of beer, while you're also able to come in and brew your own beer with help from the Thirsty Chiefs crew.
- Mr Henderson – Sandgate: Now a Sandgate stable, Mr Henderson is a chic neighbourhood drinking hole in the main shopping area of Sandgate. The bar is named after the original owner, Bob Henderson, who was a bootmaker. If you keep an eye out, you may spot some relics of his on the walls.
- Bottlemart – Margate: An example of just what can happen when a passionate venue manager gets bitten by the beer bug, the Margate arm of Bottlemart (which also offers a decent beer selection at its Full Moon, Sandgate, and Boondal stores) has been a welcome boon for beer lovers in Brisbane's north.