CRAFT beer is all the rage and hip boutique breweries are bobbing up everywhere. During Ocean Road’s recent stay at the hip new TRYP Hotel in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley, featured in our winter issue, we visited a couple of these uber-cool watering holes close to our accommodation.
MICHAEL Conrad jokingly calls it ‘The Beermuda Triangle’. The Newstead Brewing boss is referring to a collection of cool new micro-breweries/craft beer bars in the Newstead/Teneriffe area, a short stroll from the TRYP hotel in The Valley (and a somewhat longer stumble back).
It would be very easy to go missing in ‘The Beermuda Triangle’ but the good folks from Brisbane Marketing did their best to keep the Ocean Road team on the straight and narrow, making sure we did not go missing by supplying us with a walking map.
First, we checked out Green Beacon Brewing Co. at Teneriffe.
Located in a warehouse-style building in Helen St, the brew pub is pumping on this sunny Saturday afternoon, filled with barflies who couldn’t give a XXXX about mainstream beer.
On a bar against the backdrop of big silver vats of golden goodness, Green Beacon manager Andrew Sydes lines up a selection of the brewery’s top drops to taste.
After sampling the core range – 3 Bolt Pale, Cross Knot Kolsch, Grappler IPL, Windjammer IPA, Mainstay Amber, Wayfarer USA and Penny Porter – we merrily make our way over to Newstead Brewing in Doggett St, Newstead, for yet more beer.
Like Green Beacon, Newstead Brewing is housed in a warehouse (a 1940s bus depot) and also has an industrial feel, with exposed steel roof trusses, drop lights and beer vats and kegs contrasting with warm timber floors and ceilings.
Beer-lover Conrad ran several of Brisbane’s best eateries, including Three Bistro in The Valley and Restaurant Two in the city, before opening Newstead Brewing in late 2013 with business partners Peter, Helen and Mark Howes.
Mark, who has a PhD in molecular bioscience, is Newstead’s head brewer.
“He’s using his science for good instead of evil,’’ Conrad says of Howes, responsible for such quirkilynamed craft brews as Out & a bout Pale Ale and 3 Quarter Time Session Ale.
We sample some of Howes’ honourable handiwork from a ‘beer paddle’ – a timber tray of tasting glasses that showcase some of Newstead’s best brews. The consensus? Sensational! Never mind the paddle, direct us to the beer creek!
With Conrad’s background in fine dining, the brewery also boasts great food to wash down with all that beer.
The Green Beacon, Newstead Brewing and nearby craft brew bar Tippler’s Tap are just a few of the many watering holes and dining venues within easy walking distance of TRYP.
At Brisbane Marketing’s recommendation, Ocean Road also savoured a sumptuous modern Asian banquet in the lively Kwan Brothers restaurant in Alfred St, The Valley.
Inspired by the hawker markets of Singapore, the night markets of Hong Kong, the izakayas of Tokyo and the street carts of Bangkok, Kwan Brothers is a sister restaurant to the fashionable Alfred & Constance hotel, Alfredo’s Pizzeria and Chester Street Bakery.
We shared a selection of delicious Asian tasting plates, the feast accompanied by the intoxicating ‘Missionary’s Damnation’ – a fiery chilli vodka concoction from Kwan Brothers’ innovative cocktail list.
Our TRYP weekend also took in a long, lazy lunch at Tinderbox Kitchen in trendy James St precinct, The Valley.
Owned by the very hospitable restaurateur/chef PJ McMillan, who also has the neighbouring Harveys Bar + Bistro, Tinderbox focuses on fresh, local produce from quality food suppliers in modern, minimalist surrounds.
Manager Kath Wilmott suggests a shared selection from the menu and we happily concur.
Our tastebuds are duly tantalised with dishes including house specialties the potato gnocchi with pork cheese Bolognese, porcini and aromatic herbs; wood-roasted corn with heirloom tomatoes and nduja; seared cuttlefish with chilli and sweet onion dressing, and the signature Tinderbox wood-fired pizza with Mooloolaba prawns, chilli, zucchini, fior di latte, basil and cherry tomato.
Lunch is accompanied by Green Beacon Cross Knot Kolsch beers and a magnificent Craggy Range Sauvignon Blanc from NZ’s Marlborough region.
We finish with a decadent dessert of Honeycomb moelleux with blackberry sorbet and peanut crumble, and espressos.
TRYP is also a few minutes walk from Chinatown, the Tivoli and Fortitude Valley train station, not to mention all the Valley’s vibrant clubs, pubs and boutiques.