Another question I’m always asked, “Where do I go for tracking down the latest and greatest in the world of craft?”
Originally I was hoping to have released my top 5 suburban treasures but unfortunately due to ill health, timing and procrastinating like a third year uni student it will have to wait another week or two. Some of these are independently owned while others are owned by major chains but have very passionate staff that have pushed upper management to have a level of freedom and seek market differentiation through quality over price.
A great thing about these small shops is the people behind the counter are either very passionate individuals with really great knowledge or they are new to the world of craft and on a steep learning curve. This all means that generally they’re more than happy to have a chat about beer, what they enjoy and what you should try depending on what you prefer. If you take time to ask a few questions it might save you buying that fancy label for $20 that ends up getting poured down the sink because, it’s either no good or it’s not suited to your taste based on where you are on your journey.
I say journey like you’re on a hit reality tv show, you know, “it’s not about the beer it’s about the journey”. This has certainly been true for me in moving through the craft world. If you had given me a 10% oatmeal stout 2 years ago I would have pushed through it with a smile on my face. Now I love a great stout, add some chocolate and chili notes and put me in front of an open fire for true happiness. But this discovery is only made possible by talking to the right people and getting recommendations on things to try.
My other love for these shops comes living a fair distance from the city in a location with no public transport which means I very seldom get the opportunity to go to beer events held at venues. This means a few drinks with friends at home over good food is how I have done my craft exploration.
So where to start
Cellarbrations Bowen Hills – this is by far my favorite shop currently and gets a fair donation of my weekly wage, luckily my wife doesn’t read my blog or if she does I will soon know about it. Phil is seriously passionate about good beer and goes to a fair effort to track down some very rare beer not only locally but also internationally. One whole wall is dedicated to craft beer with selections being divided by style. The highlight about this shop for me is the amount of international craft beer available and especially from Europe. Make sure you drop in and see Phil but be warned parking can be a bit hard around this spot and is metered, most spots you get the first 15 minutes free before you have to pay. I mention this because once your inside its kind of like a time tunnel where you loose all concept of space and time between checking the range and chatting to Phil there’s a fair chance 15 minutes may not be long enough.
Hawthorn & Greenslopes Cellars – can you guess where their located? The good folks here have probably been the ones most responsible for my tumbling down the rabbit hole in recent years. While there have been a few staff changes of late, it looks like the supply of quality beer is set to continue between the two locations. The two outlets specialise in providing the latest releases to hit the market along with a strong focus on Australian and New Zealand producers. The other great aspect of these two shops for me is the fact they do growler and squealer fills with 4 taps at each location. As I’m writing this I thought I would have a quick check to see what was available via http://www.nowtapped.com and it looks like I’ll be bringing a few empty growlers with me tomorrow and visiting both locations. If needed they sell squealer and growlers at reasonable prices so if your caught short you have no excuses.
The Wine Emporium – located at Gasworks Plaza in Newstead, and also opposite Newstead brewery, is this great little shop. As the name suggest they specialise in hard to find quality wines and this has spilled over into supplying quality craft beer at the same time. They may not have as big of a range as some other places but this is a great place to visit. There are a few reasons I like this place, it’s the first place I ever tried Pirate Life Beer and it’s the first place I found with a really good selection of New Zealand craft beers. It also has an amazing market opposite the store known as The Standard Market Company which has fresh produce, deli, butcher and bakery. Also the complex is home to some great places to eat so it’s a good spot to drop in for lunch and grab a few things including some amazing beer. Most of their range can be viewed on their website to give you an idea. http://www.thewineemporium.com.au
Beer Cartel – Sometimes I can’t even be bothered to get off the couch to get a beer, enter Beer Cartel, my favorite online beer shop. Actually I really enjoy couch surfing a craft beer shop and these guys do it really well, you can search by style, brewery, what’s new or staff recommendations. It’s nice to be able to look through a various style or brewery, look at all that’s available, read up on the beer and what other people think then add to your cart and have a running total on your spending. Now I am a big supporter of the local guy and don’t worry I spend my fair share at the above mentioned locations but there are advantages to buying from out of state. I have noticed that interstate shops have access to beers we just can’t get here in Qld both from small breweries in their area but also sometimes from international suppliers. For example I have noticed that NSW will often get a different selection of Garage Project beers compared with QLD. My other big plus for this service is when you travel, I may or may not have ordered a care package and sent it to the motel when away for work in remote areas. With delivery taking about 3 days and if the for-mentioned did happen, you’ll probably find a good motel owner is happy to open your package and get those beers chillin for your arrival. I may not go to Cloncurry regularly but when I do I don’t sacrifice my beer, yes beer wanker in full effect. http://www.beercartel.com.au
Dan Murphys – I know I know, not locally owned and owned by the same people that make up fake craft beer labels and mass produce it to fool you in to buying a mass produced product such as Sail & Anchor. With that being said there is no doubt that if your in a small country town or even 10km out of the Brisbane these guys are pretty much your best option and lets face it they have been supplying good craft beer for a while now. I remember fist trying Brewdogs Punk IPA from Dan’s about 3 years ago and now days you can easily find Sierra Nevada, Founders, Victory, Feral, Newstead, Mountain Goat and some places are now regularly stocking Garage Project, Rouge, Kaiju and more. While Dan’s might be my “I got caught short” option it’s not a bad option at all considering their everywhere and usually competitively priced. http://www.danmurphys.com.au
Since releasing this a few days ago I’ve been coping some flack for including Dan Murphys. That’s really cool as it means that people are actually reading my dribble and their passionate about their local suppliers that I didn’t mention. I’m not going to change my work as I stand by Dan’s as the best place to get craft beer if your 10ks or more out of the cbd but here are some other places you can try that do a great job. Craft (Red Hill), Hops & Vine (Hendra), Nextdoor Cellars (West End), Malt Traders (The Valley) and Grange Cellars (The Grange) and there’s more than that again. Thanks for the feedback folks, keep it coming, good or bad I don’t mind.
Right so now you have what breweries to visit and what bottle shops to spend your hard earned at, hopefully soon I will finish off a few of my secret suburban locations for barbecue and food.