While there were plenty of restaurant and cafe openings in Brisbane this year, the city’s bar openings were a little slower off the mark. What we did see were existing venues turning themselves into pop-up booze shops offering unique small-batch wines, limited-edition beer and hard-to-get craft spirits. The latter part of the year, though saw a raft of new venues, from tiny wine bars to straight-shooting taprooms and an enormous eight-in-one venue in a heritage Valley hotel. Here are five worth checking out.
Lost Palms Sherwood
In November, the star Gold Coast craft brewer traveled up the Pacific Motorway to open in Sherwood. It’s the latest in a neat series of brewpubs and taprooms – Ballistic, All Inn, Slipstream, the list goes on – that are setting up in Brisbane’s outer suburbs. Owner Jarrod Blanning and the Lost Palms crew have given the old Sweet n Spice Asian Kitchen on Sherwood Road a liberal dash of its signature pink paint and installed a large concrete bar at the end of the venue. The bar is running 11 taps, with between seven and nine of them typically dedicated to Lost Palms’ popular brews, including its XPA, Gold Coast Bitter and 300 Days mid-strength ale. For food, there’s a straightforward burger and snack menu, with future plans to branch out into more experimental pub grub.
The team behind Julius Pizzeria and Beccofino opened their third venue, a tiny Italian-style spritz and wine bar, inside Aria Property Group’s brand new Town Square development in Fish Lane in November. Long-term Julius barman Stefan Angelovski joined as a co-owner; you’ll find him behind the bar serving a small, curated selection of aperitivi, spuntini and digestivi. There’s five different spritzes, five classic cocktails – such as a Negroni, Americano and Bellini – and five signature cocktails. Spuntini includes toasted salted pepitas and almonds, crostini with Cantabrian anchovies and tomato salsa, and house-baked focaccia. The approachable wine list is predominately Italian and includes five whites, two rosés and five reds. The slick fit-out is the work of Oliver Burscough from Woodsters. There’s a long white marble-top bar lit with sphere lights, lots of black paneling and dark-brown bar stools.
The Prince Consort
With eight different venues, 89 beer taps and capacity for over 2000 people, The Prince Consort is one of 2020’s most ambitious openings. Sydney-Based group Tilley & Wills Hotels had to undertake the renovation of the 132-year-old heritage-listed building remotely (they couldn’t get into Queensland with border restrictions). The gastropub is bright and spacious, featuring lots of white paint and different shades of green. The Naughty Corner is a semi-private booth inside the pub which can be booked separately and The Garden Bar out the back of the pub features lots of natural light, plants and pastels. The menu is based around a coal-fired rotisserie and woodfired pizza oven, and drinks feature a short wine list and range of cocktails. Other venues inside The Prince Consort include Cabos-inspired tequila and taco restaurant 400 Rabbits Cantina, luxe supper club and live-music venue La La Land, cocktail bar The Bowie Rooms, upstairs studios The Yorke Suites, and the pre-existing Greaser Bar.
Easy Times Brewing Co
After two years in development, Easy Times Brewing Co finally opened in Woolloongabba at the end of October. Owners David Ferguson and Anita Boettger teamed up with Ryan Lane of Proof BBQ & Booze, who’s turning out a menu of Kentucky-style barbeque from his giant smoker upstairs. Brisket and ribs are the specialty, but there’s also whole blackened fish and vegetarian options. The brewpub, which is housed in a 100-year-old refurbished former violin repair shop, blends old with new – throughout are polished ironbark hardwood floors, vintage incandescent light bulbs and television screens that showcase the 20 different beers on tap. The line-up at the time of opening includes the Rogue Dead Guy Ale, Big Shed Brewing’s Golden Stout Time and Killer Sprocket Shiny India Pale Ale. Soon, Easy Times will be pouring their own beers brewed on-site.
Honour Ave Cellars
Furmint, blaufränkisch, rkatsiteli, mtsvane. Honour Ave Cellars owner, Chris Siktars, wants to shine a light on these lesser-known Eastern European varieties. His tiny four-seat wine bar in Graceville contains a whopping 2500 bottles of mostly international wines. Almost 90 per cent of the wines are available by-the-glass, and everything can be decanted into a half-bottle carafe. Siktars has decided to keep the food menu straightforward. There are smaller dishes such as aged beef tartare and ceviche; freshly sliced cured meats (including Hungarian csabai sausage and salami); and a variety of cheeses. The tiny 28-square-metre space is lined with shelves stacked with wine bottles, and at the centre is a long mahogany table with communal seating. It’s dark and moody, making the venue feel like someone’s private cellar.