There’s no denying Black Hops is a Gold Coast brewery: the sunshine and surf and laid back culture of the Coast are in every sip of Black Hops beer.
But, when founders Dan, Eddie and Govs launched Black Hops in 2014, it wasn’t at the Gold Coast – it was in a bar in Brisbane, and they’ve had a soft spot for the River City ever since. Between the founders’ love of Brisbane and the hordes of loyal BH fans who live there, there’s been incentive for a Black Hops hub in the capital since day one.
And an opportunity for said hub emerged in 2020 at 65 Manilla Street, East Brisbane.
The warehouse space began its brewery life in 2018 as Semi-Pro Brewing, but in 2020 the BH team joined forces with their industry mates from Semi-Pro, acquiring the brand and transforming the brewery into one of their own. The Semi-Pro crew remained, the taproom underwent a quick refurb, and a few short weeks later the roller doors opened up again; Black Hops Brisbane was born.
In some ways, not a whole lot has changed. The brewery continues to pump out delicious beer; Mick Guy of Semi-Pro even stayed on as the site head brewer. The taproom has always been a relaxed, spacious neighbourhood bar where everyone is welcome. Today, within its new stylings, the local community still gives plenty of support to the brewery, with regulars feeling a sense of belonging and always chatting with the staff.
But Black Hops Brisbane is a place where you can get the full BH experience. It starts when you walk in and see the entire left wall painted with a topographical map of the Brisbane River (Black Hops II at Biggera Waters has a matching mural that shows the GC coastline); black paint acts as a foil to the vivid colours, natural timber slats and foliage scattered around the venue.
Taps line the wall behind the bar like pictures at an art gallery; peruse the exhibition of Black Hops beers at your leisure, or let one of the beertenders talk you through your options. From the crushable Send It to the stinging Super Hornet to the sweet, tart and spicy Tropic Like It’s Hot… and that’s before you even get to the handful of special releases waiting for you to try them.
The best seats in the house are up on the mezzanine level, where you can look out over the whole venue. Peer down on the takeaway fridges and wonder what you’ll be grabbing on your way out. Perv on the brewhouse, where special releases are made for all three BH taprooms and then some. The only downside to sitting on the mezzanine is that you can’t eye off all the BH gear on display in the merch corner.
BH Brisbane is just the spot to introduce your friends or family to Black Hops – after all, mateship has always been in the brand’s DNA. Cider, wine and artisanal spirits are available for anyone who doesn’t want beer, but of course the staff are happy to give tasters of different styles for everyone who’s keen to try something new.
But that doesn’t mean you’ll get a lecture if that’s not what you’re after.
The BH crew love to educate drinkers, but are also happy to leave you to it. You don’t have to know (or care) about beer styles. You don’t have to know the history or evolution of the space. You don’t need to have read the Black Hops blog, or read their book Operation Brewery, or listened to their podcast.
You can just bring a platter of food or get some delivered (or visit the occasional food truck), grab a round of drinks and start chatting. Think of it as your living room – just chock full of Black Hops beer.