It was only five years ago that Black Hops and Balter opened their Gold Coast breweries. Just five years. Prior to that, Burleigh Brewing had been the lone warriors flying the flag for craft beer in the region for more than a decade. Now take a look at the place – you can barely move without tripping over another brewpub or craft beer venue...
At the very tail end of 2020, Precinct Brewing joined the party. Tucked away in the suburb of Miami, make your way past the brightly decorated exterior and you'll find a pumping venue, helmed by former Stone & Wood brewer Jeremy James.
He was brought in at the ground floor, back when Precinct was little more than a loose concept in the head of Scott Imlach, whose hospitality many will have enjoyed on the Gold Coast at venues such as Bine Beer Bar, one of the area's first to celebrate indie brewers. Scott, along with business partner Simon Tunbridge, builder Michael Craighead, business specialist Tom Welch, came together with Jeremy to get the ball rolling.
“It was about two-and-a-half years of talking and consulting before Precinct actually opened its doors,” Jeremy says. “There was a lot of planning, a lot of working with council to get all of our permits, and on top of that a global pandemic, which really slowed things down.”
Despite taking slightly longer than expected to concept to become reality, Precinct opened its doors in December and the team hasn't looked back since, combining experienced front of house staff, beer-friendly food ranging from shared plates to gourmet pizzas and hearty meals, and new beers every week.
For the head brewer, while he admits to initial nerves about leaving a giant of the brewing industry for a startup, Jeremy says he’s been amazed at how things have turned out since the doors opened.
“It was exciting and terrifying at the same time,” he says about leaving Stone & Wood. “They are such a great organisation. I just had to trust I could take everything I learnt there and make things work here, and that’s been exactly the case.
“It’s been amazing seeing it go from a construction site to a brewpub packed with people. Every day, we’re seeing new people come through the door – it’s just amazing to see all these people loving our beers.”
We invited them to tell us more as part of our long-running Who Brews...? series.
Who are you?
There’s five even split partners involved with Precinct. Scott Imlach and Simone Tunbridge – local hospitality legends who own and run a bunch of great venues, including Bine. Michael Craighead – a commercial builder who partners with the above two on a few projects and is the one who made the venue look so incredible and functional from a shell of a building, which was an old panel beating shop. Loves a beer.
Tom Welch – one of my best mates since school. He’s an accountant and business development specialist whose tenaciousness got this project over the line. His office is real close to Precinct so he also helps with tastings.
And me – Brewer, ex Stone & Wood, and enviro consulting a lifetime ago before that.
Where do you brew?
We are based in Miami. Granddad Jack’s Distillery are our neighbours over the back fence, and Black Hops HQ is only a few hundred metres walk away, so it’s a happening and crafty little area.
Why do you brew?
To keep the taps flowing cause Miami is thiiiirrsty!! Haha, but really it is sort of a culmination of the passion of each of the partners, and you can really see each of our influences and specialties molded together into making the whole project work.
Being able to sit in here with friends, family and the wider community to enjoy and remark about the beers I’ve brewed – plus our guest taps – and the food coming from the kitchen is a special thing for sure.
Was there a beer or a moment that set you on the path to becoming a brewer?
I’ve been homebrewing for an age now, so the thirst was always there, but probably the thing that really made me want to get into the industry was just how supportive and friendly the people in it always were/are.
I remember meeting Dan, Eddie and Govs at Brumalia festival many years back, before Black Hops was really even a thing, and seeing them build BH from the ground up was incredible! I’m pretty sure I remember chatting to Smokey and Luke (of Currumbin Valley Brewing) way back at that same festival a year later, and all of us chatting dreams about opening breweries, and here we all are!
To be fair, though, memories from those Brumalia days are pretty hazy so could have been another time haha…
What’s the inspiration behind the brewery name?
It was something that took us a long time of pitching back and forth, sitting around a meeting table, to come up with as we needed the name to represent what we wanted to build here in Miami. Ultimately, Precinct was pretty spot on as we’ve built a welcoming, open plan brewpub that is hopefully inviting to everyone in the community around us that support us each week.
What beer in your lineup best represents you and why?
Rolling on from the above answer, it’d have to be our humble lager. Simply because it’s a clean, easy-drinking, super pale lager that helps us gateway so many people that walk through the doors onto bolder beers. Not everyone that walks into a brewpub these days is a beer nerd, so we really like having a welcoming beer in that sense.
In saying that, our new one, Baby Hazy, is pretty indicative as well – we do a lot of session strength beers that you can sit around sipping in the taproom, enjoy a few of, and enjoy the good company and music!
If anyone drops in on brew day, what are they most likely to hear blasting from the speakers?
We’ve got a great sound system in house, which came out of a gym, if memory serves, and with quite a few staff on hand it changes up pretty regularly. Come the busy hours, there’ll be heaps of 80s/90s classics and party anthems – live acoustic music on weekends also.
During brew days, it’ll be more low key and chill coastal stuff like Beach Fossils or Black Keys – anything like that has a good chance of being on at the moment.
What beers are in your fridge right now?
In the brewery, freshly canned Precinct Lager, a Tropical Stout and the 4 percent ABV Baby Hazy. At home, I’ve been slack and the fridge is overflowing – pretty sure there’s a Felons imperial stout at the front so that’ll have to go first!
Which local beers have blown your mind in recent weeks?
The first one that springs to mind is Ballistics SWYD Black IPA – that thing is tasting on point! Even more locally, the lads up in the valley – Currumbin Valley, that is – have just released a bunch more beers, and I’m loving the Lazy Hazy.
Where can people find your beers?
At the moment, pretty much everything is sold in-house, but our online store has just gone live so people can jump on and get a few tins there.
Precinct is largely about the in-house experience though – the tasting room with its epic new food menu, including 4pm to 6pm Happy Hour weekdays: $5 glasses of beer of the week and 50 cent chicken wings.
Where do you hope your brewery will be ten years from now?
Hopefully, still right here in Miami as we got super lucky with such a great location, but maybe with a few other satellite mini-Precincts around the traps too!
You can check out what Jeremy's been brewing at 17 Christine Avenue, Miami, and find out more at the brewery's website. You'll also find them and hundreds of other breweries and good beer venues across Australia in the free Crafty Pint app.