Hiker To Open Taproom At Former Black Hops Brisbane & Semi-Pro Site

June 18, 2024, by Mick Wust

Hiker To Open Taproom At Former Black Hops Brisbane & Semi-Pro Site

Less than 18 months after opening their Salisbury brewery, Hiker Brewing Co are to open a second location: a brewery and taproom in East Brisbane’s Manilla Street, in the space formerly occupied by Black Hops and, before that, Semi-Pro Brewing.

The news will come as a welcome surprise for Hiker’s fans, but is almost as much of a surprise for owners Phil Sharp and Daniel Venema.

“This wasn’t on our radar for anytime soon,” Daniel says. “We had the growth plan of extra venues rather than wholesale, but we were thinking year five we’d maybe look at another venue.

“But this popped up for lease almost three weeks back, and out of curiosity we just sent an enquiry to see how much it was going for, and it turned out that everything’s still in there. Literally everything.”

When Black Hops entered voluntary administration in March, a technicality with the lease of the East Brisbane venue meant they weren’t able to keep the taproom open; the Gold Coast-based operation then took to their socials to confirm the permanent closure in June after administrators sold the business to new owners.

The same technicality meant the furnishings and taproom fit-out weren’t part of the Black Hops sale. Instead, the contents of the Manilla Street venue were transferred to the owner of the building – and subsequently available as part of the lease arrangement to Hiker. It’s this feature that made the prospect of the new taproom so attractive to Daniel and Phil.

“The furniture’s there, bar, coldroom, takeaway fridges, heater, projector – complete fit-out already," Daniel says.

“We can walk in and start selling beer.”

Initially, the 100-seat taproom will look pretty much as it did under the previous owners

“Obviously, we’ll paint over the Black Hops mural,” Daniel says. “There are a few other things we want to chip away at, but we we can work on that when we’re open and making money.”

 

Hiker's Salisbury brewery and taproom.

 

With the opportunity to begin trading almost immediately – and without incurring the expenses that come with fitting out a venue and paying rent for months before opening – the Hiker team hope to be pouring their beers in East Brisbane by mid-July. They’ll be re-installing some brewing equipment for the production of special releases as brewing on site is a requirement for the venue’s artisan producer licence. However, most of the beer you'll sample there will still be brewed at their main brewery in Salisbury.

“We have a lot of people who want to try our beer but don’t want to trek out all the way to Salisbury,” Phil says. “You can’t get our beer in too many places, and that’s going to be even harder now.”

Harder because the opening of a second venue will see Hiker pull back from selling wholesale to other bars and bottleshops; even with their brewery running at maximum capacity, their beers will be available almost exclusively at the two venues.

Phil and Daniel are keen to use this opportunity to reach new drinkers, and want to ensure they’re catering to anyone the inner-city venue attracts, which may include a younger demographic and spectators from the nearby Gabba stadium on game days. So, while 12 of the 16 taps in the bar will be pouring Hiker beers, the remaining four will feature either guest beers or non-beer beverages.

As they put it: “See what the clientele in that area are looking for.”

The move also puts them in close proximity – the same street, in fact – as Future Magic Brewing. While there are no collaborations planned as yet, the Hiker guys have already chatted with Future Magic co-owner Sean Astill, who’s a friend.

“Sean’s excited about it,” Phil says. “To create that little hub again.”

 

In February 2023, Hiker opened their Salisbury brewery; in February 2024, they won Best New Brewery and Champion Brewpub at the 2024 Queensland Beer Awards.
In February 2023, Hiker opened their Salisbury brewery; in February 2024, they won Best New Brewery and Champion Brewpub at the 2024 Queensland Beer Awards.

 

Since opening in February 2023, Hiker have gained attention in the beer scene near and far: as well as winning trophies for Best New Brewery and Champion Brewpub at the 2024 Royal Queensland Awards, the pair has collected a string of gold medals for their Scottish light ale Wee Little!, reached number 52 in the 2023 GABS Hottest 100 with Cloudscapes Hazy IPA, and found success further afield when two of their beers took podium positions in their respective categories at the Korean International Beer Awards. The Crafty Pint named them Breakthrough Brewery in The Best Of Beer 2023: Queensland roundup.

Before the East Brisbane venue became available, Phil and Daniel were already in the process of gaining approval for future plans at Salisbury, which include installing a kitchen, starting a distillery, and becoming a live music venue.

“We see our competitive advantage of this site [Salisbury] as the size of the venue,” Phil says. “We’ve got a blank canvas that people can use to do stuff here.”

To date, the warehouse brewery has hosted events such as wrestling, circus, sword-fighting, and skateboarding.

“To move to live music is a bit of a no-brainer.”

(Before anyone gets too excited about wrestling or sword fighting in Manilla Street, it’s likely that venue will just stick with trivia.)

Those other plans may have to be put on the backburner for a while now, until Hiker bring in other investors, but that doesn't lessen the whirlwind feeling surrounding their sudden decision to open another location.

“No inkling three weeks ago we were going to do anything like this,” Daniel says, “but here we are!”


Hiker Brewing East Brisbane will be at 65 Manilla Street, East Brisbane. The team hopes to be open in mid-July.

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