August 17, 2014 by 250 Beers
The below article – written by me – was published on the 5th May 2014 on The Crafty Pint…
Brisbane’s craft beer scene is often referred to as burgeoning, flourishing and exploding. Whilst these terms are felicitous – and, without doubt, the love of good beer will continue to thrive – it is fair to say that Queensland’s capital city is now firmly established as a respected focal point on the map of Australia as far as decent beer is concerned.
Restaurants and nightclubs seem to come and go. But craft beer venues in Brisbane are coming and staying… and long may that trend continue. Tomahawk Bar is the latest addition to a lengthy list of Brisbane bars dedicated specifically to finer crafted beer. Taking its name from the American hop variety, Tomahawk Bar is situated towards the southern end of Grey Street in the CBD, within the expanse of the popular cultural precincts of South Bank and a mere moment from South Bank train station.
Owners Emily Russell and Brian Kennedy will be hoping to emulate the success that they have achieved with Tippler’s Tap since it opened in October 2012. Although it should be noted that, while both bars have subtle similarities and boast the prowess of manager Carl Rhodes and head chef Ali Orchard each venue is strikingly different.
Tippler’s is primarily an intimate indoor space – with a small covered area outside – and is located on a street where customers would go especially to visit the bar. Tomahawk, on the other hand, is nestled on a very busy street in a lively, bustling area and will attract a larger volume of foot traffic. With a seating capacity that exceeds 100, there’s an option to either sit inside or out in the open air where approximately 80 percent of the tables reside. Many line the leafy footpath, which could cause a potential headache during prolonged heavy rain, so it’s fortunate that, generally, Brisbane’s weather rarely includes protracted downpours; presumably afternoons and evenings sat outside enjoying the balmy climes in the breeze generated from the Brisbane River will far outweigh any fuddled attempts at raising umbrellas.
The interior is simple yet effective. Soft lighting, a copper-topped bar, a semi-exposed view of the kitchen and a basic, steel-backed, 13 tap centrepiece that – along with much timber and parquetry – all make for a welcoming feel to the place. Being on a corner block enables twice the amount of glass frontage to open up and entice in passers-by.
“We chose thirteen taps – as opposed to an even twelve – because thirteen is Brian’s lucky number,“ says Emily.
“Brian, like all good American boys, was in the Cub Scouts and at the age of eight participated in an activity called Pinewood Derby. With the help of their dad, each boy had to build a pine race car to race it in a downhill challenge against the other kids’ cars. Brian happened to paint the number thirteen on his car and took out the race with the fastest and best looking car.
“Needless to say, thirteen has been his lucky number ever since.”
The importance of featuring independent breweries in the mission statement is in plain sight. Beer produced locally takes centre stage among the taps as well as two large, handsomely stocked fridges showcasing bottles of all sizes and styles from small Australian and international breweries. For the souls that prefer to sip wine or even soft drink there is ample available.
If staring in awe at the beer menu doesn’t set the mouths of the most passionate beer lover drooling then the food menu will. It has been carefully designed and constructed to include elements of beer as well as compliment it.
Items such as Hopcorn Chicken – hop marinated, herb fried chicken pieces – will be a surefire hit. Or how about sticky stout ribs? Perhaps a Belgian Dubbel mushroom pie or maybe baked Camembert served with warm herbed wort? It’ll be hard to ignore the Tomahawk Trout – a whole rainbow trout having been Tomahawk hop-smoked – served with a number of accompaniments including pale ale lemon butter and wort reduction.
Tomahawk Bar – along with Hoo Ha Bar literally around the corner – provides South Bank residents, workers and visitors alike with exciting beery options. Plus, the northern end of Grey Street will soon see the opening of Queensland’s first – Australia’s sixth – James Squire brewpub – The Charming Squire.
With a number of fantastic eateries in South Bank slowly introducing more and more craft beer onto their drinks menu, it’s an area of Brisbane that will accommodate the fussiest of thirsty palates and provide Brisbanites with yet another pocket of goodness to rival – in an amicable way of course – the existing fruitful patches of West End, Newstead/Teneriffe and the strip formerly known as CaXXXXton Street.
Tomahawk Bar is at 5/182 Grey Street.