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Set your out of office to AWOL

AWOL Tour (Image: © 2021 Inside Gold Coast)
AWOL Tour (Image: © 2021 Inside Gold Coast)

Who would have thought just a few years ago that the Gold Coast would now be a legitimate hot spot for craft beer breweries as well as bespoke distilleries? This trend has been watched with fairly startled eyes; however, it’s also been well received by thirsty locals and Australians nationwide. Good on ya, Gold Coast.

One such brewery that has undoubtedly set the pace is Black Hops Brewery. Now, if you haven’t heard of these guys, then we presume you have been living under a rock. Therefore, we encourage you to taste their stuff right away and do your homework because there will be questions at the end. Jokes aside, Black Hops has seen great success in the last six years, opening new venues and extending into a capital city, winning national praise and accolades, and being one of the local’s favourite go to’s when the mercury starts to rise.

With all this said, you’d be right to assume the brewery is happy to soak in the success and keep pumping out premium beer just like it always has been — except in this instance: you’d be wrong!

After a trip over to the US in 2018, owners Dan, Eddie, and Govs came to learn about — and love — barrel-aged beer. Hardly a new concept but one we don’t see too often here in our lucky country. Like the inception of the original Black Hops, the trio planted the seed of their new barrel-aged beer project over a few cold ones and the rest, as they say, is history!

AWOL Beverages (Image: © 2021 Inside Gold Coast)
AWOL Beverages (Image: © 2021 Inside Gold Coast)

Almost three years later and AWOL (absent without leave) promises to give Gold Coasters a unique taste and beer-making experience. The venue is merely steps away from the original brewery on Gardenia Grove, Burleigh Heads on the adjacent street of Hibiscus Haven. With ample storage space leading back into several warehouse spaces, the new brewery boasts over 100 different barrels of beer, all in various stages of fermentation.

Barrel-aged we hear you say? Yes, so the clever guys at Black Hops take one of their tasty beers and use it as a base to then be aged in wooden barrels that have had exciting past lives from around the globe. There are red wine barrels from France, whiskey barrels from the US, and gin barrels from Tasmania and many more! Meaning the flavour profiles and characters of the beers you can expect at AWOL will not fall short of captivating your tastebuds.

With a modest selection of four original AWOL beers to choose from and a couple of exciting spin-offs — even including a cider — there is sure to be something for every taste. These beers are complex and packed with flavour, so be sure to put on your big boy pants. Expect a whiskey barrel-aged stout by the name of Rebellion Stout at a pretty impressive 9.5% abv, or if that’s not quite up your alley, how about a hibiscus cherry sour by the name of Haven Sour (only 4.4% abv this time) inspired by the street the venue calls home no less!

AWOL Taproom (Image: © 2021 Inside Gold Coast)
AWOL Taproom (Image: © 2021 Inside Gold Coast)

The space has a rustic-chic-inspired fit-out with polished concrete floors and neutral but straightforward tones throughout. You’ll notice some incredible mural action by local creative designer/muralist Kiel Tillman who has cleverly encapsulated the raw yet refined character of what AWOL is all about.

The team are currently running a series of pre-booked tours for the next few Saturdays before then opening to the public, where tours and an open bar will be the mainstay. Keep an eye on their socials and website for more information as it becomes available.

It looks like beer is here to stay on the Gold Coast folks, and to say we are excited is an understatement.

Where: 4 Hibiscus Haven, Burleigh Heads
When: Tours every Saturday. See Black Hops website for details.

Words by Alex Mitcheson.

AWOL External Mural (Image: © 2021 Inside Gold Coast)
AWOL external mural by Kiel Tillman (Image: © 2021 Inside Gold Coast)

Precinct Brewing Co

Your Gold Coast brewery checklist

Burleigh Brewing Co. (image supplied)
Burleigh Brewing Co. (image supplied)

On Friday 5th August, the world celebrates something truly special. Beer. Oh how we love your amber hue, unique taste, and the fact that when you’re around, it means there’s good times to be had!

In honour of International Beer Day, we’ve penned a list of top breweries in our hood so that you organise a brewery crawl! Okay so that’s perhaps a bit ambitious (and reminiscent of our 20s), but there’s no excuse not to ‘hop’ on down to one this weekend. And next weekend. And the one after…

Burleigh Brewing Co.
With gold medals for days from the World Beer Championships, you know you’re in for a good ale here! Famous for their paddle boards, relaxed atmosphere, big smiles and super friendly service, it’s the perfect way to spend a lazy Sunday arvo (or Friyay / Saturday sesh). There’s even awesome live music to set the mood while you quench your thirst. Cheers!
Where: 2 Ern Harley Drive, Burleigh Heads

Fortitude Brewing Co. (image supplied)
Fortitude Brewing Co. (image supplied)

Fortitude Brewing Co
Froth fanatics, Fortitude Brewing Company sees you! This hinterland spot has 15 taps, each pouring something different from the range of Fortitude and Noisy Minor beers – all brewed on site! Visitors can nom their way through a variety of made-to-order pizzas whilst sinking a tasting paddle…or two, or… Enjoy the venue’s rugged exteriors and soft-hearted interiors and on weekends, soak up the beats from talented muso’s.
Where: 165 Long Road, Eagle Heights

The Lucky Squire
In case you haven’t put two and two together, this brewhouse brings to life the story of Australia’s first brewer, the rogue swindler James Squire (cue ‘aha’ moment). Celebrating quality craft beers and modern pub grub, the custom-designed full functioning microbrewery pumps out small, exclusive batch brews, and it’s a cracking spot to round up your crew for an arvo sesh.
Where: 3 Oracle Boulevard, Broadbeach

Lost Palms (image supplied)

Lost Palms Brewing
This pink and mint icon is a short stroll from the hot spots in Nobby’s and a ‘hop’, skip and a jump from Miami Marketta. Pull up a pew outside, sink some unique and refreshing brews, and make sure you grab some sweet snaps for your socials. Roll up for trivia on Thursday nights and live music on Sunday arvo’s, and see why this wicked brewery is a must-visit!
Where: 11 Oak Avenue, Miami

Aardvark & Arrow Brewery
This Varsity based microbrewery may produce ‘petite’ batches, but their list of return customers is anything but small! Consistently producing and supplying chemical and preservative free beer and cider that exceeds expectations, the boutique beers here are on point. The staff are uber friendly and knowledgeable and the prices will blow ya mind (in a good way).
Where: 13 John Duncan Court, Varsity Lakes

Burleigh Barrels Brewery, interior (Image: © 2022 Inside Gold Coast)
Burleigh Barrels Brewery, interior (Image: © 2022 Inside Gold Coast)

Burleigh Barrels
Made for and by the locals in the heart of Burleigh, this newbie has already achieved cult status. Just a 10-minute walk from bustling James Street, hook yourself up with crisp lagers, caramel amber ales and ladies, if you’re all about a vino or cocktail (same), you’ll be well looked after here. Also a smokehouse #props, the flavours in their food are ‘pitcher’ perfect.
Where: 3-4/105 West Burleigh Road, Burleigh Heads

Pickled Pig Brewery
Yes, it’s over the border but meh, we’re one of the same. A totally independent family-owned and operated brewery, this alone makes us want to go! All products are made using German and Belgium brewing techniques, are chemical and preservative free, and vegan friendly. Plus there’s an epic non-boozy range for the DD! Sample from the 14-tap tasting saloon and tasting Paddles, or take a brewery tour.
Where: 1/18 Industry Drive, Tweed Heads South

Balter Brewing (image supplied)
Balter Brewing (image supplied)

Balter Brewing Company
Another one with awards up the wazoo, the newly renovated Balter never disappoints. Its line-up of founders includes some seriously famous sporting legends, and it just oozes chillax and cool in equal measure. Whether it’s from the tap or can, there’s a variety of styles to get your tastebuds singing. Kick back in the new beer garden and enjoy live beats with your brew, along with food truck goodness.
Where: 14 Traders Way, Currumbin

Laughing Lizard Brewery
The good times keep on keeping on at Laughing Lizard with over 150 different beers! The best part, however, is that none contain any nasty chemicals or preservatives (yay, no hangover…well, that’s our story and we’re sticking to it…), and there’s even a gluten-free option #CeliacsRejoice! Here you’ll find a micro-brewery, beer and spirits shop, and every party planner’s besty – a keg hire service!
Where: 27 Sinclair Street, Arundel

AWOL Tour (Image: © 2021 Inside Gold Coast)
AWOL Tour (Image: © 2021 Inside Gold Coast)

AWOL
The latest brainchild from GC beer bosses Black Hops, AWOL is Queensland’s first dedicated barrel-aged beer brand and taproom. Open exclusively for pre-paid tours and special events, hear the AWOL story, learn about the complex nature of barrel-ageing beer, and be guided through a tasting of four AWOL brews. Then stick around and enjoy the taproom experience and stock up on your faves #obvs.
Where: 4 Hibiscus Haven, Burleigh Heads

Gold Coast Brewery
If it’s range and outlandishly tasty and fresh beers you’re after, Gold Coast Brewery has you covered! We’re talking premium options, heavy-duty types, ciders, ginger beers – the works! It’s a local beer lovers, well, local, with owner Ian going above and beyond for his loyal punters. It’s quiet enough for a proper chin-wag, and your wallet with certainly love the prices!
Where: 6/4 Indy Court, Carrara

Black Hops || (Image: © 2019 Inside Gold Coast)
Black Hops || (Image: © 2019 Inside Gold Coast)

Black Hops HQ & Black Hops II
The runaway success of the original Black Hops in Burleigh spurred the creation of its spacious and upscale sibling, Black Hops II in Biggera Waters. Both serve up 16 beers on tap and have popular food trucks on site to feed hungry punters. So whether you’re north or southside, round up your mates, the fam and even your pooch for some award-winning amber ales.
Where: 15 Gardenia Grove, Burleigh Heads and 671 Pine Ridge Road, Biggera Waters

Madocke Beer Brewing Company
The ultimate Belgian beer experience awaits at Ashmore’s Madocke! Starting their commercial brewery in a tiny garage, proud owners Jimmy and Annelies are a bona fide local success story! Enjoy the complex flavours and richness of their brewskis at free Thursday trivia nights, and pair your pitcher with some belly laughs at live comedy night every Friday. Skohl!
Where: 286 Southport Nerang Road, Ashmore

Words by Bianca Trathen.

Sip and learn at Black Hops’s new brewery tour

Over the last couple of years, the Gold Coast has become known as a (very pretty) city to watch in terms of our arts, culture and dining scenes. Which makes sense because as we all know, there are a lot of good things happening.

One of the most impressive (and exciting), are the local breweries that have opened and are now sending their goods across the country to be sipped and adored, as they deserve.

Black Hops Brewing is one of those local breweries and theirs is a success story that is not only extremely interesting but also makes you feel as though you too can do something absolutely epic with your life and make lots of people happy in the process.

Black Hops came about in 2014 when three Gold Coast mates decided they wanted to start brewing craft beer and so they set about to do exactly that.

Fast forward six years, Dan Norris, Eddie Oldfield and Michael ‘Govs’ McGovern are now the proud owners of a brewery and bar in Burleigh Heads and another much larger version in Biggera Waters that opened in 2019.

Which brings us to the point of this quite long tale.

You may now treat yourself to a tour of Black Hops second brewery, learning all about how the business came about while also drinking a very generous amount of the boys’ tasty brews.

The tour begins with a sample of Black Hops very first brew, Eggnog Stout, while hearing about how the lads created it and the process of upscaling to be where they are today.

The rest of the tour is made up of following the route the beer itself takes and learning about everything from the recipe (not the technical term) to the very end, at the packaging machine (again not the technical term).

Along the way, you get to sample many a Black Hops brew and once you’ve learned all the things, you can head to the bar to taste any sips you didn’t get to try along the way.

Our favourite is the Pink Mist which is a Raspberry Saison and the epitome of a girl beer if ever there was one, but it’s very delicious and refreshing and we love it a lot.

So if you enjoy learning about how local businesses became a big deal, while sampling the goodness that made them become a big deal, a Black Hops Brewery tour is the answer.

It’s only $50 per person (BARGAIN) and the perfect way to spend a few hours on a Saturday.

So gather the crew and get involved, it’s a very good time.

LOCATION: 14 / 665 Pine Ridge Road, Biggera Waters

Words and photos by Kirra Smith

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