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.
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!
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!
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.
Words by Alex Mitcheson.