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Black Hops II

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

Go big or go home is a thing people say and it’s certainly true of the lads at Black Hops who have, in the last few days, opened their second brewery and it is indeed big and also likely your new home.

Black Hops II can be found up north in Biggera Waters, not too far from Harbour Town Shopping Centre, so there’s two excellent reasons to drop in.

It’s a warehouse-style space that, interestingly, used to be a place where giant boats were built. Now though, it’s a sweet, extremely good-looking brewery and the boys really have outdone themselves.

As you’d expect, it’s a big, open space decked out in the boys signature dark hues. High wooden tables line the sidewall underneath another big thing – a stunning mural by another local lad slash legend, Kiel Tillman. It reads ‘Beer made by 3 mates on the Gold Coast’ and it’s a topographical map of the Gold Coast and you probably won’t stop staring at it the entire time you’re there.

On the opposite wall is the reason you came, the bar. Pendant lights hang from above the marble bar, greenery cascades from above the taps and you’ll find 13 beers and one cider on offer.

Around the corner, there’s merch for sale including take-home Growlers and Squealers (our favourite word) and, the hallway leading to the bathroom is a delight, lined with sweet, cartoon-style artwork.

The whole space just screams good vibes.

In case you’re wondering why Dan, Eddie and Govs undertook the mammoth task of opening a second brewery, the answer is simple; supply and demand. Since brewing began in 2015, Black Hops have been stocked in over 400 venues and retail outlets in (mostly) Queensland alone and the rest of Australia want in.

To help fund the new brewery, Black Hops undertook a record breaking equity crowdfunding campaign, raising $400,000 in just six days. Which obviously goes to show that the people want the beer.

The team are Australia’s first brewery to run a successful equity crowdfunding campaign and we are super proud of them (and y’all) and also stoked because we get an epic new brewery to frequent.

To celebrate the official opening, a few limited release beers will be pouring, including Danger Zone (an Imperial Red Ale), Thunder Cloud (a hazy Triple IPA) and Kiwi Lager (an Imperial Lager) so get ‘em while they’re frothy.

Oh and ps. try the Pink Mist, it’s what they call a Saison and (excuse the clumsy explanation) but it’s brewed in a similar way to how champagne is made and it’s got raspberries and it’s very delicious (and not overly beery if that’s your thing).

On Friday and Saturday nights there will be food trucks so you may make the most of a Saturday night on the beers.

Bye now, buying all the Squealers.

LOCATION: 14 / 665 Pine Ridge Road, Biggera Waters
HOURS: 12pm until 6pm Wednesday and Thursday and 12pm until 9pm Friday and Saturday

Words and photos by Kirra Smith

Black Hops Brewing

Black Hops Brewery, in Burleigh Heads, has been in business for almost three years and in that short time, has become one of the Gold Coast’s favourite brews.

Today, the three men behind the brand – Dan, Govs and Eddie – launched their very first Pale Ale, in a can no less.

We had a chat with Dan about the new brew and why Black Hops has gone the way of the can.

Congratulations on the latest addition, tell us about your new Pale Ale?

We have always been pretty creative with our beers and beer names. We launched with an Eggnog Stout and our main beer was a Saison. Pale Ale is a style that both the team and our customers drink more than any other, so we thought it was a good idea to put a big effort into making this beer.

It’s a modern pale ale with a nice balance of pale malted barley and tropical hop aromas. We call it the Black Hops beer for every occasion. We called it Pale Ale, our least creative name yet. We don’t want people to overthink it. It is what it says on the tin.

How long did it take to develop the flavour?

Govs has been working on pale ale recipes for a decade but this is our first official batch. We had a meeting a few months ago about the need to make a big splash with our first beer into cans and decided on brewing a new beer as opposed to canning any of our current nine offerings.

From there we had a lot of meetings about every aspect of the beer. The colour, style, aroma and flavour were part of that as was the launch plan, design, marketing and sales strategy.

There have been some challenging moments but in the end we got a beer we are all stoked with and all 4,300L of it was sold before anyone had tried it.

The Pale Ale will be your first beer sold in a can, why did you decide to do that?

There is a big trend towards cans. The old mentality of cans tasting tinny is gone with modern cans and there are many benefits. They are cheaper, safer, more enjoyable to drink out of, they transport better and take up less space and they look sexy AF!

You’ve got 10 beers in the collection now, which has been the most loved do you think?

We have a “core range” of nine beers but we’ve probably brewed 20 or 30 total, maybe more. Out of the core range beers our seasonal IPAs have a loyal following particularly our American Red Ale “Code Red” and our Black IPA “ABC Bomb”. Our first beer the Eggnog Stout has a cult following and our 8.3% Super Hornet has been a big hit.

Judging by the response to Pale Ale though we think this will quickly become a fan favourite. On launch day we went through our first keg in a record five hours at our Taproom in Burleigh and at least two venues ran through the whole keg that night. Our online pre-sale of 40 cases sold out in two hours and all kegs and cans were sold in the two weeks before launching.

There’s a few microbreweries popping up around the Coast lately, what do you guys have that the other companies don’t?

Great tasting beer 😉

Biggest lesson you’ve learned since opening the brewery?

Probably the biggest one was the need to have a deliberate marketing and sales strategy for selling beer. Beer doesn’t sell itself and having everyone from the Taproom staff to the owners, marketing and sales and brewing guys working together on a deliberate strategy to make and sell beer people want has been a big lesson. Our Pale Ale beer and successful launch is the culmination of that work and it’s made a big impact so far to the business.

Anything else exciting in the works for Black Hops?

The big things for this year are going into cans, expanding the brewery and starting to sell beer interstate. We’ve also got the AIBA Awards and GABS beer festival coming up in May where we are aiming to better our previous best of a Bronze medal at the AIBAs and 9th at Gabs.

We are also putting out lots of content on our site including a podcast called Operation Brewery where we are documenting our journey to the AIBAs.

Kiel Tillman

Kiel Tillman was recently commissioned to paint three murals and a piece of art for The Arts Centre’s Signs of the Time exhibition.

He’s a long-time Gold Coast local and much-loved designer. We sat down for a chat with Kiel to find out his take on the local arts scene and what he’s got coming up.

Tell me about your background. How did you come to be an artist on the Gold Coast?

I grew up in a small coastal town on the mid north coast of NSW. I was always creative through high school and in year 12 I found out there was this thing called a Graphic Artist and you could get paid for being creative so I was like, “sign me up!”

As soon as school ended, I packed my life into my Barina and moved to the Gold Coast.I studied a Diploma of Graphic Design and jumped straight into working at a big offset printing company, I went to Billabong designing clothes for eight years, worked with a friend at his company called Potato Press.

After seven years with those absolute legends, I felt the need to do more freelance work. Now I am predominantly working on my freelance career with my own clients doing everything from graphic design and illustration to t-shirt design, murals, hosting workshops and whatever else creative I can sink my teeth in to. I think it was back when I worked at Billabong I realised I could produce art and exhibit it and people would actually want to check it out.

About six years ago I started to focus on it more and was getting involved in group exhibitions and having my own solo exhibitions both here and interstate. Now I just basically get involved with any exhibition I get asked to do.

We have seen your work at the Gold Coast Arts Centre’s latest exhibition, Signs of the Times, how did you get involved?

They contacted me to create one of the commissioned pieces so I jumped at the chance. I also got the opportunity to paint three of the walls in the main terrace areas out the front of the Gallery and Arts Centre. It was really great working with the guys there. They’re really trying to bring more of a youthful culture to the Coast. The Signs of the Time exhibition is the perfect example; I mean they had a lineup out the door on opening night. I don’t think that has ever happened before.

What have you been working on lately?

I’ve had a bunch of logo designs on the go lately which is pretty standard. I have a collaboration with TC and Beach Burrito Co. happening which will be a t-shirt and some live painting at the Coolangatta Beach Burrito on the 4th of March.

A piece for a sneaker themed group exhibition coming up at Sanchos Dirty Laundry in Canberra. I’ve got some big stuff going on with Burleigh Brewing Co., which will roll out soon.

The job I’m literally working on right now is a tee design for The Undercurrent representing my home suburb, Currumbin. Represent. Kinda like a non-cheesy souvenir tee for the locals and tourists alike. It’s going to be rad.

How has the Coast’s arts scene changed over the years you’ve been involved?

It has definitely evolved since I started. There are seriously so many great creatives coming out of the Coast. Some people in the industry can be surprised when you say you’re from the Gold Coast, they think that you should be from one of the capital cities or something. The world is connected so much more than even 10 years ago when I started, so you can get your work out there easier.

What’s unique about artists on the Gold Coast?

I think we’re unique because we DONT come from a major city. We have a different perspective due to the lifestyle we live. I think the best thing about the creative scene on the Coast is how supportive everyone is of each other. It’s so awesome to see the community thrive.

What do you think the future holds for art on the Coast?

The opportunities are endless. There is seriously so much potential for the coast to become a heavy hitter in the creative industry. Look out!!

Anything exciting in the works for you?

This year I’m just focusing on getting my freelance business cranking. I love connecting and creating with all kinds of people through my work, so just more of that is the aim. I have had an idea for a solo exhibition for the last couple of years, so I might take some steps to get that off the ground this year also. No promises though. My wife and I not long had our second child, so I’m enjoying spending time with our little family unit at the moment. Trying to get that work life balance right – It’s not easy!

Stay tuned for Kiel’s collaboration with The Undercurrent, a new local t-shirt label, which will be introduced exclusively on Inside Gold Coast in April.

Peta and Brennan Fielding

What do you get when you cross a laidback Hawaiian brewmaster with a former Aussie Corporate Finance Lawyer? Burleigh Brewing Co. of course.

We sat down for a chat with the couple who pioneered a new era of craft brewing on the Coast.

It’s International Beer Day this Friday, will you be doing anything to celebrate?
Every day feels like International Beer Day for us! Our taphouse is open to the public every Friday evening and this week is no different – Live Music by Benny D. Williams, food by Wiener Haus and 24 taps of awesome local beer by Burleigh Brewing. Surely that beats ‘international beer’ any day of the week 😉

How long have you both lived on the Gold Coast?
I (Peta) grew up in Brissie, with the Gold Coast a bit of a second home. I moved here 28 years ago, then went on a bunch of overseas adventures (for about 8 years in total) and moved back permanently in 2002. I moved back at that point with a husband and 2 kids. The things you collect when travelling the world, hey! Brennan: Peta brought me to Burleigh Heads for a holiday in the late nineties … part of me decided at that point it was a place I could call home!

What made you decide to open the brewery here?
Burleigh provided the perfect location for us to bring our Burleigh Brewing vision to life – a village atmosphere and lifestyle in a region with ‘big city infrastructure’ to support our business goals, and a community to which we could contribute in a meaningful way – and, hopefully, become a treasured part of that community, adding to the overall fabric of Burleigh Heads and the broader Gold Coast. It also offered the opportunity for us to create jobs for people which would mean a very short commute, often on a bike, and time at the beginning / end of the day to enjoy their families and the amazing place where we all live!

Who comes up with the ideas for each of flavours of beer? More importantly, who comes up with their names?
Creating a new Burleigh brew is a team effort. They’ve all come from some kind of experience or adventure and in many ways, the names have come along as part of that process. Take My Wife’s Bitter for example. When we owned a brewery in Hawaii, we named a beer after each of our kids. Peta figured she also deserved a beer named in her honour. And so it was.

What do you love about our city?
The beauty, the energy, the people. We love that we are able to move between our property (with our horses) to our business to the kids’ school and the surf – all within a 15 minute radius. It makes for a pretty special lifestyle. Those of us who get to live and work in this city are a lucky bunch!

The Coast’s culture has changed so much over the last few years, how do you think BBC has contributed to that?
I suppose we could claim to have pioneered a new era in craft brewing on the Gold Coast – which has certainly been part of energizing and releasing the latent creative talent and culture here. And more than just brewing beer, our goal is to inspire others to live their passions too and celebrate ours with the beer we make! I believe that the creative, cultural undercurrent has existed for a long time here, but the maturing of the city in terms of infrastructure, transport etc has really enhanced the opportunities to bring it all to life.

How did you come to be here, tell me about your backgrounds?
It sounds like the start of a corny joke. What do you get when you cross a laid back, surf-loving Hawaiian brewmaster with an Aussie, former corporate finance lawyer? Our paths were certainly very different, but we’re pretty grateful that they crossed.

How did the brewery come about?
Brennan was born to brew! It’s the only real job he’s ever had and he’s as passionate today about the process of creating the perfect brew as he was the day he began. I had an equally strong passion – to create something that didn’t exist before. I didn’t know what it would look like, but I knew how it would feel. So I guess we are two people who came together to turn what we love into what we do.

What have you got coming up for the rest of the year?
There’s always something brewing in our world! New beers, new ways for people to experience our taphouse and our brewery, new ideas and new opportunities to enjoy them. Summer – and the lead up to it – is a pretty crazy time in a brewery. Crazy good.

Best piece of life advice you’ve ever received?
Mum always told me that your nail polish should match your drink and that the toilet furthest from the door in the public loo is the cleanest. Not sure those gems have been the most useful. Dad was a bit more profound. There are no wrong decisions. Just make a decision. And then work like hell to prove it was the right one. Brennan likes to remind himself that the definition of an idiot is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome.

Being a Gold Coast local we have to ask your Favourites:
Beach: Burleigh Heads
Café: Social Brew. It almost sounds like a brewery.
Restaurant: Anything that stocks a great range of independent beers!Weekend hang: Burleigh Point – or the fire pit in our back yard

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