It was only a few short years back that you couldn’t find good beer for love nor money in an airport, sports stadium or shopping centre. These vital places of congregation for those who travel, follow sport or shop, were stubborn holdouts amidst a wave of craft beer sweeping across Australia.
I was most amazed when travelling to the United States by the access in such venues to good beer in sports stadiums (there’s now even a Mikkeller brewery in a baseball stadium!), local brewery bars in airports and the availability of good beer seemingly just about everywhere.
Australia still has a ways to go to come close to this but has come some way in recent years.
Westfield and other centre operators are redeveloping their dining and entertainment areas to maintain their relevance in today’s world and good beer is increasingly a part of that package.
It really started a couple of years back, with the addition of good beer venues like The Cellar Door at Eastland in Melbourne, and Whitfords Brewing at Westfield in WA. And now in QLD, there are two Tapworks beer bars in Westfields in Chermside and Coomera with a great range.
The backers of Tapworks are not done yet either. They’re currently trying to raise investment funds with the aim of expanding to 5 Tapworks venues and speak of these ambitions in their pitch,
We have a great relationship with Westfield and have some great dining & bottleshop sites on offer in Australia and NZ.
The recently opened Coomera venue is ambitious in itself with up to 24 beers on tap and a fantastic takeaway selection with crowler cans available – it’s a beer lover’s dream. And all of this in what was previously a desert for good beer, half way between Brisbane CBD and the heart of Gold Coast.
The team are making a bet on the further spread of craft beer and with the explosion of top notch brewers in QLD there’s no shortage of good beer supply. There is however a need for more outlets like this one with taps available for independent brewers, which will encourage drinkers to take a craft beer journey.
That’s where the potential of these kinds of ventures is huge. If they are successful and we see good beer in more shopping centres, that’s a big potential audience being exposed to good beer and that’s going to help grow the pie even further.
Sports has long been a tough place to find good beer with huge amounts of sponsorship money from the big beer companies and stadium deals that lock down the taps but there are signs of change.
The MCG and SCG have been Carlton beer strongholds, but now as part of the ABInBev family, 4 Pines and Pirate Life, are getting a slice of the action through their parent company with 4 Pines opening a bar at the SCG and Pirate Life producing a collab beer with the Melbourne Cricket Club.
In WA, local company Gage Roads has an exclusive partnership with Optus Stadium, and in QLD, the partnership between Newstead and the National Basketball League’s Brisbane Bullets has been great to see.
Stadiums are starting to see the opportunity to entice visitors out not only with sports but with good food and good drink to provide a more complete experience. There are few things in life that offer more simple pleasure than a good beer matched with sporting entertainment so this is all good news.
The airport is a place where you often spend more time than you ideally want. To be able to settle those pre-flight jitters with a nice beverage in a good environment is an excellent start to any journey. It’s also a great opportunity to welcome or farewell travellers to a city with something that is locally produced.
In airports, the pop-up bar from Stomping Ground at the Melbourne airport recently closed after its second stint at Terminal 3 1/2. The container bar in a relaxed outdoor space with lounge chairs and TV screens showing cricket over the summer was a perfect intro to the brewers. They had a wide range of beer styles on offer with everything from sours to porters to pale ales and in between.
Meanwhile the Beer Deluxe chain brought their extensive beer list to Terminal 2 in Sydney Airport last year. With 22 taps of rotating beers to choose from, drinkers now have plenty of choice in a space that was formerly the sole dominion of beers in the Lion stable.
Also at Sydney, the Coopers bar has been a rare win for a brand that often struggles to keep up in today’s climate, offering their range at a small bar amidst the Virgin gates.
It was only a few years back that finding good beer in places like these was near impossible. Now good beer never seems too far away and with the way things are headed it’s only going to get easier to satisfy a thirst for good beer.