Brisbane's Tippler's Tap to close, relocate to South Bank

Leading Brisbane craft beer bar, Tippler’s Tap in Newstead, is set to close and relocate to South Bank, taking the space currently occupied by sister venue Tomahawk Bar, which will close permanently.

Tippler's Tap turned the unlikeliest of spaces into a leading craft beer bar.

Tippler’s Tap turned the unlikeliest of spaces into a leading craft beer bar.

Owner Brian Kennedy said Tippler’s Tap will close after Saturday, December 19th, 2015 in preparation for relocation. It will reopen in January 2016 at its new home in the South Bank precinct at 5/182 Grey Street, South Brisbane. Tomahawk Bar will permanently cease trading after Wednesday, December 23rd 2015.

“Tippler’s Tap will continue its mission to sustain the good beer drinker in its new location with a few additions from Tomahawk Bar’s offering, including tasting paddles, small-batch spirits, a few food offerings, and a full offering of take-away options from the kitchen, the bar fridge, and the 13 taps,” Brian said.

Tippler’s Tap has been a leading light of the burgeoning Brisbane craft beer scene since opening in last 2012, however the lease for the venue has expired and the bar is currently operating on a month-to-month tenancy. The building itself, an industrial shop front and the unlikeliest of hosts to a craft beer bar when it opened is due for demolition. With several years to run on its lease in South Bank, Brian said it was a logical decision to move the successful venue to the space currently housing Tomahawk Bar.

Brian says Tippler’s Tap was inspired by the small bars, cafes, and restaurants he and his partner Emily visited in Chicago, San Francisco and Belgium.

“It was also at the time a reaction against what we perceived to be the dominant style of Brisbane bars: lots of televisions, stainless steel, steak, salad and chips, and lager,” he explained.

“We had a limited budget, we designed it ourselves, and also built most of it. We wanted it to be a small, neighbourhood bar that we would like to hang out in. We were honestly quite surprised by how many other folks wanted to hang out there too.”

The bar anticipated the now popular trend of American-style street food, something that Brian says was “just a reflection of the things we knew well and enjoyed that we wanted to share with others. We had no idea it was the beginning of a powerful trend.”

He says Tomahawk Bar was conceived a year and a bit later at a time when the number of places offering craft beer and American food had begun to grow quite quickly.

“The opportunity to open a restaurant at South Bank presented itself, and we felt that this would be an opportunity to showcase craft beer to a wider, more mainstream audience. Most of the tenancy was outdoor space, and we leveraged this in our design so as to make little distinction between the indoors and outdoors,” he explained.

“It’s been almost three-and-a-half years since we opened Tippler’s, and one-and-a-half since opening Tomahawk. We’ve learned quite a bit in that time about what works back of house and front of house. The relocation of Tippler’s Tap to the space occupied by Tomahawk Bar gives us the ability to preserve the efficiency and approachable of the Tomahawk footprint while bringing the character and warmth of the Tippler’s space.

“We’ll be reclaiming much of the material, furniture, and fixtures we used in the original Tippler’s Tap and re-purposing them as part of the re-refurbishment of the South Bank space. We believe this will provide a tangible continuity for Tippler’s Tap that long-time customers will immediately notice when visiting the new space. We’re hopeful that the countless visitors to South Bank will be also be drawn to the space.”

“We never set out to be an ‘American food’ restaurant or a ‘craft beer bar’,” he said.

“We just wanted to create a place where people could come alone, as couples, with kids, or as groups of friends to hang out and feel at home. It just so happens that I grew up outside of Chicago and want to offer the sort of food I grew up with, and [my partner] Emily and I really like good beer.

“With the relocation of Tippler’s Tap, we intend to focus on exactly that, and hope that other folks that like their beer and food will come, hang out, and contribute to the ‘vibe’,” Brian said.

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