Ahem, let’s start at the Story Bridge Hotel. The Story Bridge Hotel is one of the doyens of the Brisbane pub scene, along side the ever popular Regatta (“Regretta”) and Breakfast Creek Hotels. The pub consists of three bars (Shelter, Outback and Heritage) along with a gaming area, bottleshop, restaurant and function rooms.
“Cool story, bro,” I can hear through the magic of predicting internet sociopathy, “But what about the brews?” Good question. The Story Bridge has been a long supporter of craft brewing. Just go to the Wig & Pen and have a squiz at where most of their awards were won. On the other hand, the SBH has never been just about the craft beers and more focussed on going upmarket.
Nowhere is this more clear than the three bars. The Shelter Bar, in its current form, is a recent addition to the hotel, built literally under the Story Bridge. It’s a pleasant, breezy spot where a discerning drinker can choose between taps covering CUB’s international licences, one of the Little Creatures, a couple of Matilda Bay’s and Squire’s with a few craftier choices thrown in – the likes of Moo Brew and Nail Brewing.
Unfortunately, the Shelter Bar comes with a dress code and while I’ve spent a few weekend afternoons there in shorts and thongs, come sunset you’re asked to move on to one of the lesser bars, albeit the staff are quite polite about it. Indeed, a mate of mine was asked to move on mid-afternoon for wearing a singlet, despite at least two other gentlemen being similarly attired. It’s a place where the snappier dressing local (read: bogan) comes to have a tipple in a clean and very white environment.
The Heritage Bar is part of the original Kangaroo Point Hotel and looks and smells as if the finishes haven’t been updated since it was founded in 1886. Needless to say, this is where the XXXX is served and there’s no dress code, unless there’s a rule about mandatory wearing of hi-vis.
The Outback Bar is wedged in between the two and consists of spillover from both bars – a mix of the working class and cashed up bogans (and, I guess, yours truly). It’s a sad spot where the humming of the air conditioning plant is audible and the sun ruins your view of the TV. It’s the space that fell between the cracks of the two hubs. It lacks an identity and, perhaps unsurprisingly, the beers on tap are a mix of what you can get in the other bars.
What does all this mean? The selection of craft beers is appealing but mostly limited to bigger brands. You’re unlikely to discover a hidden gem in these fridges. The menu consists of standard but good pub food, so there’s naught to complain about on that front. Ignoring the Heritage Bar’s carpet for a second, the place is neat and tidy and the Deery family clearly run a tight operation.
While you could say there’s something for everyone at SBH, I really dislike dress codes, especially in summer in Brisbane. Double especially mid-afternoon. Fuck pants and sleeves, the humidity is at 95% and I’m sweating just thinking about walking anywhere. Knowing you can’t hang around from afternoon through to the evening in the place that has the best selection of beers kills it for me.
- Locality: Kangaroo Point, QLD
- Type: Independent, large pub
- Rating: 1 / 2 selection + 1 / 1 food + 1 / 2 ambiance = 3 / 5
- Interior Design: Shelter Bar is cool and breezy but the Heritage Bar could use a hard floor covering.
- Likelihood of making a spectacle of yourself: Minimal. There’s a dancefloor on Friday/Saturday nights but the place isn’t known for going off into the wee hours.
- Plus: Decent range considering SBH doesn’t cater specifically to the craft crowd.
- Minus: More douchebaggery than I care to deal with.