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Raise the roof: Valley Hops Brewing unveils its sun-soaked brew house and bar

By George Hadgelias

Brisbane has craft breweries popping up everywhere these days, from the backstreets of suburban industrial estates to the gently lapping banks of the Brisbane River. Up until now, every craft-beer maker has been more or less earthbound, with tanks firmly secured to terrestrial foundations. Valley Hops Brewing is taking the art of beer making to new heights, literally – its newly opened brewhouse and bar sits several levels above terra firma on the roof of Fortitude Valley icon Cloudland. Boasting a vantage point above the nightlife precinct’s heaving streets and a range of brews inspired by The Valley’s people, places and moments in time, Valley Hops is a novel addition to Brisbane’s bar scene and is shaping up to be a popular destination for summertime sipping.

Whenever a new rooftop bar opens, it gets us wondering just how many buildings are harbouring a vacant canopy begging to be transformed into a high-rise hospitality hub. Fortitude Valley is in the midst of a rooftop renaissance, with primo perches like MAYAIris and Cielo Rooftop Bar opening over the past year. Katarzyna Group, the hospo crew behind long-running Fortitude Valley institutions Empire HotelPress Club and The Warehouse, is the latest operator to join these raised-up ranks. Last week the team quietly opened Valley Hops Brewing – a new independent craft-beer brewery and bar constructed atop Katarzyna’s crown-jewel venue Cloudland. This fresh-faced addition to Brisbane’s frothie scene is an ambitious undertaking, one that required some extensive planning and preparation to get right. It was not a process that the Katarzyna crew undertook lightly. Adding a brewery on top of multi-level building requires much more work than simply removing the existing solar panels and plonking some brewing apparatus on the roof slab. For Valley Hops Brewing, it required the construction of two more stories (one for the bar and brewery itself and another to accomodate the necessary plumbing and electrical amenities), the bracing of the existing structure to bear the added weight and the use of cranes to lift in the brewhouse equipment for installation. The effort has paid off – Valley Hops Brewing is a first-of-its-kind locale for Brisbane, with some terrific views taking in much of The City and The Valley’s surrounds.

Emerging out of the elevator (accessed from within Cloudland’s entry foyer), guests are greeted by a breezy 300-seater space designed and shaped by WallaceBrice Architecture andJumble & Stack. In terms of aesthetics, Valley Hops Brewing blends glamour with approachability courtesy of a material palette comprised of stone, brick, timber and metallic accents (softened by an abundance of greenery). Immediately visible is a stone woodfired pizza oven and the bar, the latter boasting 36 taps and a bespoke leadlight (made from hand-wrought coloured glass panels) running the length of the serving area. The venues dining floor (which is largely protected from wet weather courtesy of a transparent protective roof) is dissected by a metalwork arbour (coated in creeping vines) running from the bar to the boundary that looks out towards The City. One half of the space boasts a large fire pit with built-in benches, circular stone tables and booths, while the other half accommodates a host of high and low tables for groups. Valley Hops Brewing’s brewhouse sits behind glass on the far side of the venue – its two-vessel 15BBL brewhouse visible to guests as they blow the froth off a sudsy ale.

Despite sitting five floors above street level, Valley Hops Brewing is rooted in the nightlife neighbourhood’s history, placing Fortitude Valley’s punters, places and its cultural legacy as a party precinct at the core of its personality. Helming the venue’s beer-making operation is head brewer Josh Warren (formerly of Green Beacon), who has formulated a range of six core beers that offer a cross-section of thirst-quenching tipples to try, each inspired by some facet of The Valley itself. Leading the offering is the Exhibitionist tropical ale (inspired by The Valley’s colourful characters and abundance of people-watching opportunities), the 21 Pubs pale ale (a nod to the infamous 16-kilometre fun run that boasted 21 stops), the Diehards lager (a tribute to the local rugby league team, the Valleys Diehards) and the Interloper IPA (an ode to the misfits, artists and big dreamers). The range also includes a bold IPA and a mango-and-passionfruit sour, while a selection of seasonal and special releases will also appear on a rotating basis. The bar will stock a selection of seven signaturecocktails (made from Australian spirits) and an abbreviated-but-quality wine list. The previously mentioned woodfired pizza oven is tasked with producing ten kinds of pizza, while a newly built kitchen will whip up share plates of whole-grilled king prawnswagyu and saltbush skewerscrumbed shiitake mushrooms with cashew dressing, salt-and-vinegar chicken wings, crunchy Queensland pineapple fritters, and antipasti boards.

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