Sure ‘Bitter Suite’ is a pun, but then so is ‘The Beatles’
Bitter Suite – 9/10
75 Welsby Street, New Farm
Archive used to be cool.
There, I said it. I remember the days when it was incredibly cool, and in my heart of hearts I still love visiting it about half the time. It’s just the other 50% of the time that it’s either ridiculously full, or frothing with tragically ruffled 90s hobo-chic bicycle courier dickheads. Plus, the menu has utterly gone to the dogs, with a number of mates reporting food poisoning as an added insult to their generally average meals. This is doubly sad given how good their steak menu once was.
Fortunately, as with all cool things that eventually get co-opted by jerks, Archive had its moment of glory where it set some precedents. These precedents inspired further innovation, and we’re seeing that now as places like Kerbside, The Scratch and Bitter Suite crop up offering tasty craft beers in more virginal suburban spots, each with a pleasant twist. Bring on the new.
Of the new emergent tasty craft beer spots, Bitter Suite remains my favourite for summer afternoon drinks. Not far from the Powerhouse is a corner restaurant which has changed hands a few times in recent years; it’s a bit out of the way. Since Bitter Suite set up there late last year it’s finally got a bit of buzz and I’m really hoping this lasts for years to come, for two reasons. Firstly, it is probably the best place to drink good beer outdoors in Brisbane at the moment. Secondly, it seems to be attracting a pretty mellow crowd, and is often busy but never crowded. Other perks include decent live music that isn’t turned up too loud, plus regular ‘meet the brewer’ beer tastings and the awesomely friendly owners, who seem to have ditched professional life to live the dream.
And what a dream it is. Bitter Suite is in a pretty spot with plentiful outdoor seating and occasional table service. It hosts a solid selection of interesting beers, mostly from Australia and New Zealand but also some great offerings from as far afield as Denmark and the US. While it is possible to run into the occasional lousy beer amongst the gems, there are enough fun things on offer that you’ll definitely find something worthwhile, and the standard Stone & Wood Pacific Ale is a delicious mainstay for those feeling like a steady, sessionable beer. Price-wise the beer menu is moderate, ranging between about $7 and $11. I’m told the wine selection is also decent and the food menu, while not mindblowing, has become a lot more consistent and tasty over time (contrary to the Archive trend). They do bowls of onion rings which literally drip tastiness, especially after a couple of pints.
Also worth dabbling in is the range of beer-ish things that are not technically beer. Crabbie’s Ginger Ale was a discovery for the mistress, who generally spurns anything that has been brewed except Rogers and, well, tea. Also exciting is the upcoming release of a Hibiscus Ale from the local Bacchus Breweries in Capalaba, which neatly straddles the boundary between cider and beer.
If you live anywhere near the Valley/New Farm area or have any reason to be at the Powerhouse (there are many), I can’t recommend Bitter Suite enough as a spot for chilled social drinking, especially on warm afternoons. Get in while it lasts; I am eternally optimistic that this place will stick around but if it goes the way of past businesses, you’ll definitely regret missing it.