The likeable hipster bar
Kerbside – Constance St
[You’ll notice that the images in this review are waaaay above my usual standard. This is because I’m not the one shooting: instead, we had Tracy from Itty Bitty Bites join us and apply her prodigious photographic talents to the task.]
Brisbane’s swift transition from cultural dungeon to Fairly Cool Place has lead to a great flourishing of hipsters. Beyond the city limits the ‘short-shorts-n-mullet’ look remains a steady favourite, but the legions of Instagram fill our inner suburbs – especially the craft beer places. I contend that The End may be the hipster mothership, given that it’s the only place I’ve seen a dude wear a cape without any sense of irony.
Kerbside comes a close second in the Brisbane hipster stakes. On Friday nights, it’s like cape guy laid eggs and started a new hive. Even Brew isn’t this hip, or crowded. The entire warehouse that is Kerbside swarms with vintage-clothed dudes with pioneer beards sitting on scavenged garden furniture, ironically enjoying gangsta rap. The bar is made of doors, and the bathrooms are full of cutesy street art.
You’d think that the picture I’m painting is of an Indisputably Bad Place, but this isn’t a negative review. I stay the hell away from Kerbside on the busiest nights, but anyone who is prepared to use their elbows and ignore the occasional smug glance will get by just fine. Behind the bar are the two reasons that I highly recommend you brave the locals and visit Kerbside: the beer selection, and the bar staff.
Kerbside’s owner really understands beer, and so do his staff. The selection is excellent, and makes quite an eyeful in the tall cabinet fridges. It’s fun to pick beer visually. If your tastes are more mainstream, they also do commercial lagers which get cheaper during the generous weekend happy hour. Finally, if you’re into tap beers, you can choose from three local ales from our local craft beer superhero, Bacchus Breweries. The brewer, Ross, is beer’s own version of Batman, sans hoarse voice and butler. Do bring a fat wallet to this place if you’re visiting outside happy hour and like craft beer – stubbies seem to all sit in the region of $10-$14. That said, many of these rather expensive beers are over 7% alcohol, so you don’t need to drink many before you utterly lose your dignity and make some bad internet purchases.
The second big drawcard is the people behind the bar. No, not like that – just, they’re really good at what they do. Kerbside’s big on cocktails, but it doesn’t have a cocktail list. You just kinda tell them what you like, and they make it. You can be as specific (‘vodka martini with two strawberries’) or vague (‘uh, clear spirit, fruity’) as you like, and they generally come out really well. The Mistress is a devourer of cocktails and reckons they got five in a row right one time (although a marmalade-flavoured thing eventually broke the streak). Here are some of Tracy’s shots of the cocktails in construction…
Don’t go for the food. It’s pub grub, and pretty expensive and bland even by pub standards. I never imagined I could be disappointed by deep-fried camembert, but even while hungry and drunk the dish let me down by being a bit flavourless. I’d suggest grabbing a meal at Guzman y Gomez or Mecca Bah before checking out Kerbside if you’re hungry.
Wednesday was the right time for us to come through, as we got plenty of tasty beer and cocktails without the queues or social annoyances. Kerbside is a great place for a delicious midweek drink, particularly because it’s set apart from most of the filth and horror of Fortitude Valley. Arrive cashed up and full-bellied. Once the weekend arrives, arrive early and be prepared for drunkenness, crowds and DJs – but if that’s your thing, this is exactly where you want to be.