At first glance, a taphouse may appear to be a blokes’ joint, but that’s certainly not the case with House of Brews, set in the middle of Surfers Paradise. This is a new age venue with a lot to please the ladies (as well as the guys)!
Owners Sacha, Damien and Ben Kanaghines brought back a long history of managing bars in Bucharest, Romania, Budapest and Cyprus when they returned to the Gold Coast in 2002, opening Nonna’s in Harbourtown in 2005. Now they’ve chosen to combine their skills in an American-inspired eatery and taphouse boasting by far the largest number of beers on tap on the Gold Coast.
Researching took its toll on the trio as they worked their way through the bars and beerhouses of North America sampling beers and food as they went. As the guys would say, it was a hard job, but someone had to do it!
“We wanted to get to the bottom of what made the best boutique tap establishments and what would work in our market here in Surfers Paradise, which we think is a perfect cultural fit for this kind of venue,” says Sacha.
Thirty-two shades of amber, from pale ale to stout, and lager to cider stretch out along the wall. Who could pass up a foaming lager channeled straight from the barrel-laden keg room to your glass, chilled to below zero degrees Celsius and poured using one of those gorgeous handmade taps, all Gold Coast hardwood turned by a local craftsman! It’s a process worthy of the brew.
They’re boutique brews with a difference, from our own Burleigh Brewing Big Head, Aussie favourites James Squire 50 Lashes Pale Ale and Little Creatures IPA to Blue Moon Belgian White and famous American beers such as 4 Pines Pale Ale, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, and Mountain Goat Steam Ale. The list changes, keeping enthusiasts amply entertained. Of course there’s an impressive range of bottled local and international beer as well, including Holgate Temptress Stout, Feral Hop Hog IPA, Green Beacon Wayfarer and Piston Head.
Grab a spot at the bar overlooking Orchid Avenue to crowd watch as you eat and chat. It’s the perfect place to catch up with friends after work or to grab some lunch on the weekend. Inside, the venue has dining tables and comfortable booths for small groups, with the only rooftop cocktail bar in Surfers Paradise open in the evenings.
While many of House of Brews’ customers will be eager to try the range of craft beer, it’s accompanied by a share menu to soak it up with traditional American BBQ flavours: Buffalo wings, sticky BBQ ribs, pork rind, a variety of sliders and an onion ring volcano tower dripping with truffle cheese sauce. Mains of parmigiana, brisket and a large range of burgers will satisfy the larger appetite.
There’s a sense of theatre to the menu and the cocktails, providing entertainment through dramatic presentation of the dishes and drinks and pushing boundaries on every front. ‘It’s all about the show!’ I hear from the sidelines. There’s much to keep punters entertained here, from live rock and blues artists filling the airwaves to the newly added insects (ants and crickets) which have crept onto the plates, a first for the Gold Coast and one sure to keep tongues wagging!
The biggest party trick dessert of all is one for a very sweet tooth or two: an enormous cotton candy tower. Feminine touches such as this are part of a conscious effort by the Kanaghines brothers to be aware of their changing demographic.
“We’re conscious that some people may see us as a ‘beer joint’, but we sell just as many cocktails as we do beers. Girls feel safe here, and there are cameras everywhere ensuring their safety,” says Damien.
More recently, however, House of Brews has been pushing another boundary on behalf of the ladies. With a strong female presence in their business as well as several women managers, Gender Pay Gap Tuesdays is their new initiative addressing inequality in Australia in its own unique way, one beer at a time.
“The gender pay gap is an issue that we have to address. Women in Australia only earn 82 per cent of the income of men and House of Brews is doing something about it,” Damien told us, inviting women to come and join House of Brews and pay only 82 per cent of their bill between 5pm and 10pm on Tuesdays, a discount equivalent to the disparity in national wages between the two sexes.
“The pay gap has not been a strong focus in government policy. Hopefully that will change. We realise that as a bar restaurant, we cannot change the issue, but what we can do is bring attention to it and start a discussion,” he adds.
As incongruous as it may seem for a taphouse, it’s all part of the family’s social consciousness stemming from their upbringing. At Nonna’s they give away one hundred meals to the homeless every week through Rosie’s.
“We believe in giving back. When you are in business, you realise that you’re not infallible. You can have a measure of success, but you also have the knockbacks and failures. You learn to be humble. To have success, you learn to have a fair bit of gratitude,” says Damien.
Like many others who have travelled the world and owned businesses overseas, the brothers are pleased to return to the heartland and to be in a position to give back to the community. Gratitude has become part of company policy, which they’ll continue at House of Brews, choosing 4ASD Kids (For Autism Spectrum Disorder) as their chosen charity. The karma keg will be a way of doing something for others and having fun at the same time!
“We’re really happy to be part of the changing image of Surfers Paradise,” says Damien, smiling. “It’s changed so much. There’s a real renaissance going on.”
17 Orchid Avenue, Surfers Paradise Ph: 07 5526 2601
Open: Mon – Sun 12noon – late
Disclaimer: Good Food Gold Coast were guests of House of Brews.