Felons Brewing Co began life in 2018 with a mission to create beers that celebrate the relaxed lifestyle Brisbane offers. Perched on the edge of the Brisbane River under the iconic Story Bridge, it occupies one of the sweetest vantage points in the city, providing endless inspiration for the brand’s award-winning brews. “The guiding star behind everything we do is to celebrate how nice it feels to sit on the riverbank and enjoy a brewery-fresh beer, to raise it to the sky and say, ‘How good is this’,” says Dean Romeo, Felons’ brand director.
The brewery’s beautiful waterside location also informed its name, which nods to the colonial history of the mighty Brisbane River. As the legend goes, in 1823, four released convicts were attempting to sail from Sydney to the Illawarra when they were caught in a storm that blew them all the way to Moreton Island instead. They were rescued by the island’s Indigenous people and later crossed paths with surveyor John Oxley, helping him to explore the Brisbane River. “What we love about this story is the spirit of freedom and adventure and mateship,” explains Dean. “We work closely with our team to try and apply that sense of freedom and adventure to each beer that we make.”
Brewery director Tom Champion keeps freedom and adventure front of mind when crafting Felons’ beers. “We’re quite open with what we make – we don’t shackle ourselves down with any silly rules,” he says.
Felons is best known for its five-time gold-medal-winning Crisp Lager, a refreshing Munich Helles-style beer that Tom describes as “beautiful in its simplicity.” The core range also includes a zesty, balanced low-carb beer, a classic IPA, an Australian ale, a hoppy natural ale and an apple cider.
The brewery is committed to highlighting Australian produce, sourcing hops and malt from Tasmania and Victoria and fruit for its seasonal sours from nearby farms. The tropical Australian Pale Ale encapsulates this philosophy, combining Aussie malts, hops, yeast and water. “It’s a real showcase of what raw materials we have in Australia and what they can do,” Tom says.
In another display of ingenuity, Felons’ next limited-edition release is a mind-bending Champagne Sour Ale, or as Dean calls it, “a tinny for the top shelf”. It uses New Zealand-grown hops and lacto-fermentation to create a sour beer with wine characteristics. “It’s very unique – we’re fascinated with it,” says Tom.
Felons is part of Brisbane’s buzzy Howard Smith Wharves precinct, where the working brewery rubs shoulders with upmarket restaurants and bars along the river’s edge. “The Wharves can hum with electric energy and it’s beautiful that the beer is there as the blood pumping through it all,” Tom says.
Inside the warehouse-style space you can take a behind-the-scenes tour, sit among the stills and munch on woodfired pizza (the dough is made with a splash of pale ale), or spill out into the sunny beer garden, order a bucket of prawns and raise a toast to the Felons mission.
During Covid, Felons expanded into the event space next door, turning the huge venue into a German-style beer hall. The walls are lined with barrels filled with 15,000 litres of beer, which is now ready to be bottled and released. Come for the live music, zingy south-east Asian menu and complex aged brews on tap.
Products featured are available from 01/02/23 to 07/03/23, while stocks last. Some products or varieties featured may not be available in all stores.