Gosh James Squire has good branding. The label has a terrific back-story about a thief who was better at brewing than he was at stealing, excellent themed beer names and the advantage of being one of the earliest in the rise of craft beer producers, and now probably the largest brewer of craft beer in the country. You can buy James Squires everywhere, and they just keep growing in range and craftiness. Now in Brisbane, we have our own James Squires mega-bar – The Charming Squire in South Bank.
Yes, I am using the term ‘mega’ bar because it really is. The place is huge, with bars stretching over two stories and balconies out onto the street as well as a restaurant. Inside the decor is wood and concrete with the ubiquitous copper brewing equipment behind glass and a guide to choosing the right brew for you behind the bar. The kitchen is a theatre you cannot see from the dining room, but people walking by are treated to sights of pigs on spits, frying chips and surprisingly calm chefs. The whole is large, lofty and open. Rather perfect, in fact, for hot Queensland summers.
I visited The Charming Squire for lunch on a Friday. I was with a group and most of us ordered items from the ‘share’ section of the menu, while one person went all out and ordering a steak. I chose pork skewers which were tasty if not delicious and my colleagues chose the pork sliders, lamb burger, fish and chips and chicken wings, all of which were pronounced very good, though a couple of us needed to fill up with a shared bowl of chips.
The menu is a fairly typical range of share plates / burgers / steak, and a couple of salads. The prices feel a little expensive for me, with 2 sliders coming in at $16, salads for $24, chips for $9 being the cheapest price on the menu. A bit over my average lunch or nibbles-with-beer price range. They are clearly want you to stay a while and savour your meal over a couple of drinks. Those of us who chose the more proper meals – burger, fish and chips, steak – were happiest with their choices.
The beer selection of course is excellent as long as you like James Squires. Every make is on tap, including apple and pear ciders, as well as two home-brews they make on location. No tastings though, which was a shame, so I played safe and chose the ‘Chancer’ Golden Ale ($5 for a half) over the home-brewed Galaxy Ale.
The Charming Squire is sure to be a hot spot for after-work drinks. Walking past on a Friday evening, it was packed at 6:30pm and still very busy at 9pm. I would happily go again, particularly as my beer was rather delicious and perfect on a warm day. I think Charming Squire is a great location to get together with a group of mates over pints and chips on a hot summer day.