The Sunrise/Lauderhill area may not come to mind as a destination for craft beer, but that could change with the addition of GQ's Crafthouse (4497 N. University Dr.). Owner Gary Hardie commemorated the October 19 debut with a soft opening.
GQ's Crafthouse is a hookah lounge with a specialty in craft beer — or vice versa. Small plates, like pita hummus and personal pizzas, are offered. It has a small kitchen (which Hardie describes as more of a prep room), seats roughly 50 on the inside, and has a patio that seats a few dozen more.
With a varnished wood floor, wooden booths, and a 20-foot wooden bar with a small array of craft beer taps, Hardie describes the interior as a clean version of a dive with vintage-era beer art that gives the place a "real strong bar feel," he said.
If none of this grabs your attention right away, consider a couple of things first: Hardie originally wanted to open a rum bar but got hooked on the craft beer coming out of South Florida. On October 21, he hosted Bobby Gordash from Pompano's Holy Mackerel Small Batch Beers, who brought along a slew of brews — including Panic Attack Cafe Cubano Belgian-style ale, which Hardie describes as "gold in a bottle" and is a top seller at the bar.
Also, when Hardie settled on a location, one thing occurred to him: He discovered that there were no craft beer destinations 15 minutes north or south of his bar. Did Hardie discover a craft beer desert? (Take note, restaurateurs!)
Small plates retail from $5 to $10, and all beers retail from $5 to $9 a piece, in addition to daily specials. They're not all local, but Hardie makes sure most of them are Florida-centric. All of his bartenders, he says, are knowledgable about craft beer.
You won't find Budweiser or Bud Light on tap here, Hardie said. The "uncraftiest" beer is Shock Top, which Hardie offers for free with each order of wings for his Wednesday special. It's a deal worth considering, Hardie says, even for the most die-hard craft-beer fan.
The wings are by far the most popular food item. During the soft opening, Hardie went through 40 pounds of wings — he ran out — and tapped at least four kegs of beer.
It wasn't easy to open the place at first, according to Hardie, who said the city wanted to place restrictions because of some unsavory past incidents. But he was able convince them otherwise.
While Hardy is bringing some much-needed craft brew to Broward, that's not the only thing he's known for. You might know Hardie by his other name: DJ GQ from Y100. He's on the radio six days a week. When he's not in the studio, you'll find him delving into the world of craft beer.
GQ's Crafthouse is open seven days a week from 4 p.m to 2 a.m. Stay tuned for the grand-opening party, which Hardie will announce shortly on his Facebook page.
"I don't want to be a craft-beer snob, but I really want the craft-beer community to respect me," Hardie says.
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