I took the opportunity back in September to go on a Craft Beerscapade to Melbourne for 5 days, as those that breeze over Craft Beerscapade on Facebook and Instagram would know. The main mission was to venture to a few of the more notable Craft Beer Bars and Breweries in Melbourne, which were either a short stroll or tram ride away.
I had plans on where I wanted to go, but nothing set in concrete regarding how or when I was going where! It’d been many, many years since I’d been to Melbourne and never actually stayed in the city itself. We had flown into Melbourne on Wednesday afternoon then taxied it to a motel, across the creek from Crown Casino, for what would be home base for the next 4 nights.
Once we had settled into the motel it was time to start exploring Melbourne City that afternoon. Roaming the streets and taking in what the city has to offer the first beer stop was the Penny Blue Bar nestled up one of the many laneways that Melbourne is famous for.
Straight up, this is a place that any craft beer lover could call home, comfy setting, laid back dimly lite atmosphere, a great “Penny’s Museum of Beer” bottle wall and yes a great range of quality craft bottled beers and a few hand pumps. Staff I chatted to were friendly and well knowledged, giving plenty of advice to this freshmen of the city, including a hand written list of recommended beery places to visit. We hung around for a few relaxing beers before heading back to the motel.
On the way back I managed to pass by Federation Square, oh and hey look there’s Beer Deluxe! So dropped in there for a quick gander and a tasting paddle, but I’ll leave my review of that bar for the day I did my second visit there.
Dinner on day 1 was at the James Squire Brewhouse attached to the Portland Hotel. Another great place to visit, and as you’d expect the taps poured the James Squire range of beers and a few of their special brews. Seemed a popular spot with the locals to eat, drink and sociali
se. We paired our tasting paddle with the Sea Salt & 4 Pepper Calamari and the Portland Club Sandwich before strolling back through town.
Headed out to breakfast at the South Wharf area and after a bit of sight seeing we eventually came across the Matilda Bay Brewery in Port Melbourne. It’s a brewery that brewed my first taste of craft beer towards the end of last century (the 80’s) – Redback Beer! It’s nestled in a commercial area, a short distance South West of Melbourne, in a red brick building which formerly housed Cadbury. A spacious well set out brewery where you can sit in the bar area and safely watch the workings go on in the brewery or in a more causal setting in their dining room
as you get your fill. With 15 working taps you can choose from their full range as well as their unique brews and collaborations they have pouring at the time. Unfortunately CUB has announced that the premises will close in March 2015, moving production to Cascade in Tasmania.
On the move again back into town, and the hunt was on for another bar that I walked past the day before and didn’t even realise. Found the place, sign above my head, and all I saw was an open door that appeared to lead to a darkly lite flight of steps. In I went and up a few floors, through a rustic door with the word Cookie written on it. Glad I found this place – Cookie Beer Hall, what a cracking joint, from the street
you wouldn’t know it was there. Inside houses a large bar/beer hall area and restaurant and for the beer lover you have a few hundred bottled beers on their menu and 20 odd beers on tap! Had a quick chat to the suave looking chap with the handlebar mo working behind the bar, who had given me a few beer tasters to help me make my mind up. After a few drinks it was time to move on, getting close to dinner so headed back to base for a splash and dash.
Little Creatures Dining Hall, a converted stable/wool store, in Fitzroy was the dinner destination. With a long bar along one side wall, a kitchen at the back, it leaves a huge area for booths and tables for walk-in dining. On tap was the Little Creatures range along with the three White Rabbit beers and the Shift Brewers Stash American Brown Ale either standard or through the Randall (great beer both ways). Had more than my fill of beer and food and was quite happy with both as it also seemed with the amount punters that frequent this fine establishment.
Heading back into Melbourne the night was still young and as this city doesn’t sleep, we meandered over to South Bank with a quick walk through Crown Casino. All this walking got me thirsty and there was a method to my madness, it was in the form of the Belgian Beer Café, another popular beer haunt for the Melbournites with a relaxed atmosphere. Great selections of local craft beers on tap rotation and bottles and of course some Belgian beers as well.
I was on my own during the day for the next three days so the plan was to venture out of town and today I was only going to head to St Kilda. So after a short stroll I made it to Acland St by midmorning and seeing as it was too early for a beer, it was just the right time for morning tea and I couldn’t pass by the cake shops without a purchase or two – hey I was walking and I’ll burn it off quickly. At the end of the street was Acland Cellars who have a great range of bottled craft beers. I continued a little further on to Carlisle St to eyeball The Local Taphouse for my arvo session and with some time to burn I walked to the next corner before seeing a tram heading to Richmond and jumped aboard. Destination was the Bridge Rd stop!
Disembarking the tram I headed up Bridge Rd with 4 potential locations to visit! I quickly came across Purvis Beer and went in for a look, an extensive selection of beer in here, and dropped back later for a few takeaways. Further down the road was Slowbeer another craft beer bottle shop, that I’ll check it out on the return trip. After another 10mins of walking I hit The Royston, and it seemed like it’s a popular pub for the local workers in the area as the lunch time crowd started coming in. On the beer menu 2 particular beers caught my eye – the Mornington Peninsula’s Russian Imperial Stout 2013 & 2014 vintage, both awesome beers with the older one coming out on top.
So after a few more beers I traipsed a few doors back down the road to have a gander in Mountain Goat Brewery. After walking in a checking out the Goat Bar a few of the workers came over for a chat and gave me a quick run down of the place, but the bar wasn’t going to be running until later on that arvo, so it was back to Slowbeer for a few slow beers straight from the their four taps. Great marketing ploy pouring beers in a bottle shop, as after you’ve sat down had a few chargers while checking out the selection, it seemed easier to part with some more cash for takeaways.
The Local Taphouse. I rocked up out front and the place was deserted, then it clicked when I saw the steps leading up stairs and promptly made my way up. I was greeted by small European inspired style pub with a display wall of bottled beer behind the bar and a 20 strong tap list to choose from, then opening out to a rooftop beer garden. Great atmosphere at this venue even in the early afternoon and I can imagine it being quite busy with the locals come after-hours. I choose another tasting paddle being keen to check out a tap variety, but in moderation as I still had find my way back into the city for an AFL Qualifying Final tonight.
Today’s going to be a big day as it’s the last full day I have and I wanted to check out a few bars and breweries before heading home. I took off on foot for a walk through the city via the Victoria Markets, which I should have known better, but anyhow this diversion burnt up a few hours. Heading back up Victoria St I passed the construction site of a new high rise which was formerly the old Carlton Brewery, which some of the original facade is being retained for the development. Jumping on the tram, it was off to Brunswick East.
After a quick stroll up Lygon St, I stopped in at my first point of call – The Alehouse Project, just on midday. Another great craft beer venue, but looking from across the road it doesn’t stand out, but like most places in Melbourne if you’re in the know, you know where to go! It boast 12 rotating taps, a decent bottled beer selection, with a choice of the bar area, dining hall, lounge and beer garden to savour a pint or two and a feed. Me, I chose a few quiet unique draught beers before heading off.
Just around the corner was Temple Brewing Company, my next stop on my Melbourne Craft Beerscapade! I’d only had their Anytime IPA before and hadn’t really researched this brewery other than its address, but glad I paid them a visit! The brewery is set in a modern commercial complex, plain matt black concrete walled exterior, but with lacquered double wooden barn doors with an identifiable TBC emblem door handle. This modern style is consistent through out the brewery and bar, sporting a restaurant bar and an upstairs bar both look into the stainless steel brewery through glass pains, for patrons to see how their beer is brewed. The taps flow all of Temple’s brews including the specials along with guest taps. My choice via a paddle was all Temple’s including a special Lambic brew along with a slider and chips. Great modern atmosphere and staff!
Moving on to my last planned stop for today was a 5km dash to Abbotsford, no not the CUB Brewery, a much smaller and more popular in the craft beer circle – Moondog Brewery. This old warehouse come brewery knocks out their unique brews to patrons in a mismatched decorated bar area which somehow seems to work very well. It’s a brewery that has what is needed, cold craft beer, a food van out front and a big arsed screen for the sporting mad Melbournites! Managed to take in a few quarters of footy, and the odd Moondog beer or few, before making a move as I started to permeate the aroma of a brewery but not before grabbing one of their SS growlers for my collection on exit!
It was Fathers Day and my last day in Melbourne, so my ventures were confined to the city. So after taking in a bit of site seeing, I managed to find my way to Federation Square for my second visit this trip to Beer Deluxe. The reason being this time was an advert on their website I had noticed prior to going to Melbourne – Fathers Day Celebrations with Half Price Beer Tasting Paddle. Yes please! This place has plenty to offer patrons, being situated in a popular part of the town, it hosts 2 levels – the bar, beer garden and café on the ground floor and burger bar above. The main bar runs 22 taps and a100+ bottled beers to select from – me I found another 8 unique beers to add to my list.
Just across the road from Fed Square and Flinders St Station is Young & Jackson, and after walking past it about 20 times in the last 5 days I couldn’t pass it again with out looking in. This historic Hotel boasts a number of bars suiting a broad range of cliental that frequent the premises, from the young entry level beer drinker to the elderly seasoned drinker happy to sit at a window and watch the world go by, families and social gatherings. They support craft beer on their 30+ taps, from the more main stream varieties to one off brews from craft breweries around Australia, including commissioned brews on tap under the Y&J label.
There were a few other bars that I managed to visit to keep the alcohol level up but the ones mentioned above were on my main agenda. I added another 62 unique beers to my list on my Craft Beerscapade balanced off with about 35klm’s of walking! Of course there was sight seeing, café and restaurant visits and some shopping in between the Bar and Brewery crawl – plenty on offer in this city!
Any how hopefully some one may find this post interesting if you’re planning a beery visit to Melbourne.