By Chris Wyness, an editor who moved to Melbourne to pursue journalism in the 80s, fell in love with the city’s beautiful green spaces, craft beer and music scene, and never left!
Edited by Jessica Wright
Perhaps it’s the love of sports, or the bounteous green spaces on offer that have nurtured the deep-seated appreciation for good craft beer in Melbourne Australia. I personally love craft beer (in fact, I make my own!) and after almost thirty years in the city, trust me I’ve had my fair share. Back in the day Melbourne was built as a grid with wide service laneways which were largely disused. People started to use these laneways to open up bars and stores, which was the beginning of what developed into a lively bar culture snd the creation of some delicious Melbourne beer brands. Now in full flourish, and paired with a vibrant international music scene, the craft beer selection in Melbourne is in my opinion second to none. It can be tricky to decide where to drink craft beer in Melbourne but I’ve got you covered; soon you’ll be clinking glasses over the finest brews Melbourne has to offer, and exploring some of the best bars in Melbourne, always in moderation of course!
Stomping Ground Brewery and Beer Hall
A colourful and vivacious community brewery and one of the beautiful beer gardens Melbourne, Stomping Ground Brewery was opened up by some of the forefathers of the craft beer movement in Melbourne. A cosy setting with fires to keep you warm in winter and light and airy beer gardens in the summertime, it is also spacious enough for the large crowds that flock to the place over weekends. The service is quick, the food a hearty dream and the beers are delightfully varied in style and flavour with around sixty new beers being brewed here annually. If you’re lucky enough to be able to go in the week you’ll miss the crowds, but if you go in a large group or over weekends be sure to book a table so you can avoid missing out on some of the best craft beer in Melbourne.
Moon Dog Brewery
One of my favourite boutique breweries in Melbourne, this self-proclaimed “Tropical Brewery Bar Paradise” is impossible to miss with the retro pizza van out front and branded water tank to signal your arrival. Quirky in the extreme with strange sexy undertones in the names of their beers and a good dose of Aussie humour, the industrial space is a funky homage to tropical kitsch. You can forget the usual brews you’ve come to expect; here you’ll find “Splice of Heaven” a raspberry ice-cream pale ale, and “Cherry Pie A` La `Mode” a bourbon barrel aged wild cherry red ale–brews that are certainly pushing the envelope when it comes to what might be defined as beer. A tour of the brewery is well worth it – if not for the excellent beer, then certainly to hear the entertaining rags-to-riches beginnings of this eccentric little brewery. Situated on Duke Street in Abbotsford, they have free brewery tours every Thursday night at 7pm and on Saturdays at 2:30 pm.
Mountain Goat Brewery
Nestled among the factory warehouses and trendy apartments in Richmond, Mountain Goat Brewery started the way the best breweries do; two mates having a pint together. Picturesque enough to have played host to many a wedding with its beautifully lit equipment and spacious high ceilings, and buzzing with merry beer-swigging revelers on Wednesday and Friday night, this is ideal for a night out with friends. With friendly staff, the occasional addition of jazz music and a great variety of award-winning beers, this is also the perfect finish to bicycle ride through Melbourne, because cyclists get a free beer! A pioneer of craft beer in Australia, they continually pump out award winning ales; try any one of them - you can’t go wrong here.
Hop Nation Brewing Co
During the week they are all business, but come weekend the food trucks pull in and the fun begins with charity and live music events scheduled throughout the year. They live by the motto “In hops we trust” and here you can put your faith in Hop Nation to deliver you some incredibly decent beer. Be sure to try The Fiend, the breweries flagship beer and the one that made it all happen. Tucked away down a laneway 10 minutes out of the CBD, this hidden treasure with occasional live music and relaxed atmosphere is worth the hunt. This passionate brewery is also one of the places that offers craft beer tasting Melbourne, so if you’re keen to learn a little bit more about the delicate flavours that make up a good beer, or simply want to explore all the options, this one is for you.
Fixation Brewing Co
If you’re completely obsessed with a great IPA and on the hunt for the perfect one, then Fixation is must-see for you because it just so happens that they are fixated with IPA! Considered to be some of the finest craft beer in Fitzroy Melbourne with the extensive research and expertise that have gone into their delicious range of IPA beers, you can be sure to find your IPA match made in heaven and possibly the best IPA in Melbourne. To help you along in your quest the Fixation team offer a tasting experience, serving you samples right in the Incubator tasting room of the brewery where all the magical IPA ideas are born. Bitter, aromatic and unfailingly fresh, this award-winning brewery has it all when it comes to a good Indian pale ale.
Beers to Try
You don’t have to go to a brewery to find the best craft beer in Melbourne. Here are some other excellent beers to look out for on your bar-expeditions. If an award winning, fully hopped XPA or if a crisp pilsener is what your taste buds are after, try the Balter Pilsener. Modus Operandi is famous for the award winning craft brand; all about being fresh and local, the beer is permanently kept cold with a “packaged on” date. Look out for the seasonal ranges and limited release brands. Pirate Life Pale Ale is the Pirate Life craft brewery’s flagship beer and it compares to the best in the world. Bucket loads of big US hops, full malty backbone and a characterful yeast. A must-try! Another one of Australia’s best craft breweries, Bridge Road, serves up what has been voted Victoria’s best craft beer, and happens to be set in a picturesque part of the high country, a bit out of the CBD but worth a visit! You could decide to do a good deed (while enjoying some great beer) and go for the the Bread Beer; a German style Weizen made with surplus bread that would otherwise go to landfill. Or – quite the opposite in name – try Black Heart, from a small and idiosyncratic home brewery in Brighton. Their Belgian Wit topped the People’s Choice poll while the 9.2 per cent Tripel has proved so popular it’s gone on to become a semi-permanent part of their range.
All the Choice in Melbourne
If you’re in Melbourne CBD and need a fix for your beer craving, Beer DeLuxe is where you should be heading. With a cosmopolitan take on beer, they offer in excess of 150 packaged beers form local and international breweries and great food. The food menu has been created so you can “enjoy your food without having to put your beer down”. Now that’s true beer love. From live music and cultural events to tap takeovers, there is always something happening here. The venue is also multi-facetted, boasting a burger bar, a fantastic cafe, a salon bar, a dining space and a beer garden. If, similarly, you’re wondering where to drink craft beer in Melbourne and still enjoy other enticing drink and food options, there are several amazing bars where craft beer can be had, while simultaneously taking in some of the vibrant and diverse Melbourne life. Ponyfish Island, under the Yarra Pedestrian Bridge, has a range of the best craft beer in Melbourne which can be sipped while taking in some incredible views of the city. Le Bon Ton in the trendy suburb of Fitzroy is a Louisiana-inspired tavern, is a haven for the beer-loving reveller with a hunger for southern-style cooking, and a tempting array of cocktails, whiskeys and even a spot of sweet tea.
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