A Guide to Melbourne’s Booming Craft Beer Scene
Over the last few years, the craft beer movement has completely taken over Melbourne thanks to a handful of young beer makers across the city. With an over 1,000 percent increase in the number of local breweries (reaching at least 60), the craft beer scene in Melbourne and surrounding areas have made the city one of Australia’s greatest destinations for beer. What's more, one in three craft beers in Australia now comes from Melbourne.
From beers brewed with hybridized wild yeasts and infused with native herbs and bugs to the cross-influence of British and West Coast American-style beers, breweries are putting Melbourne on the map as a brew city to rival the likes of Portland.
So where does a beer lover get into it and taste the best of the best that Melbourne’s beer makers have to offer? We’ve got you covered: from the brewery bars to craft beer watering holes, here’s how to do it right, down under.
Equal parts beer hall, cocktail bar and eatery, this mural-covered hangout located on the first floor of the CBD’s Curtain House is an institution. Serving up a rotating selection of Australian and European-style craft beers on tap, Cookie is a good way to get a glimpse of what’s going on around town with beer makers at the moment. If you aren’t sure what’s the move with their lengthy selection, one of the knowledgeable staff will lead you in the right direction. Oh, and be sure to go hungry. Not only is Cookie a cult craft beer locale, but it also happens to be slinging some of the best Thai food you’re going to find in town.
Named Westside for their dedication to making premium West Coast American-style IPAs, Westside Ale Works is the place to see how Australia does America. Only packaging their beers into 750 ml bottles and producing just 400 litres at a time makes sure that what you’re drinking, whether it's their punchy double IPA or one of their special seasonal beers, is something you won’t soon forget.
Located in Melbourne’s seaside St.Kilda neighborhood, The Local Taphouse is a go-to for beer lovers in both the neighborhood and beyond thanks to a whopping 100-plus bottle list. Specializing in European beers as well as Aussie’s best and rarest offerings, if you’re into bottles, The Local Taphouse is the place to get your bottle on. Combine that with weekly comedy nights and a rooftop bar and bistro and you’ve found yourself your new hangout.
If you think you might have accidentally stumbled onto a chill house party in someone’s garage that also happens to double as a flea market, then you’ve come to the right place. Started by three brothers who called the brewery home for a time when money was tight, Moon Dog Brewery and Bar is arguably Melbourne’s most eccentric of brew bars. A small but stunning selection, craft beers can range from everything to a straightforward pint of pilsner to one of their crazier brews. The trio has made beer with everything from truffles to watermelon. Go with the new creation on tap and grab a bite from the food truck out front.
With a local craft beer list that rolls over 40 deep (the largest in all of Australia), Forester’s Hall in Melbourne’s Collingwood neighborhood is pretty hard to beat. Pair that unbeatable selection ranging from local red ales to hoppy American-style IPAs with their famous five dollar parmas, pizza till 2 a.m., a live music venue and dancehall and a closing time of 4 a.m., and there is literally nothing else you could need.
Brought to you by the same guys behind The Local Taphouse, Stomping Ground Brewing Co balances between the more adventurous on the craft spectrum, like a potent 11.4 percent barley wine, with easy drinking lagers so that there’s truly something for everyone in your merry band of beer lovers. The sleek digs located in Australia’s original craft brewing district also provides a beer-centric menu for hungry patrons (think mussles steamed in saison), as well as (a gated) place for kids to play, so day drinking can be fun for the whole family.
If you’re coming out of Etihad stadium after Aussie rules footie and need a post game beer that’s not just something to drink, keep the sportsman-like competition up and head down the river boardwalk to Four Points Docklands. Nestled along the water of Melbourne’s up-and-coming Docklands neighborhood, the bar at Four Points is centred around creating an air of friendly competition between the cities best and brightest beer makers. Following the launch of their Best Brews program, the beer-centric bar faces off local brews against each other for a stint as the featured in house beer with the help of voters and their in-house master cicerone. Besides the crowned champ (currently über hot craft beer, Little Creatures), you can enjoy a collection of craft beers on tap from around the city and soak up the suds with some of their top-notch Australian style barbeque at the adjoining restaurant, Dock 18.
Want a place where you can just sit back and enjoy a cold beer without feeling like you’ve walked into the pretentious beer club? The Catfish, in Fitztroy, is just the place to get acquainted with the city’s best beers. Founded by industry veterans and sporting a rotating tap list of small craft beers like Garage Project’s “Party & Bullshit” IPA or a Boatrocker Brewing Company Märzen, there’s always something new and special on tap. Plus, they have a damn good Philly cheesesteak.
You can’t go to Melbourne for the craft beer and not go for a pint at Mountain Goat Brewery. One of the original craft brews in the city, Mountain Goat is largely responsible for the craft beer surge in Melbourne. While they’ve definitely grown with success (aka getting big enough to be sold to Asahi), it’s still the real O.G. — and you can’t come to Mountain Goat’s town without paying respect at the stylish brew bar and sip on one of the classics.