From suburban pubs and beer halls, to inner-city bars and rooftops – craft beer is everywhere. Here are a handful of venues, not just featuring it, but embracing it.
Still fresh to Melbourne’s Smith Street scene, but a clear draw for all things beer, Forester’s Hall in Collingwood is equipped with a whopping 50 taps; 32 of which are craft. "I don't know it's necessary, but it's fantastic, isn't it?" says co-owner Russell Griggs, who admits he was exclusively a “VB and Carlton” drinker before converting to craft. Forester’s doesn’t just have an abundance of beer options, it regularly runs special tasting nights and events exploring beer ingredients, manufacturing and flavours.
Down the road on Wellington Street, The Gem is harder to stumble upon – making it the perfect place to hide away. A cosy Americana-inspired corner pub, The Gem features a tight list of local and craft beers to accompany an extensive menu of Texas-style barbeque. Because anything dried, rubbed and smoked, should naturally be complemented with ale.
Cookie in Melbourne’s CBD is an internationally recognised bar that pays particular attention to local micro-brews. With more than 200 listed beers and 24 on tap, including locals Thunder Road, James Squire, and Bridge Road Brewers, Cookie functions as a beer hall, cocktail bar and Thai restaurant, featuring a staggering 70-page wine list and a 23-page beer list.
South of the river, and a stones-throw from St Kilda beach, is The Local Taphouse. “We wanted to create something a bit sophisticated,” says co-owner Guy Greenstone of the Carlisle Street spot. Greenstone and founder Steve Jeffares established a European-inspired tavern that supports everything craft beer, covering appreciation sessions, home-brew nights, and simple, solid advice.
“We’ve always remained independent so that we can select whatever beers we want,” says Greenstone. “It means we can give a lot of small breweries an opportunity to have their beer sold on tap.”
Their enthusiasm stretches across the border. The pair simultaneously opened The Local Taphouse in Darlinghurst, creating an interstate mini-boutique beer empire. Featuring a rooftop terrace and live music, a rotating list of over 20 craft beers is just a bonus.
Closer to the Sydney CBD, the newly refurbished Keg & Brew in Surry Hills has plush leather banquette seating, enormous taxidermy features and 30 taps and three hand pumps specialising in craft beer. The overhaul from grunge-pub to beer-specialist is a credit to the folks behind equally craft-centric and neighbouring pub, Dove & Olive.
"There are so many local, independent breweries creating some really fantastic beers right now," says Dove & Olive publican, Dan Ryan. "The more people we can get to try something new and delicious, the better."
Dove & Olive is so enamoured of local brews it’s even created a good-natured Craft Beer Fight Club – beer nerds debate and rate their favourite tipples.
For a schooner in the Sydney CBD, Buckley’s in Circular Quay features a neat list of specialty craft beers, including the limited release James Squire Hop Thief. Or for a Friday afternoon pint with a view, Hotel Sweeney’s has an unassuming retro rooftop, which offers a relaxed vibe and a great selection of craft beers.
For more information about craft beer, visit jamessquire.com.au/beer.