In May, Range Brewing’s birthday beer sold out online in three minutes. Release-day lines outside the Brisbane taproom are a common sight, and in November its Fahrenheit IPA was named 2020 Champion Australian Beer at the Independent Beer Awards.
Since launching two years ago, the phenomenally popular Queensland outfit noticed something: almost 40 per cent of online sales ship to Melbourne. So the decision to open a taproom here – on Johnston Street, Abbotsford, specifically – made a lot of sense.
“Melbourne is the beer mecca of Australia. That’s why we chose it,” says Gerard Martin, who started Range with beer rep Matt McIver and brewer Mitch Pickford. “I think people thought it was a big play opening with another brewery [Bodriggy] across the street, but we’ve had people coming from Molly Rose, Stomping Ground and Bodriggy. We send people to Bodriggy and they send people here.”
Unusually, the brewery doesn’t have a core line-up of beers, so you’re unlikely to find the exact same beer twice. Instead it continues to experiment with hop and malt combinations, mostly within the ascendant hazy style, which emerged from the US about a decade ago and promises lower bitterness, a softer body, with more pronounced fruit characters. And they’ve found that’s just what the people want.
There are 12 taps in the main bar, with an additional 12 that can be tapped in the back area for events and collaborations. And the fridges are stocked with tins of Range beers. Nothing is brewed here, but deliveries come from Brisbane twice a week to make sure everything is in the freshest possible condition. Other than hazy pales and IPAs, you’ll always find a couple of lagers and sours on tap or in the fridge, plus rotating wines from small suppliers, gin from Never Never and whisky from Starward.
The taproom is designed to reflect the Brisbane original. Playlists are the same across both venues, and Melbourne’s iron-and-glass back door is almost an exact replica of Brisbane’s front door. Then there are windows that fold out into the street, and vertical-joined panels which nod to the classic Queenslander-style house.
Martin, a mechanical design engineer in a former life, spent time working for furniture company Vitsoe and you’ll find its world-famous, Dieter Rams-designed shelves behind the bar. When designing the Range taprooms Martin wanted to echo Vitsoe’s “functional and consistent” ethos. Even the hard-wearing stools, designed by Martin, are the same across both venues.
The project has been a year and a half in the making, with a small delay due to Covid, and since then Range has grown further as a business with the Brisbane brewery nearing capacity. Martin says while they didn’t plan on a brewery in this space, a Melbourne brewery may come along in future.
“We’re probably going to need a new site next year,” he says. “We’re not sure what we’ll do, but this year we’ve just been focusing on becoming more efficient.”
272 Johnston Street, Abbotsford
(03) 9077 7492
Wed & Thu 3pm–10pm
Fri & Sun 12pm–10pm