No trip to the historic town of Beechworth is complete without a beer at Bridge Road. Founded in 2005 by husband and wife Ben and Maria Kraus, the brewery and beer hall is a destination in its own right, known for its annual Oktoberfest blow-outs and the High Country Hop, a festival that coincides with the local hop harvest.
Last week the team announced it’s begun planning a second brewery, at Brunswick East Village, in collaboration with developer Banco. The 350-capacity site is due to open in October 2022 with Nicholson Street frontage and rear access to Bluestone Way, a forthcoming retail and hospitality precinct.
“I’ve always thought about doing a version of what we do in Beechworth, in Melbourne,” Ben says.
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The space will have a 1000-litre brewkit and multiple 2000-litre fermenters, allowing it to produce beers that are exclusive to Melbourne. Beechworth’s excellent core range, including the Robust Porter, Little Bling Session IPA, Beechy XPA and Celtic Red Ale, will be trucked down from HQ to round out a 30-strong tap selection.
“[The new brewery] is not there to roll kegs around the country or can beers for wholesale, but at the same time I don’t want it to be, ‘Here’s a venue with a brewery in the corner.’ That’s not my vibe,” Ben says.
Originally he envisaged Bridge Road’s Melbourne outpost would be built in a refurbished inner-city warehouse, which proved too expensive to bring to fruition.
The alternative – working with a developer to build something from nothing – has its advantages: the brewery loading bay’s being built big enough to accommodate a mobile canning truck. Every so often it’ll roll up, package up a couple of pallets of fresh beer, which will be stacked up and sold “garage door” style, right away, until nothing is left. Ben is excited about engaging with the local community this way.
“You see that model done really well in the US, where it’s canned and then sold on the same day, or the next day,” he says.
While it’s a long 16 months before the brewery opens, the team is currently considering an interim pop-up. Keep an eye out.
Bridge Road Brewers is due to open in October 2022 at 127–149 Nicholson Street, Brunswick East.