Impressive as Melbourne’s breweries are, they rarely wear more than one or two hats.
When it finally arrives in August, Abbotsford’s Bodriggy Brewing Co promises to be different. The 424-capacity taproom will serve auténtico Mexican food and a connoisseur’s selection of mezcal and tequila to go with it. Also on the cards: jazz, funk and world music “two to four” days a week; eight natural wines on tap (including a sparkling pét-nat made at Noisy Ritual); and Mexican-inspired cocktails such as tepache, made by fermenting pineapple juice and spiking it with cinnamon and sugar.
Owners Jon Costelloe, Anth Daniel and Pete Walsh run Dr Morse, almost directly across the road, next to Victoria Park station. They’ve been working on this new project since 2016. The guys first noticed the “for lease” sign out the front of a dilapidated LP gas conversion centre just two weeks after they’d discussed doing a brewery together. “We didn’t have too much time to think, because it was fairly hotly contested,” Walsh says.
Site secured, it took them 12 months to push the ambitious plans through council: six months to upgrade gas, electricity and water, and six more to install brewing equipment in the big old warehouse. In the meantime the trio began contract-brewing Bodriggy’s colourful beers at half a dozen other breweries around town to “get a feel for the market” and build their wholesale reputation.
Enthusiastic drinkers may already be familiar with the Bodriggy’s Highbinder pale ale and Space Milk, its more experimental range of fruited sours, available at selected pubs and bottle shops. These beers and more will be poured from 12 taps at the Abbotsford HQ, where head brewer Tristan Barlow (who formerly held the same role at Alphington’s excellent La Sirène) has been working away for about a year now.
The head chef is a Mexican expat named Johny Dominguez, last seen cooking at fine diners Dinner by Heston and Vue de Monde. He’ll be working with a “gnarly” custom-built grill to produce plenty of snacks and more substantial meat dishes with “heaps of spicy sides”. There’s also some pedigree in the bar, in the form of Mikey Braun (ex-Black Pearl) and Max Hart (ex-Boilermaker House).
Like we said: this isn’t going to be a typical brewery.
“We want to be family friendly and a happy, easily accessible space,” Walsh says. “But we do think there’s a market for a place like this, that can put the foot down a little bit on a Friday and Saturday night, after dinner. There’s got to be a focus on other styles of booze for that sort of environment.”
Bodriggy Brewing Co will open in early August.