There’s something different about Burnley Brewing. Like many brewpubs it has a concrete floor, large bar and a long row of taps. But there are also softer touches. Pastel pinks, blues and greens are complemented by light wood-grain finishes and tan booths. Behind the bar a brewery sign is illuminated in gentle white light that contrasts with steel-gray walls. There are shiny brewery tanks in the front window but it’s the reclaimed spotted gum bar co-founder Neil Mills wants people to gravitate towards.
“We wanted the bar to actually be a place where you wanted to sit. To be the hero of the place, not like a token bar you order at, but the first place that fills up,” Mills says.
Those familiar with Romulus and Remus, the Italian restaurant that was here before, will immediately find similarities. The space, firstly, but also the kitchen staff have all stayed on. That means Italian dishes such as crispy gnocchi with pea and chorizo, or beef ragu lasagne. They sit side-by-side with American-style bar snacks including nachos and wings. Like the clash of soft and dark colours, it’s a fresh take on a well-worn brewpub formula.
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“We wanted to do a modern take on pub culture around Melbourne. Casual and comfortable,” Mills explains. “Somewhere you’d bring your mum for lunch or somewhere you’d come after work with your mates.”
While they aren’t brewing in-house just yet – that will come in a month or two – they are serving their own beer brewed off-site. A larger brewery is also planned at a different location further down the track. To create the beer and refine Mills’s homebrew recipes, they’ve bought in Michael Stanzel, who spent the last eight years working and completing a Brewing and Malting apprenticeship in Germany. That means the beers are all clean and well executed. While the range may feel familiar to Melbourne beer lovers, Mills tells us he has a “real soft spot” for the high alcohol and aged beers found in Belgium and, in the future, plans on using barrels for ageing bigger beers.
For now the vibrant yellow Pale Ale, with tropical and citrus flavours, is the pick of the lot; and no doubt the Double IPA and Coffee Brown Ale with lactose (milk sugar that helps give beer a sweet body) will find fans among those wanting bigger flavoured pints.
Mills owns Burnley with business partner Phil Gijsbers (together the pair have a number of venues including Pedro Espresso and Small Print Pizza) and the former owner of Romulus and Remus, Renton Carlyle-Taylor (The Milton Wine Shop, Toorak Cellars, The Hills and The Alps), has also come on board. The team at Milton Wine Shop has curated the wine list.
“Generally we are trying to keep it fun and also hopefully get the engagement from people wanting to ask, or go one step deeper than they normally do when smashing a beer,” he says. “We’ll have me or Michael brewing in the back room, completely open and you’re welcome to sit at the bar and chat with us while we do it.”
648 Bridge Rd, Richmond VIC 3121
(03) 9429 3042
Mon to Sun 12pm¬–1am