Good Beer Week swept through town last month leaving a few sore heads in its wake. But there’s no reason your enthusiasm for beer should stop there. The long weekend is the perfect time to get to know each of these breweries’ individual charm and character, while, of course, putting away a beer or two.
Kooinda Boutique Brewery
This is a place to regress to your youth playing Street Fighter and Mario Kart 64 on the vintage sofas, with the bonus of a great range of craft beer. The bar is among the brewing equipment and serves Kooinda’s full range. These include mild classics (such as the Valhalla Golden Ale), big hoppy brews (such as the Black IPA) and more experimental creations (such as the Asian tea-infused rice lager). Once you’ve settled on a drink see which food truck is parked out front – there’s a different one every night. Kooinda also offers brewery tours and features regular live music. Thursday nights attract a lot of students from nearby La Trobe University. On Fridays expect a more mixed crowd.
Moondog Brewery Bar
Take a walk on the wild side at Moondog in industrial Abbotsford. Sip on a pint of the very tangy – and creatively named – Perverse Sexual Amalgam. Go back for another, or try Moondog’s Black Lung IV stout or Love Tap lager, perhaps. Moondog is known for experimental brews, so expect unusual flavours such as watermelon and pumpkin alongside classic beers too. Munch free popcorn, play table tennis, then grab dinner from whichever food truck is out front that night.
Mountain Goat Brewery
This backstreet Richmond warehouse opens its doors two nights a week. Inside you’ll find the Mountain Goat brewers. Although it all started with backyard homebrews, Mountain Goat has been brewing since the mid ‘90s and is now one of the most established craft beer brewers in Australia. Here you’ll find a bar serving a range of its classic beers along with some experimental, single-batch beers, such as coffee IPA and mocha stout. The space is huge but with a homey atmosphere. Grab a tasting paddle to get a flavour for what’s on tap while picking out a pizza for dinner – check the specials board for the latest cheesy creations. Get in early on a Wednesday to take a tour of the brewery (from 6.30pm).
Temple Brewing Company
A stone’s throw from the Brunswick East end of Lygon Street sits Temple. It is a two-storey bar with a clean, modern style. When picking a pint you’ve got Temple mainstays (the light and easy drinking Bicycle Beer and hoppy Any Time IPA), some experimental beers (Monsoon ginger beer) and guest ales to choose from. Floor-to-ceiling windows face out into the brewery, so you can see, hear and even smell the brewing process. All while sipping the end result. The kitchen dishes out ‘beer food’: burgers and fried chicken. Drop in on Saturday to meet head brewer Glenn Harrison, who’s happy to answer questions and show you around.
2 Brothers Brewery
When in the US, brothers Dave and Andrew Ong got a taste for craft beer they couldn’t shake. On their return they were disappointed to find their choice of local beer was limited, so began brewing their own. At their brewery is a spacious bar, with a relaxed welcome-all attitude that is a perfect space for enjoying their creations. The beer here is the freshest around. It comes straight out of the filtered brew tanks, which are plumbed into the bar taps. With 10 or more beers on offer there will no doubt be something that takes your fancy. Ask about the seasonal and one-off brews available; strange and potent concoctions have turned up in the past, such as its Crème Caramel beer (13 per cent ABV). You can get yourself a pork roll on Fridays and take brewery tours on Thursdays from 6.30pm. Live music and pizzas are on offer both nights.
OUT OF TOWN
Hargreaves Hill Brewing Co.
Head out to Yarra Valley wine country but this time for the local beer. A complement to the beautiful hills that surround it, this elegant restaurant and bar welcomes visitors from near and far with first-rate food and a selection of seven beers on tap. The bar is classy and mature and this is reflected in its beers. Hargreaves Hill doesn’t go in for the experimental brews, but instead focuses on making great-tasting classics. These include a dark malty stout, a fresh hoppy pale ale and even a Bavarian style Hefeweizen.
After the original brewery was sadly destroyed in the Black Saturday fire in February 2009, Hargreaves Hill was forced to relocate its production centre to Lilydale. You’re welcome to visit and take a look round the brewery by appointment.
Mornington Peninsula Brewery
The clean-cut design of this bar is carefully considered to maximise the impact of it being housed in a brewery. There is a hanging ceiling and signs that frame the brew tanks sitting behind. Head up to the mezzanine level to sit, drink and admire the production centre. Notice the ‘wall of fame’ – a series of framed posters featuring previous speciality beers, such as Imperial Stout and Rum N Raisin Porter. The bar stocks Mornington Peninsula’s regulars, witbier beer, brown ale and IPA. You can also try its speciality beers and guest ales. Wood-fire pizzas are served to hungry drinkers and there’s live music every Sunday. The bar attracts a good mix of tourists and locals. Brewery tours are available for curious minds.