Perhaps it’s something to do with oxidisation. Or vitamin D. Whatever the science behind it, it’s a known fact beer tastes better in the sun. (Note: may not be fact.) So naturally we seek out the best spots to drink the frothy stuff in the sun as summer extends our days. Here’s a guide to the best beer gardens, rooftops and outdoor bars in our city at which to get some sun on you this season.
The Great Northern
The Grandaddy of all beer gardens. Just north of the picturesque village on Rathdowne Street, the Great Northern is almost always filled with sportsball fans fixed on one of the many tellies, kids and dogs competing over fallen chips, and brew purists who’ve come for the prodigious list. Sidle up to the two-sided bar and you’ll find 21 of the best taps in the city, with local heroes including Fixation's blood orange and grapefruit IPA, and Balter Brewing's Captain Sensible mid-strength beer.
White Rabbit Record Bar
The White Rabbit Record Bar on Bellair Street in Kensington is one of the area’s hidden gems. As the name suggests, the White Rabbit is indeed a record bar; it has an eclectic selection of soul cuts and local vinyl out the front. Out back you’ll find a spacious garden with umbrellas and ferns – just the right place to pore over the liner notes with a schooner of Little Creatures.
Federation Square rightly has its place as the city’s arty centre. After gorging yourself on culture, repair to the Astroturfed vista of Beer Deluxe and sample from the extensive list of craft brews on tap: White Rabbit’s Flanders-style Sour Red Ale; a Saison Rose from Hawthorn Brewing; and Modus Operandi’s Silent Knight porter. Only then will you truly be ready for the Romanian Film Festival.
Marquis of Lorne
To call the Marquis of Lorne reliable is a little unfair: it’s been a Fitzroy local for more than 150 years. What ain’t broke ain’t fixed at this classically styled pub where the food’s just as good as the drinks list. If it’s a sunny afternoon, make your way up through the lower levels to the rooftop garden above and repair with a pint until it’s time to go back down for a flank steak and sprouts.
The Bridge Hotel
It’s impossible to discuss beautiful spaces in Melbourne without invoking the name Techne. The design agency that made the words “fit-out” a household term has worked its wonders on the Bridge Hotel, where architect Justin Northrop has created a fantasy laneway right in the backyard.
Although every inch of the Bridge’s beer garden is considered, it still feels fundamentally organic – the perfect place to wile away the afternoon with a few pots and a parma.
The city’s got its fair share of classy rooftop bars, but first-thought best-thought can be a useful operating principle: Siglo remains hard to beat. Perched above the Supper Club and peeping out across Parliament House, the view here is just as superb in the early hours of the morning as it is in the late afternoon. With a smart booze list that draws from the Supper Club’s enormous cellar, you’ll find a drink to either start the evening or end it.
Windsor Castle Hotel
You won’t miss the Windsor Castle on Albert Street, Windsor. If the lime-green and cherry trim doesn’t get you, the pink elephants will. It’s not subtle, exactly, but neither are its charms: the verdant beer garden with heaps of seating chief among them.
On Sunday afternoon (or post-work Fridays) the Windsor Castle lets you block out the world behind the bamboo fence, and kick back with some pals and pints of Little Creatures.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with James Squire.