Look, we know Perth is the best city in Australia for craft beer (OK, we may be a little biased), but Melbourne is definitely up there for urban breweries and bars serving the latest and greatest beer.
To get a taste for what Melbourne has to offer, two members of the Beer Is OK team flew over for a few days to visit some of the best bars and breweries close to the Melbourne CBD. Deciding on where we would visit in the morning of each day left the day open to adventure. With many of the locations being close by, a quick walk or uber was all we needed to stop at multiple locations.
Overall, every single place we visited, we enjoyed. Melbourne has many small bars which are cozy and welcoming, plus some larger bars and breweries that could hold large groups.
Stop one on the first day, we stopped in to Hopscotch Urban Beer Bar for lunch.
The large open venue right on the Yarra River was the perfect spot for a glass of craft beer and a delicious lunch. The bar wrapped around the venue, with a large sports screen in the outdoor seating area. It’s very open which allows a nice breeze to flow through the venue.
One of the most unique parts of Hopscotch is rather than ordering from the bar, you place your order by scanning a QR code and ordering online. It a similar ordering system to Uber Eats or Deliveroo, with the friendly staff delivering the food and beverages right to your table.
Overall, the food and drinks were delicious! A great way to start out Melbourne beer crawl.
Ponyfish Island, now this is a venue you would not find in Perth!
Wrapped around a pillar in the Yarra River, Ponyfish island is a small bar fitting it to an often untapped piece of land (or should we say water). To enter, you need to cross half-way over a pedestrian bridge and walk down steps to a few small tables and miniature bar setup. This venue is super unique but unfortunately, we forgot to grab a pic of the venue from a far. Luckily, a quick Google search and you’ll see it in all its glory.
Ponyfish even have their own Lager which was very easy drinking and perfect for the warm summer day. After downing a few, we moved on to the next location.
A bit out on its own, Burnley Brewing is a nice open brewery/bar with a huge selection of their beer range on tap.
The venue included an outdoor seating area, some bar tables and booths for small groups. Burnley Brewing also built their venue to showcase their brewery equipment, which gave it an authentic brewery feel. We tried a few of their higher-strength beers and they were delicious.
Burnley Brewing’s beer is yet to be found in Western Australia (we’ll we’re yet to find it). Hopefully we start seeing their craft beers more often!
We had heard great things about Stomping Ground’s Beer Hall, but unfortunately it was not meant to be.
Although we can’t give a review as we weren’t able to enter the venue, we thought we’d include it in this list as we will be visiting next time we are in Melbourne.
You hear that Stomping Ground? You broke our heart ?. But we will be back!
Day two in Melbourne.
Beermash is home to the creative and flat out awesome beermashtiles.
Behind the small bar is a wall of tiles highlighting their craft beer selection sourced from local breweries. Each tile is individually painted and showcase the wacky and wonderful taste and profile behind each beer.
This is a must visit for craft beer lovers in Melbourne and from abroad. It’s also located just a stones throw from other bars, so make sure to include it in your Melbourne beer crawl.
We were a bit confused about the reasoning behind the name ‘Slowbeer’, that was, until we walked upstairs.
Slowbeer is a super welcoming, warm and cozy bar just down the road from Beermash. The bottom level has a tasting room with just a couple of taps, but head upstairs and it becomes a loungeroom with large sofas and a pool table.
There was also a small room next door with a retro console and TV. Definitely worth stopping in for a beer or two.
The final destination on day two, Near & Far Bar opened recently and features a whopping 18 taps of independent craft beer, plus a large fridge stocked to the brim.
Many of the beers on the list we’d never heard before, with many having unique names that were somewhat hard to pronounce. Luckily, each tap had its own number which made ordering that little bit easier.
The selection of beer speaks for itself. No matter your taste and style, you will find it on tap (or in the fridge) at Near & Far Bar.
Beer Selection on The Qantas Flight Home
I wanted to include a section here about the beer selection on a Qantas flight as we felt it was a bit lackluster. While the beer was free on the flight, so we really shouldn’t complain, they were very average, and the selection could be improved.
Qantas have a bidding system where you can bid to win a seat in Business Class. Luckily, my bid won, and I got upgraded. All I could think about is all the delicious beer they must receive up front. Unfortunately not.
On the flight back from Melbourne to Perth, you have the selection of:
- James Squire 150 Lashes
- James Boag’s Premium
- Hahn Premium Light
Now, I didn’t want to make judgement without at least first tasting the beer’s available. Therefore, one by one I worked through the list of three beers.
The James Squire 150 Lashes, as many beer enthusiasts would likely agree, was OK but nothing to special.
The James Boag’s Premium was a very subpar beer and again, nothing too interesting.
Finally, the Hahn Light was even less enjoyable, plain and boring, likely assisted by the low alcohol content.
Look, again I shouldn’t really complain when the beer does not have an additional cost above the flight costs, but I feel the shift we’ve seen in most bars and clubs to craft beer could and should soon be mimicked by airlines. Qantas would be an even more enjoyable flight if they stocked some craft beers from local Australian breweries.
So… Where Next?
Australia really is home to some to some amazing breweries, and while we might be a bit biased and say Perth has some of the best, we love travelling our great country in the search for amazing venues, breweries and bars. Leave a comment below and let us know where we should visit next. If you live in Melbourne (or have recently visited) and have some recommendations on places we may have missed, let us know.