Melbourne is teeming with great craft beer bars but you need to know where to look. If you’re visiting Melbourne, or even if you’re not familiar with that particular part of Melbourne, then finding good beer isn’t always easy without a guide.
So here are some favourite beer bars, broken down by neighbourhood for ease of exploration.
Crawl 1: Crafty in the CBD
The Arbory / Beer Deluxe / The Mill House / Boilermaker House / Village Melbourne
While Melbourne’s inner city suburbs rightfully get most of the kudos for great drinking and eating places, but there’s still a few good places to be found in the city if you know where to look.
A good starting point, literally right next to the Flinders Street Station rail platforms and overlooking the Yarra River, The Arbory is a perfect spot for after-work drinks, pre-sporting event drinks, or basically drinks anytime. For this reason, it can get a bit crowded. The craft beer range is decent if nothing out-of-the-ordinary. Expect a few classic craft beers like Mornington Peninsula beers on tap and Pirate Life pale ales in cans, that will go down well with their tasty burgers.
Beer Deluxe is smack bang in the middle of Federation Square, a convenient starting point to access good beer. The beer can be a little pricey but you’ll usually find a few gems in this spacious venue with some good local craft beers on tap that you won’t easily find elsewhere.
The Mill House is a new bar on Flinders Lane that pours growlers from Sydney brewery Young Henrys and has a South American flavour to its food.
If you head up the other end of the city to Lonsdale Street, the Boilermaker House is a great beer and whiskey venue that specialises in yep you guessed it boilermakers (beer & whiskey pairings). This place can get busy and if you snag a table or booth you’ll feel more comfortable and can sample some of their charcuterie and cheese lists. With 12 taps of always interesting craft beers and some specially crafted boilermakers from their impressive whiskey selection you’ll likely stagger home from here.
But if you’re still going strong, finish off the night with voyage down to St Kilda Rd to the Village Melbourne (formerly the Belgian Beer Café), which has the best beer garden in Melbourne and a range of good craft beers from the likes of say Moo Brew and others to drink the night away.
Crawl 2: Fitzroy’s finest
Rainbow Hotel / The Catfish / Foresters Hall
The streets of Smith, Brunswick, and Gertrude in Fitzroy may just be where craft beer penetration is at its highest. Just walk along here and you’re likely to find plenty of bars and restaurants and pubs of every variety that serve decent local craft beer. It’s the one area you can freelance and still be confident you can find a beer worthy of appreciating.
But if you want a little guidance, here are a few places that I would recommend.
If you head over to Brunswick Street, up a sidestreet you’ll find The Rainbow Hotel, once a participant in Good Beer Week’s Pint of Orgin, it’s a local’s pub with an emphasis on live music best washed down with their tasty local ales.
Now head up the hill to Gertrude St, where you’ll find The Catfish for Philly cheesesteaks, more live music and more good craft beer.
Saving the best for last, head back down Gertrude to Smith St, where Foresters Hall is sure to impress with 35 taps to choose from, live music, huge TV screens and pizzas on offer. With a range like that, you’ll never want to leave.
Crawl 3: Boozy Brunswick East
The Alehouse Project / Temple Brewery / Atticus Finch / Greater Northern Hotel
Lygon St is known as Melbourne’s Italian heartland, so it’s no surprise you can find the World’s Best Pizza along here. And right across the street from there you can also find perhaps the best beer bar in the North – The Alehouse Project.
The Alehouse Project is a spacious bar with 12 taps of beer pouring out. It’s always been fairly relaxed when I’ve been there and the food always hits the spot too.
From there, head right around the corner and somewhat tucked away, you’ll find the Temple Bar and Brewery. This brewery has always had a place in my heart for not following the crowd and producing consistently great quality beers over the years. Start with their classic Saison and work you way through their range to fresh tasty beers like their Anytime IPA.
Keep heading further up Lygon St and you’ll find more great restaurants like Rumi (Lebanese) and Hellenic Republic (Greek/Cypriot), and you’ll also find Atticus Finch. A great local’s bar with only 4 beers on tap, but they’ll all be good and one or two will probably be special.
Good simple bites to eat and a cool rustic fituot with an area out back with outdoor heaters for when it’s colder.
And if you want to find more of a pub/place to watch footy – head back towards the city to Carlton. On Rathdowne St you’ll find the delightfully down-to-earth pub The Greater Northern Hotel.
A very relaxed spacious pub including a beer garden, pub classic meals, footy, and oh yeah, great beer. You tend to find some classic Australian craft beers on tap and a bevy of great US craft beers too.
Crawl 4: Raise a glass in Richmond
Slowbeer / Royston Hotel / Mountain Goat Brewery / Moon Dog Brewery
Away from the footy crowds and general hubbub of Swan St, it is possible to enjoy a relaxed Friday night after-work drinks in Richmond with good beer aplenty.
Slowbeer is primarily a bottleshop, its shelves showcasing hundreds of great craft beers, but they also have four taps pouring beers that you probably won’t find anywhere else, so stop in for a taste, and maybe tuck away a couple of bottles in your rucksack for the night’s end too.
From there, it’s a good 10 or so minute walk to The Royston Hotel, a classic pub located in the quiet backstreets of Richmond. A cosy atmosphere, sit at the bar or on an old couch, and enjoy good local craft beers on tap (including one handpump), and some quality pub staple meals.
Oh and what’s that across the road – why I believe that is Victoria’s biggest craft brewer Mountain Goat with their doors open, pizzas cooking and their own beers pouring. In a spacious but busy area at the front of their brewery warehouse, you can sample their core range and a few special rare ones (including one through a randle), in a relaxed friendly busy atmosphere.
If you still have enough stamina to push on, the Moon Dog Brewery Bar in Abbotsford is another venue in the backstreets that’s worth a venture. They too have pizzas on offer and a down-to-earth factory turned brewery bar where you can sample their zaniest beers, or their crowd pleasers, depending on your mood. Either way you want be disappointed.
So there you have it, enough Melbourne craft beer bars to keep any visitor or craft beer convert going for a while. Also be sure to check out The Local Taphouse and The Terminus, as they’re a couple of classics that are well worth a trip all on their own. Happy drinking!