From taco-flavoured beer, to a spiced gingerbread brown ale and a beer that tastes like Redskin lollies from your childhood, they just don’t make beer like they used to in Melbourne. Home to the iconic Carlton & United Breweries, Melbourne loves a good coldie (despite the crisp weather).
While it’s all too easy to find places to sink pots and pints of mainstream beer brands, Victoria’s beer-loving capital is also a great champion of craft brewers from near and far. Whether you choose to go it alone and hunt down local craft beer-loving bars, or get some expert help (and very handy transport) from the crew at Aussie Brewery Tours, Melbourne is the place to sample some of the best, boundary-pushing brews in the world. At Moon Dog Craft Brewery, experimental brews are the order of the day. Hidden in the backstreets of Abbotsford, the Moon Dog experience is quite unlike any other in Melbourne, or Australia for that matter. Having the guts to set up their bizarre brewing enterprise right next door to the Carlton & United Breweries headquarters, these mad scientists of beer creation aren’t afraid to use highly unusual flavours and unconventional methods in the glorious pursuit of the creating some of the strangest (not to mention most delicious) beers in the world.
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An industrial space adorned with chandeliers, a poster of the Moon Dog ‘patron saint’ John Candy and a bookshelf that opens up and leads to a secret space next door, this is not your average brewery bar. Responsible for a rotating set list of unique beers like Breakfast of Champions (a Bloody Mary-flavoured ale), Splice of Heaven (a beer that tastes like a Streets Pine Lime Splice ice-cream) and the Black Lung (a super smoky imperial stout), visitors to Moon Dog are encouraged to go beyond their usual favourite flavours of frothies. With many of the Moon Dog brews packing a very high alcohol content, lucky there’s a caravan out the front that pumps out pizza when the taps are pouring.
Over in Collingwood, the self-proclaimed ‘home of last night mischief’ Forester’s Beer Hall provides 32 taps of international and local craft brews, open for business and pouring until 4am. Home to the biggest selection of local and international craft beer on tap anywhere in Australia, punters can choose from ultra-hoppy IPAs from iconic American brewery Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., fresh ales from cult Byron Bay brewers Stone & Wood, and a brew from the world’s first crowdfunded and crowdsourced beer label, Melbourne-based start-up Wisdom Brewing. A big space with a cool loft up top, live music and a menu full of salty bar snacks like mac & cheese waffles, this is the perfect place for beer lovers to unite for a night of good times and smooth brews.
The beauty of hopping on a minibus with Aussie Brewery Tours is that you can hit breweries in multiple locations across Melbourne without having to worry about saddling someone with designated driver duties or finding a cab come closing time. This came in especially handy when heading to Spotswood. It may not be Melbourne’s most happening suburb, but it’s the home of Two Birds Brewery – Australia’s first female owned brewing company. Things are pretty laid back at “The Nest” (the tasting room at Two Birds) where twelve taps deliver a range of beers from American-style Red Ales to Australian Pale Ales. The Taco Beer (a hoppy ale with fresh coriander, corn and lime notes) takes drinkers straight on a holiday to Mexico while the Jam Donut (a sweet Belgian Blonde Ale) is reminiscent of a hot jam donut bought from a donut truck at a carnival or fete. If all those flavours seem just too ‘out there’ to embrace, then the Two Birds Golden Ale is a highly drinkable, non-threatening beer guaranteed to please the masses. When it comes to beer, Melbourne has all beer bases well and truly covered!