Sam Hambour and Duncan Gibson, both certified viticulturists, shared a similar transition from winemaking to brewing. When each arrived at the epiphany that beer making was the way forward, a small rivalry developed between the two as their friends judged whose homebrew was superior. They eventually joined forces to create Hop Nation in Footscray. The beer that started it all for the guys at Hop Nation is the Fiend, an easy-to-drink IPA with all-Australian hops. The second release from Hop Nation is an American red called the Buzz, named after the second man on the moon, Buzz Aldrin. It has notes of pine, floral hops and spiciness. The brewery is open to the public three days a week and offers Hop Nation’s best beers on tap, as well a rotation of limited releases and collab brews. Food trucks cater for those who get peckish during their visit, otherwise you can order UberEATS to be delivered to the brewery.
The brainchild of Danielle Allen and Jayne Lewis, the former head brewer at Mountain Goat Brewery, Two Birds Brewing in Spotswood is Australia’s first female-owned brewing company. The brewery, affectionately known as the Nest, is where all the magic happens and is open for visitors four days a week. The first beer created by this duo is called Golden, which is — you guessed it — a golden ale, and has since become the brand’s signature brew. It’s refreshing and balanced with citrus and stone fruit notes and toasted malt characters, making it a great quaffer for a hot day. For something a little more complex, try the Sunset variety, which has notes of pine, grapefruit and toffee. Love Mexican food? Test out the Taco brew for something unique. Inspired by the flavours of the Mexican staple, it’s made with corn, coriander and lime.
Come for the beer and stay for the character at Moon Dog, the mad science lab of Melbourne breweries. It doesn’t cater to those easing their way into beer drinking, hoping that it actually is an acquired taste. Here, brews that will knock the socks off even the most hardened beer drinker, with unusual ingredients and creative flavour combos, is what it’s all about. This sentiment is visible in the bar space filled with quirky bits and pieces and wonderfully mismatched furniture. On the ‘regulars’ list you’ll find Moon Dog Mack Daddy, an eccentric dark ale with melon- and peach-leaning hops. Check out the special release brews, like Moon Dog Son of a Plum, a sour brew with tangy peach and plum notes. Out front, you’ll find a pizza van serving its hungry patrons.
If you want your brewery experience to focus as much on eating as drinking, Temple Brewing is the perfect spot. It produces arguably some of Melbourne’s most popular beers, but the onsite restaurant also serves tasty burgers, delicious share plates and more to keep patrons well-fed as they enjoy a brew or two. The Bicycle Beer, which is light enough that you can still ride home after drinking a couple, is a popular choice, with its subtle overtones of summer fruits. If German beer is your style try the Powerstance, a full-bodied pilsner made with German hops. If you want to see where your beer comes from while you’re enjoying a pint and a meal, you can. Head to the top level for a view of the vats while you enjoy the end product.
The Mountain Goat story began in the backyard of David Bonighton in the early nineties. He and his friend Cam Hines were inspired to bring the great beer they experienced during each of their travels back to Melbourne, and began brewing their own. Mountain Goat beers grew in popularity — so much so the pair were able to open their own brewery in Richmond. These days, it’s owned by beer giant Asahi, but maintains the core of what Hines and Bonighton, who is still a part of the business, created. The brew that started it all for Mountain Goat is Hightail, an English-style amber ale that has strong malt characters and subtle fruitiness. For something a little more modern, try the Fancy Pants brew, which is an evolution of Hightail and has a spicier twist. Mountain Goat also brews limited-edition beers you can enjoy along with pizzas on the days the brewery is open to the public.
Brunswick hotspot Thunder Road Brewery has been around since 2009 and allows its patrons to drink among the fermentation tanks, so beer is literally brewed around you. It truly is a place for beer lovers. Out back, you’ll find the Keith Deutsher Library, named after the notable beer historian, where there are photos, bottles and memorabilia, all of it significant in Melbourne’s beer-making history. Thunder Road is home to the renowned pale ale Brunswick Bitter, made with fruity Australian hops. For something sweeter give one of the limited releases a whirl, like the Tutti Frutti, which is inspired by fruit salad. What it lacks in bitterness is made up for with its fruity, sherbet-like taste. Pair your beverage with some beer-friendly snacks like chicken wings, croquettes or dimmies, and you’re set.