Melbourne may well have been leading the craft beer charge in Australia - certainly when it comes to the number and quality of venues offering a wide range of local and imported goodies. Yet you only had to toddle over to the west to find your options severely restricted. So thanks are in order to the guys at Saboroso, the Seddon restaurant that dabbled in the craft beer world, and dabbled successfully enough to decide to open their own dedicated beer hall.
Taking over the Junction Hotel in Newport, one of those venues with a chequered past best described as colourful, they undertook a complete overhaul, turning one side into a beer hall, the other into a wine room. And, while the latter is rather lovely, complete with a curated list of boutique wines, tasty morsels and impressive murals, it's the former you want to know about. Put it this way, if you live in Melbourne's inner west, love craft beer and were feeling hard done by, suffer no more - the Junction is the answer to your prayers.
Reinvented as a bright and breezy venue with art lining the walls, tall wooden benches built by one of the owners' dads, a 16-strong all craft tap lineup that goes no more mainstream than Little Creatures Pale, a growing (predominantly Aussie) bottle list, beer food done with a simple panache, and a good-sized beer garden at the rear, it's good enough to warrant a trip by those to whom the west is foreign, uncharted territory. What's more, they've got one mother of a pizza oven they imported from Italy that rises like a diplodocus' hump on one side of the kitchen.
There are regular Wednesday night tastings (wine tastings take place on Thursdays), while you can embark on your own impromptu sampling sessions by ordering a tasting paddle of any of the beers on tap. The paddles are also made by the owner's dad, this time from leftover bits of the furniture, a nice touch in keeping with the attention to detail that should stand the Junction in good stead in the battle for Melbourne's western front.
The venue was enhanced further still in the summer of 2012/13 with the opening of Grindlay, a new bar in the freshly painted old band room out the back. It means room for four more taps, some beautiful long dining tables and heaps of comfy couches so more space not just for regular punters but also for large bookings and functions too.