There's a tiny area in Melbourne's Brunswick East that's turning into something of a Mecca for craft beer lovers. First to open was the Blackhearts & Sparrows bottleshop and its neighbouring bar, Atticus Finch. In 2011, two breweries – Thunder Road and Temple – opened within a few hundred metres. And then, in the middle of 2012, came The Alehouse Project.
As the name suggests, its project is simple: the serving of ale (and a little bit of lager). And it's doing it with some panache. All of its 12 taps pour quality craft beers, almost all on rotation and regularly filled with beers not found easily – or at all – elsewhere. Predominantly, the focus is on showcasing the best and newest from the Australian craft beer scene, but you'll find the odd whopper from the States, Japan, Europe or across the Tasman cropping up too.
It's got good pedigree, set up by a team with experience at The Local Taphouse in St Kilda when it went full craft a few years back and Grumpy's Green in Fitzroy. And it's got the looks, with what was formerly the Comfortable Couch stripped back to its bare brick bones, polished then filled with sturdy, beer hall like benches and tables made from reclaimed wood and the odd funky couch. The beer garden at the back that was left to become overgrown at the previous venue, has been given a serious clean out, instantly becoming a fine addition to the city's suburban options.
Aside from the beer, there's a small list of boutique wines and ciders, plus a range of cocktails, while the overhauled kitchen specialises in food that could grace the tables of any gastropub yet spiced up with some uniquely beery touches. The two elements work in unison every now and then for beer dinners too. The bar runs semi-regular events, such as the Hopfests and Dark Side of Beer takeovers, and complements the rotating tap lineup with a small but expertly curated bottle list of out there beers that you can't normally find on tap.
It's become one of the best places in Australia to find new, rare and one-off beers and has become a Pint of Origin highlight every Good Beer Week, ripping through dozens of beers from New Zealand each May.