Crafty Pint / 18.07.12
With Melbourne seemingly acknowledged as the hotbed for Australia’s flourishing craft beer scene, there’s a good argument to be made for the pocket around Brunswick East being the hottest of the lot. In the past year, it’s gained two breweries – Temple and Thunder Road – while Atticus Finch and an outlet of Blackhearts & Sparrows sit next door just a few metres up the road. At a push, you could even include the Great Northern.
It’s an argument that’s set to get stronger this week with the official opening of the Alehouse Project smack bang in the middle of the venues mentioned above. Taking over the site of the former Comfortable Chair and giving it a serious overhaul, it will have 12 beers pouring from a custom made beer system – the part of their project the owners are proudest off, apparently – as well as a short bottle list, short wine list, beer-friendly food, a beer garden and live music on weekends. Five of the beers will be used to rotate through beers from breweries including Temple (whose own bar is so close you could trip over on your way out of the Alehouse and bang your head on the front door), Mountain Goat and Little Creatures. The other seven will showcase whatever craft beer they can get their hands on; that Mornington Peninsula Brewery’s new Russian Imperial Stout is among the lineup for Friday’s launch gives you some idea of where they’re looking.
The main driving force behind the bar comes from Andy Tynan and Alex Summers. The former has a great Melbourne craft beer pedigree, having worked at The Local Taphouse St Kilda before getting Grumpy’s Green up and running. For Alex, it’s a first step into hospitality.
“I’d been looking for a venue for a couple of years,” says Andy. “We originally found this place 18 months ago but only got hold of it five weeks ago. It had potential but was pretty run down. I’d always wanted somewhere with a beer garden and a long enough bar to do multiple taps. It was a decent sized space and had a good kitchen too.
“The aim was to create a craft beer venue on this side of the river, somewhere where we could do amazing beers. We’ve had the Moon Dog guys in and have been talking to others about some of their more interesting brews. We’ll have our lager and things like Little Creatures Pale so if you come in and have no idea what an imperial stout is it doesn’t matter – you can still have a good time.”
They’ve brought in a chef from the Newmarket Hotel in St Kilda, who has past experience of working at a brewery in New Zealand and, as such, has plenty of experience matching beer and food. Behind the bar the bottle list will be kept tight, offering a mix of the approachable and affordable (Cooper’s Pale, Sierra Nevada Pale) alongside the more exotic (Green Flash, for example). There will be just four reds and four whites and a small cocktail list.
“It feels great,” says Andy. “I can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to Friday.”
The Alehouse Project is at 98 Lygon Street, Brunswick East.