It’s a family affair at Far Side Beers these days. The hole in the wall bottleshop that once took up residence on Burke Road in Camberwell has changed hands and, in the process, moved a kilometre down the road to a bigger space, complete with bar and beer garden.
Julien Nell had been working behind the bar in nightclubs and was desperate for a change, so when he came across Far Side Beers he knew it was the perfect fit for his vision of a neighbourhood bottleshop and bar. After a frank conversation with his parents, Florence and David, to see if they’d be keen to take on a new challenge with him, they set the wheels in motion to take over Far Side from previous owner Mairead Kennedy and her husband Colm. By August 2015 they were in, and by January 2016 they were working on the next stage: finding a new, bigger location.
Within weeks, they found a potential new venue and were full steam ahead into planning the new Far Side Beers. But, after three months of preparing for the big move, they got word from council that their plans for the new site could not go forward, and they were back to square one. Yet, within a week, they had found what they were after. On walking into the empty shop front on Burwood Road with space for a bar, and a backyard just itching to be turned into a beer garden, they knew their search was over.
By July 2016, Far Side Beers had opened anew in Hawthorn East. Back in place is the takeaway beer selection of around 200 different brews, the wooden tables, and many of the regulars who had followed from Camberwell. On top, Julien and the team have added a few more touches to ensure they quickly settled in to the new neighbourhood.
With a background in hospitality, Julien knew he wanted to install a proper bar to create a space where people would want to come in and relax with a beer or cocktail with friends. That bar now serves as the centrepiece for the front third of the venue, enticing punters to grab a seat and try one of the six beers on tap, a cocktail or something from the fridges. Wander through to the bottleshop area, and the familiar wooden table serves as the perfect spot to crack open a new beer find – or an old familiar one.
Meanwhile, the concrete slab out the back has been converted into a welcoming beer garden, complete with sky high tiger mural by local artist Steve Cross. With summer sun streaming in from above in the early evenings, it’s an addition sure to be appreciated by Hawthorn locals in need of a quiet spot for a drink.
Back in the bar, the focus remains on quality products, with beers from Victoria and beyond complemented by a range of craft spirits such as Starward, Mr Black and Four Pillars. Thanks to the skills of bartender Oli Russell, formerly of Mamasita and Toko Melbourne, cocktails – including a few with a beery twist – are a key part of the Far Side menu. Six taps show off local breweries such as Bad Shepherd, Wolf of the Willows, Cavalier and Edge, while one is dedicated to Better Beer Imports, boasting the likes of Bridge Road, 8 Wired and Epic Beer.
For both Julien and his parents, learning the lay of the craft beer land has been done on the go as they met with reps, brewers and local beer lovers to determine what’s hot and what’s not in Melbourne. Former owner Mairead helped greatly, but for the most part the Nells have learnt on the job, trying and testing new styles and breweries they haven’t had before.
With more space to play and more taps to pour on, Far Side 2.0 has taken its craft beer offering up to a new level. Tap takeovers, beer influenced cocktails and no corkage to speak of make it a welcome addition to the Hawthorn community. And, thanks to an open invite to bring in your own food, the neighbouring restaurants are more than friendly too.