It can be a hard task opening a new venue on Smith Street, where craft beer is almost a given on every tap list and people are settled in to their neighbourhood local. But Slowbeer entered the fray in September 2016 with the distinct advantage of having their reputation precede them.
Over the last seven years, the Slowbeer brand has brought craft beer to the inner east, first in Hawthorn and then, from 2012, at their Richmond location. With shelves and fridges packed with beer from across Australia, New Zealand and further afield, the bottleshop-cum-neighbourhood bar has gained quite the following among Richmond locals and beer lovers alike. But, with the closure of stablemate Two Row Bar in August 2016, the time came for Slowbeer to expand its domain into Fitzroy.
Owner Chris Menichelli quickly converted the closed bar into a space that evokes the nature of its Richmond counterpart, thanks to the small tap list, wooden shelves, and affinity for charcuterie and toasted sandwiches. But, with the added benefit of a second floor, Slowbeer Fitzroy has settled in to the Smith Street scene easily, offering a pool table upstairs for casual evenings, ample space for friends to gather, and enough wiggle room to host beer events or launches, as they did in their very first week with the launch of a Hop Nation beer at both venues simultaneously.
For the most part, bottle stock remains the same across both shops to ensure you can pick up that limited release, no matter which store you find yourself close to. But tap lists vary, ensuring that Fitzroy and Richmond are given scope to host tap takeovers, small beer events and other specialties as best suits. If it’s a sours event at one and you’re in need of hops, the other should still serve you well.
Along the walls downstairs, the beer range mirrors that of Richmond, with dedicated space for Kiwi breweries such as 8 Wired, Garage Project, and Kereru, as well as a strong line in American, Belgian and German brews. The locals are by no means neglected, with plenty of space left for the likes of Exit, BrewCult, 3 Ravens and Bridge Road.
Growlers are available to take home your favourite tipple from the five taps, and it is a consideration worth making when they regularly feature special releases from breweries far and wide.
With the benefit of five taps at the bar and just a small corkage fee on any of the selected bottle stock, it’s an easy place to settle into for an afternoon. Add a pork and fennel toastie and you might as well call it dinner and crack open another bottle.