Melbourne has a habit of ensuring restaurants, bars and pubs never rest on their laurels, with a cooler, fancier or more exciting venue seemingly always on the verge of opening just down the road. In such a city, adaptation and evolution are the best ways to keep yourself on the radar.
This is a method well and truly adopted by Beermash on Smith Street in Collingwood, where the store that was formerly dedicated purely to growlers (and a small selection of packaged products) added a full takeaway section, and a bar, then focused on ensuring it was always stocked with some of Australia and the world's most sought after beers.
Beermash originally opened towards the end of 2014 offering takeaway beer, cider, kombucha and the like from its 20 taps before, a year later, owners Kieran Hennessy and Shayne Dixon set about adding new dimensions. The space was converted into a bar and bottleshop befitting its location on one of Melbourne's most popular strips, and now you can pull up a stool at the bar or in the street and drink in too.
Growlers are still a part of what they do, but the vision widened – as well as the option to drink in, the packaged beer selection has grown steadily; the fridges at the front heave with beers from around Australia and further afield, with shelves beyond showcasing an equally diverse and colourful selection.
Finding out what's pouring is a little like encountering a comic book; the lime green tiles behind the bar are decorated with equally vivacious drawings detailing the latest and greatest on tap. It's a selection that changes regularly and in which staff are only too keen to pair the classics with the on trend and the outrageous – whatever the price point, the Beermash following is loyal and trusting enough to wade in with confidence.
Perhaps the best example is the way the team embraces their part of Pint of Origin during Good Beer Week. They asked to become the home for Scandinavian brewers, went about sourcing scores of air-freighted, rarely-seen 20 litre kegs from the likes of Omnipollo, and found their bar filled as if it was Friday evening on Tuesday arvos with punters from across the country thinking little of spending $20 on a 150ml pour of a barrel-aged imperial stout.
While the area was hardly starved for good beer options before Beermash opened, the venues has helped turn Collingwood and surrounds – not to mention the epic 86 tram route – into a genuine destination for craft beer lovers in the know. Whether it's the other bars or bottleshop hybrids that have followed, or the growing number of breweries within a kilometre or two, visitors to the area are spoilt for choice. Yet we can almost certainly guarantee they'll still find something they won't find at any of the others at Beermash.