A café and providore in Melbourne’s outer southeast might seem like an unlikely spot in which to share a limited release, barrel-aged beer. But, the more you learn about Alice Rebel’s, the more it makes sense.
Located a short walk from Chelsea station and a salt spray from the beach, the Lewis Carroll-inspired venue first opened its doors in August 2015 with a focus was on café essentials. Coffee, baked eggs, smashed avo, takeaway jams and sauces – it was such things for which the locals who became regulars came to know – and love – Alice Rebel’s.
Go back in time and you’d have found beer playing a big role in the lives of the couple behind the café. Meg and Matt Anderson always believed that leading people down the rabbit hole of good beer – like the titular character in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland – would be part of their future.
Meg had worked with beer from her very first job with Coopers in her home city of Adelaide. Since then, her career has taken in roles as a beer rep and running bottleshops, connecting her with the growing number of local breweries in Melbourne’s southeast as well as the area’s craft beer-loving community. Within that beer community was Matt, initially a regular customer of Meg’s who shared a similar passion for craft beer.
Thus, in September 2018, now working together and with a full liquor licence in hand, the providore side of the business took on a new meaning; now Alice Rebel’s food and coffee offering is augmented by an impressive selection of craft beer, spirits and independent wine.
The bar’s three taps rotate through some of the more accessible crafty offerings on the market today – from pales to XPAs to pilsners – while the beer fridge is one to rival plenty of bottleshops. It’s here you’ll find new releases, as well as some rarer offerings, where Boatrocker’s Wild Apricot Ale sits next to storied Belgians like Chimay.
As for the side of the business with which Alice Rebel’s originally made its name, depending on the time you call in you can pick from brunch classics, burgers, sandwiches and pies during the day; then, in the later hours, expect to find customers sharing charcuterie boards and other beer-friendly accompaniments. The menu is particularly vegan friendly, too, with the house-made “Facon” having garnered something of a cult following among locals.
Taken together, it makes Meg and Matt’s approach one that’s unique and appealing – particularly given the beachside suburb of Chelsea has little in the way of watering holes and even less to offer when it comes to enjoying a good local beer.
Indeed, so appealing is their ethos and the bright and breezy space they've created at Alice Rebel's that, even in parts of Melbourne already awash in craft beer, we’d wager a café offering similar diversity and quality across the board would still find plenty eager to follow its owners down the rabbit hole.