A classic inner suburban corner pub with a colourful history, Fitzroy's Rainbow Hotel had been getting a little tatty around the edges until the King brothers moved in back in late 2010. You wouldn't know it now, as they wasted little time bringing experience gained from running pubs here and in the UK to bear and soon turned their new haunt into one of the finest pubs – and we mean a real pub – you'll find anywhere in Australia.
As soon as they were through the door, a major overhaul took place - the old bar was reshaped and the band area moved to make the main bar more spacious; the beer garden was given a serious cleanup, a new lick of paint, decking and a swanky serving hatch to the bar; and much polished timber and beer memorabilia was added throughout - the result is a pub that offers more than a nod to traditional UK boozers.
They've continued to enhance the Rainbow ever since, whether that's been with the function room upstairs or the expanded beer garden, which is one of the city's best and most loyally attended.
On the beer front, there's ten rotating taps and around 100 beers from Australia and overseas in the fridge. Longstanding Melburnian beer lovers would know Adam and Jason from their previous venue, the Lambs Go Bar that used to be one of the city's very few good beer joints when they ran it, just off Smith Street a few blocks away. And the 101 Club that operated there is alive at the Rainbow.
Work your way through a hundred different beers and Beer 101 awaits; the holy grail is a six pint monster filled with a tap beer of your choosing, while your name goes up in lights on an honour board above the bar and full membership entitles you to regular discounts and specials.
Food is of a quality well above standard pub fare, with Sunday roasts something of a local legend, while there's live music on weekends and Beer Appreciation Nights on Thursdays, when all main courses come matched with a complimentary pint or bottle of beer.
There's function packages on offer if you're planning a special occasion, from the 80 capacity upstairs space complete with its own taps to smaller setups in the main bar and dining room, too.
In an age where good beer is becoming increasingly part of everyday vernacular and specialist beer bars are popping up across the country, the Rainbow is a reminder that good beer is just part of what makes a venue work. Here, the excellent offerings on tap are one element of a greater whole, within venue that belongs in the lineage of pubs and inns stretching back centuries. And why not? If it ain't broke...