Melbourne CBD's very own one stop shop for beer, comprising brewery, multiple bars and restaurants all under one roof – not to mention a rooftop terrace with the roof removed. The former Portland Hotel became The Crafty Squire in 2015, following a major refit and expansion upstairs into rooms formerly used for a strip clubs and storage. It features one of James Squire's fully operational Brewhouses in one corner of a main bar that pours the brewery's full range plus one-offs and seasonals brewed in house, making it what we like to think of as a gateway venue – the sort of place you can bring a newcomer to craft beer and take them from a gentle introduction to more full-flavoured beers.
The specials brewed in-house vary from those that offer different levels of US-inspired hoppiness to stouts and wheat beers. Every time a new one is launched, often to tie in with a major sporting event or city wide festival, anyone signed up to the hotel's mailing list is invited to come and sample for free before they go on general sale.
Other than the beers, the bars are popular for people grabbing a bite to eat from the extensive menu of pub classics and those wanting to catch sport on the many TVs and large screen. Since expanding, the restaurant at street level has been reinvented more for casual dining while upstairs houses a more formal restaurant, an expansive bar area, a comfy lounge and the aforementioned rooftop terrace, a rustic affair created, it seems, as much by stripping the building back to its basics then popping in some furniture.
Located inside one of Melbourne's old hotels – a building with a long history both as a pub and, prior to the James Squire Brewhouse being installed in 2001, as one of Melbourne's original "gentlemen's clubs", Santa Fe – it offers brewery tours and hosts live entertainment throughout the week. Newcomers can work their way through the taps with one of the six-beer tasting paddles, while there are regular beer dinners too. The Crafty Squire is also a key venue during the Melbourne International Comedy Festival.