A major change of tack has seen one of Melbourne's Irish pubs – formerly better known for craic than craft – switch the focus of its 19 taps to craft beer and redesign its food menu with beer pairing in mind.
The Pint on Punt, in Windsor, reopened its doors as The Windsor Alehouse in April 2016 to unveil a new fit out, new menu, and a total reworking of its beer offerings, which had previously leant heavily on the likes of Guinness and big brewery lagers. In an area that has traditionally been short on craft beer – in stark contrast to the other side of the Yarra – the WAH (as it’s affectionately known) becomes one of a growing handful of southside venues to follow the path long trodden by The Local Taphouse in amping up the range of quality drops on offer.
The change in approach has proved fruitful for the Alehouse team, attracting a broader customer base than the backpacker-filled nights of its former guise, and opening up opportunities to work with local breweries. Across 19 taps, a couple of mainstream lager mainstay still pour and Guinness remains, but most of the space is dedicated to the local and the crafty.
The food menu is one of refined pub offerings, including an impressively broad array of burgers and myriad options for anyone looking for a pub meal free from meat or gluten. The list of bar snacks are impressive too, with all of them being house made creations courtesy of the kitchen team, including an ever-changing roster of beef jerky.
The upstairs accommodation remains in place for any backpackers keen on a bed conveniently close to a bar, and the dining area now pays homage to the venue’s craftier direction, with beer themed wall décor and a large fireplace that lends the bar an inviting cosy feel. Televisions spread throughout also see the pub easily fill during any big game, whether it’s AFL or World Series Poker.
As a location, it’s still one that attracts both locals and many an Irish expat, so visitors shouldn’t be too surprised to find someone in the same spot on returning journeys. Those regulars are often featured on the WAH’s Facebook page and the WAH app (with both Apple and Android versions) offers deals for anyone who’s frequently walks through those doors.
Owner Evan Mahony says switching to craft beer was an easy decision, with people now wanting more from the pint in their hands. Combine that with an audience more informed about the food on their plates, and a revamp was the best way forward.
And judging by the pumping dining room on the Friday afternoon when we visited, the change has been welcomed from the off by local office workers, families and beer lovers alike.