Baby Mammoth isn’t your typical craft beer bar. For one thing, it’s not a bar but a restaurant. And it’s one in which its owners and their staff mix cocktails featuring their own beer reductions and vermouths and where you'll find yourself enjoying modern, African inspired food.
Yet, if you’re looking for a diverse range of high quality beers served by people who care about what you’re drinking, you’ll struggle to find a more “typical” craft beer bar that does it better.
Ryan and Tania Lambson opened Baby Mammoth in September 2013 and set about building a reputation for delicious food and excellent service. At the same time, they laid the groundwork for their intended future beer-centric direction by hosting beer dinners with Mane Liquor while they applied for their liquor licence.
It wasn’t until September 2015 that they were granted their license, which allowed them to install three beer taps on the bar. It’s not many in number but, thanks to a policy of constant rotation, those three have been put to good use ever since. And what’s on tap is just a small part of the Baby Mammoth beer offering: much of the fun is to be found in the fridges…
A couple of large chalkboards on the walls reveal an extensive beer list that maintains a balance between affordable and approachable with those likely to catch the eyes of beer geeks. It’s a list that changes weekly, sometimes daily, and. in its relentlessly high quality, offers an instant insight into Ryan and Tania’s beer credentials: they know and appreciate good beer and want to make sure you do too.
There’s a strong focus on Australian beers – a reflection of a desire to support local. And seasonality plays a significant part in shaping the list too: they’re keen to stock what’s fresh, which is how they approach their food menu. Indeed, for Baby Mammoth, food and beer are intertwined.
Ryan was born and raised in South Africa and the flavours of that upbringing influence the menu heavily via dishes that, for the most part, are designed to share. There’s a strong focus on spices, all blended in house, while the first Tuesday of each month sees them host a Chef Lab event. Here, customers sit down to three dishes, each the creation of a different chef and not found on the standard menu. At the end of the night, diners cast a vote for their favourite.
There’s a short but well curated wine list available as well as a range of beer cocktails. These all feature a house made beer reduction or vermouth created specifically for each cocktail: the Berliner Martini with a Berliner Weisse vermouth, for example, or Malt Fashioned with a Feral Karma Citra vermouth at its heart.
If you appreciate good taste in music, you’re in for a treat too. Ryan is a sound engineer by trade and brings his eclectic tastes to the evolving soundtrack at Baby Mammoth; the venue’s name is borrowed from a British hip hop act and the eagle-eyed among you will notice the lengths to which he’s gone to maximise the acoustics of the small space. Add in colourful murals that wouldn’t be out of place at a psytrance festival in the bush and you really do have a venue that wants to satisfy your every sense.
Baby Mammoth shows that a restaurant can make craft beer work in harmony with a comprehensive and lively food menu – and that you don’t necessarily need dozens of taps and a wall of fridges to be a high quality beer venue. Here, the beer is more than just another drink on the table, it is the drink on the table.