To All My Friends

In my travels through the global craft beer world, I’ve come across many a brewery launched by people from the world of IT. It’s actually quite uncanny just how many have made the switch, yet it’s not a path many have taken when it comes to hospitality.

On the evidence of To All My Friends, the craft beer and pizza joint in the Canberra suburb of Cook, maybe it should happen more often.

In simple terms, the small venue created by IT folks Shayne Taylor and Natalie Legg punches well above its weight.

Eight taps rotate through beers from independent Aussie brewers across the country (and very occasionally abroad) and ensure guests can pick from a wide range of styles; when we called in, they covered farmhouse to IPA, hazy to fruit sour, pale and pilsner – a mix of core range and limited releases. Augmenting that is a diverse and well-curated packaged list found on a wall alongside the taps.

And then there’s the food, with a menu dedicated in the main to pizza, but also offering up an array of options suited for sharing and designed with beer in mind: charcuterie platters, wings with a selection of hearty sauces, ribs, vego options, salads if you feel like something healthier.

As for the venue itself, it’s a reasonably cosy spot, with a mix of table and (comfy leather) bar seating inside, a few spots out front and a bright and breezy beer garden at the rear that makes the best of the space available. All well and good, but why the comment that “maybe it should happen more often”?

If you were to drill the answer down to one thing, attention to detail would be my suggestion – the sort of attention to detail that’s part and parcel of a successful career in IT.

The first clues are there as you approach, namely the ornate gilt lettering on the front windows spelling out not just the venue’s name – taken from a toast by Mickey Rourke’s character in the 1987 film Barfly – but what lies in wait inside.

Then there’s the beers on offer. The tap list isn’t just balanced, but you can tell the people responsible for compiling it know their stuff, and not just the owners but also the experienced, knowledgable staff that includes qualified Cicerones and brewers among its number. There will always be beers you recognise, but they don’t just stick to the obvious beers from breweries, things evolve seasonally, and you’ll spot smaller interstate brands in the mix too.

However, it’s arguably with the pizzas that attention to detail is the greatest. Once Shayne and Natalie had agreed to take the lease on the spot adjacent to the neighbourhood café Little Oink they’d been running for years beforehand, he set off on a mission to create the perfect pizza dough. It was a mission that would see him experimenting until one or two in the morning, tweaking his recipe until he was happy.

The late nights paid off, however. Not only did the bar quickly gain a reputation far outside Cook for the quality of the pizzas, but it became a firm favourite with locals delighted such a place had sprung up in the neighbourhood shopping centre. For proof of just how To All My Friends had been embraced, look no further than the first evening they opened to offer takeaway pizzas during 2020’s COVID lockdown…

“We go so many orders we had a two-and-a-half hour wait for pizza,” Natalie recalls. “We were so grateful for the support, but it was fucking hectic!”

Not that there wasn’t the odd bump in the road getting to that point. We won’t go into full details here as it’s much better hearing it from the owners’ mouths with beer in hand, but they had an interesting time with chefs early on, to the point Shayne and their local barber did a shift in the kitchen on the opening night after one got arrested, while another got their car bogged at the side of a road before walking out mid-shift the following week.

Thankfully, such challenges are now confined to history, instead providing material for cheerily delivered anecdotes, with such cheer the other element – along with a fine selection of wines and spirits, of course – that makes the bar what it is. Shayne and Natalie might not work at To All My Friends, but their warm, infectious nature infuses the venue and its staff, and in turn the local community.

The only risk now, perhaps, would be for Shayne to take up the cry from Barfly and shout a round for all their friends as, since opening back in 2018, they appear to have made rather a lot.

Name
To All My Friends
Address

22 Cook Place
Cook
ACT 2614

Phone
(02) 6251 1699
Open Hours

Tues to Thurs: 3pm to 10pm
Friday: 3pm to 11pm
Saturday: midday to 11pm
Sunday: midday to 10pm

This is a directory listing. To find out more, head here

Regularly featured brewers

Akasha Taproom & Brewery Akasha Taproom & Brewery

Akasha Taproom & Brewery

10-12 Spencer Street
Five Dock
NSW 2046

Batch Brewing Co Batch Brewing Co

Batch Brewing Co

44 Sydenham Road
Marrickville
NSW 2204

Beerfarm Beerfarm

Beerfarm

177 Gale Road
Metricup
WA 6280

BentSpoke Brewing Co BentSpoke Brewing Co

BentSpoke Brewing Co

38 Mort Street
Braddon
ACT 2612

Blackman's Brewery Blackman's Brewery

Blackman's Brewery

26 Bell Street
Torquay
VIC 3228

Bridge Road Brewers Bridge Road Brewers

Bridge Road Brewers

Old Coach House
Ford Street
Beechworth VIC 3747

Capital Brewing Co Capital Brewing Co

Capital Brewing Co

Building 3/1 Dairy Rd
Fyshwick
ACT 2609

CoConspirators Brewing CoConspirators Brewing

CoConspirators Brewing

377 Victoria Street
Brunswick
VIC 3056

Deeds Brewing Deeds Brewing

Deeds Brewing

4 Paran Place
Glen Iris
VIC 3146

Fixation Brewing Co Fixation Brewing Co

Fixation Brewing Co

414 Smith Street
Collingwood
VIC 3066

Future Mountain Future Mountain

Future Mountain

703-707 Plenty Road
Reservoir
VIC 3073

Hargreaves Hill Hargreaves Hill

Hargreaves Hill

Factory 60
64-86 Beresford Road
Lilydale 3140

Hop Nation Hop Nation

Hop Nation

Unit 6, 107/109 Whitehall Street Footscray
VIC 3011

Hope Brewery Hope Brewery

Hope Brewery

2213 Broke Road
Pokolbin
NSW 2320

KAIJU! Beer KAIJU! Beer

KAIJU! Beer

10 Superior Drive
Dandenong South
VIC 3175

Local Brewing Co Local Brewing Co

Local Brewing Co

116 Murphy Street (Office)
Richmond
VIC 3121

Modus Operandi Modus Operandi

Modus Operandi

14 Harkeith Street
Mona Vale
NSW 2103

Mr Banks Brewing Co Mr Banks Brewing Co

Mr Banks Brewing Co

12 Hi-Tech Place
Seaford
VIC 3198

Nomad Brewing Nomad Brewing

Nomad Brewing

5 Sydenham Road
Brookvale
NSW 2100

Tallboy and Moose Tallboy and Moose

Tallboy and Moose

270 Raglan Street
Preston
VIC 3072

Tumut River Brewing Co Tumut River Brewing Co

Tumut River Brewing Co

1-5 Capper Street
Tumut
NSW 2720

Two Birds Brewing Two Birds Brewing

Two Birds Brewing

136 Hall Street
Spotswood
VIC 3015

Wayward Brewing Co Wayward Brewing Co

Wayward Brewing Co

3 Gehrig Lane
Camperdown
NSW 2050

Wildflower Wildflower

Wildflower

11-13 Brompton Street
Marrickville
NSW 2204

Willie The Boatman Willie The Boatman

Willie The Boatman

Suite 601, 75 Mary Street
St Peters
NSW 2044

Young Henrys Young Henrys

Young Henrys

Units D & E, 76 Wilford St
Newtown
NSW 2042