Melbourne has always been a city packed with good pubs and, more recently, it’s wholeheartedly embraced small breweries too. Nowhere is that more evident than in the city’s inner north, where good pubs line backstreets and breweries have taken over industrial areas.
Clifton Hill Brewing combine those two excellent elements of Melbourne under one roof, with the welcoming venue housing one of the country’s most tightly tucked away breweries. Although the pub itself is well over a century old, it’s been flying the brewpub flag since 2013, when the family who own and operate it decided to refresh the Queens Parade Hotel while retaining its history.
It means the pub still does much of what it’s long done well: quality pub fare and live music on weekends remain cornerstones of the corner watering hole. But at its heart sits a 800-litre microbrewery that’s surrounded by windows, meaning inquisitive heads frequently peer in to see how the beer in their glass is being made.
Indeed, we’re not kidding when we say the brewery space is incredibly tight: the entire system sits inside an impossibly tiny room that makes moving malt around and canning days a constant game of Tetris. Those beers pour across the pub’s 18 taps, with the core range made up of six somewhat approachable beers and the limited releases allowing the brewers a chance to run wild. But whether it’s a limited release or the brewery’s longstanding Dark Ale or a brand new double IPA, the fact that beer is served mere metres from where it’s made is an awfully strong indicator of freshness.
Since early 2023, their beers have spread their wings further afield following the relaunch of their core range in cans. Their design and Clifton Hill Brewing’s logo were inspired by the pub’s stunning ornate windows that have long watched over the beer drinkers within its four walls. Arguably one of the best places to buy them is from the brewpub’s own drive-thru bottleshop, which features a wide selection of craft beer brewed far outside the pub’s four walls too.
As a true local, the family-run pub is the kind of place that regularly fills with locals but its historic charm and ambience has the kind of power to turn first-time visitors into frequent patrons. There’s a variety of spots in which to enjoy a beer within the pub itself, including the front bar and dining room, and there are fantastic people-watching spots along Queens Parade.
Like the beer, the expansive food menu changes throughout the year, but step in for a meal and you’ll always be welcomed by classic pub fare, including dishes that feature beer as an ingredient.
In a city bursting with beer, pubs and breweries, you'll often hear people talk about the need to do something new, to offer a point of difference. But there's also a lot to be said for centuries-old traditions and by ensuring the food is served hot, the beer is fresh and interesting, and the welcome is warm, Clifton Hill Brewing nails what has long made local pubs and breweries good locals.