Pete Walsh and the team behind Bodriggy Brewing Co aren’t phased by big projects. Standing in their future 1500 square metre brewpub in early 2017 – at the time filled with cars from neighbouring businesses using it as parking space – Pete rattled off the plans for the Abbotsford building. Brewhouse over here, beer garden here, rooftop garden bar up there.
And, as of August 2019, the project is reality – well, most of it anyway, with the brewery in place at the rear cranking out beers and the main venue finally able to welcome customers. It might have taken longer than planned but we're pretty sure you'll find it worth the wait: the reimagined former Auto LP conversion warehouse is one of the most spectacular brewery venues you'll find anywhere in Australia.
It’s licensed to fit 424 people, is filled with booths, tables, a bar that pours beer (some directly from four towering serving tanks) and an array of other drinks, plus a full kitchen. And the attention to detail is breathtaking.
Determined to hold onto the building's heritage, the team salvaged old lights, reused materials when they could, and hired someone Pete calls a “guru” metal worker to design parts of the bar from scrap. Just take a look at the metalwork overhead or the sliding doors leading to the brewery and it's quickly apparent it's a labour of love – and less of a surprise, perhaps, that it's opened a few months later than planned.
When the final pieces are in place, there will be 62 taps all up once the upstairs function space is finished and more than 20 drinks on tap, including wines from Hop Nation and Garage Project. Cocktails and spirits are a big focus, as the nigh on ceiling high back bar makes clear, with a tequila and mezcal range to match the food coming out of the kitchen.
Going back to the beginning, much like the way in which the name of Dr Morse was influenced by a mural discovered on a wall of their new venue while it was under construction, Bodriggy draws its name from the building it inhabits too. While the lettering above the entrance offers up its former life as an auto service centre, it once served as a stonemasons villa, known as Bodriggy Villa, and that name can still be found on the roof of the building. It seemed fitting to follow the approach taken before them and name their new brewery after a piece of history too, particularly as a desire to celebrate the local community runs through everything they do.
Take as an example Speccie Juice, the session IPA brewed with inner north neighbours The Old Bar and its football team The Unicorns. It’s the kind of collaboration that fits with Pete’s priority that Bodriggy needs to be first and foremost an authentic Abbotsford space where anyone is welcome, one that just so happens to make its own beer. Take a look at the Speccy Juice cans and you'll find their blazed mascot meandering past all manner of local references.
In a city with so many emerging breweries, having a strong connection to the community around you seems to be evermore important. That's clearly the case for Bodriggy and, while it's taken them a while longer to open their doors than planned, that they're a welcome addition to the fast-growing craft beer hub of inner north Melbourne is in no doubt.