Urban Alley Brewery

Early in 2016, a beer called Once Bitter Urban Ale first appeared in bars across Melbourne under the Collins Street Brewing banner. It was the first release from a brewing company created by Ze'ev Meltzer, who'd decided it was time to start leaving the corporate life behind and switch focus.

The journey from there to the launch of his brewery venue more than two years later was, like many in the beer world, a rather long and windy one. The original plan was to find a site in Collins Street itself, in the heart of the Melbourne’s CBD. But, when that proved impossible, focus was instead trained on a part of the city where there was a dearth of local brewing: District Docklands, home of the Melbourne Star.

The area had previously been known as Harbour Town and, when it became District Docklands in 2017, the intention was to give people more reasons to visit. And, in this day and age, what better way to entice visitors than offering them the chance to enjoy a locally brewed beer? Thus, the Collins Street Brewing team – by this stage also going by a new name, Urban Alley Brewery – took over the old Harbour Town Hotel, opening the doors to the public for the first time in the second half of 2018.

The venue, located beneath the Melbourne Star, is an expansive one comfortably capable of hosting more than 500 people. Despite its size, the fact it’s a working brewery is impossible to miss given the stainless steel is visible from almost any seat inside the bar.

Often, it’s a space that swells with Melbourne’s tourists, although with plenty of offices in the area and an increasing number calling Docklands home, you’re just as likely to find someone heading in for a knock-off drink or a sneaky beer on the way home. On weekends in particular it’s become a popular spot for families, with parents keen to end a day’s shopping in the adjacent malls with a freshly tapped beer and modern pub fare.

By the time the brewpub opened, the business had also grown too, with Ze'ev taking on new business partners and the Urban Alley beers starting to spread into Melbourne's many bottleshops and bars. In the second half of 2019, Ze'ev left the business but the brewery has continued its focus on bringing local beer to the people of Docklands and getting Urban Alley into hands further afield too.

Like many breweries large and small, old and new, Urban Alley isn’t just looking to produce beer for the local market, but is aiming to do so sustainably. Its green credentials are bolstered by the ability to treat water onsite and by being the first brewing company in Australia to use E6PR six-pack holder rings made of recycled material that can be composted once you’ve finished your beer too.

If you pick up a six-pack, you'll be able to choose from a core range made up of four approachable beers: their Urban Ale, American pale, Helles style lager and English brown. Or you can look at the brewery’s limited release seasonals, the Alley series, where head brewer Shaya Rubinstein has a little more space in which to experiment and where you’ll often find saisons, fruit-infused and heavily-hopped beers too.

As Australia’s local beer scene continues to spread its wings and encroach ever more into the mainstream, breweries are moving beyond industrial warehouses and regional towns and into all manner of unlikely locations. Locations such as Urban Alley: brewing underneath a giant ferris wheel in the heart of a tourist-friendly retail district.

Will Ziebell

Name
Urban Alley Brewery
Address

G09/12 Star Circus
Docklands
VIC 3008

Phone
(03) 8080 9800
Open Hours

Midday to late

Tours

Weekdays only

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Urban Alley Brewery Regulars

Urban Alley Urban Ale

Urban Ale is a beer that sits in that broad category that can probably best be thought of as an English summer ale or a golden ale. It’s light and refreshing, with a pale golden and light-flavoured malt body and a slight citrus hop character. In other words, if you’ve got a friend with a lifetime commitment to a single brand of Australian domestic lager who you’re keen to introduce to today's broader beer world, this might well be the place to start. Will Ziebell… Read more
Style
Golden Ale
ABV
4.5%

Urban Alley Lager

For Urban Alley's core range lager, the brewers have restricted themselves to a single hop and single malt – pilsner malt and German Hersbrucker hops. In other words, it's one where the style's traditional roots rather than New World twists are to the fore. It's a combination that imparts some floral and spice aromas stop a lightly sweet malt backbone. Will Ziebell… Read more
Style
Munich Helles
ABV
4.7%

Urban Alley Dark

Inspired by the beers of England’s north – the Newcastle region in particular – Urban Dark is Urban Alley’s take on the classic brown ales popularised there. Pouring a dark brown, it’s a beer with biscuity malts and a slight nuttiness combined with some coffee and chocolate. By making use of the one of the cornerstone hops of English brewing, East Kent Goldings, and combining it with one of the original American varieties, Willamette, you'll pick up a light floral side to an otherwise… Read more
Style
Dark Ale
ABV
5.4%

Urban Alley APA

Is there a style found in more craft breweries' lineup than their take on an American pale ale? Unlikely, given Sierra Nevada Pale's impact on the beer scene in the States and then in those countries, like Australia, that followed in its wake. It makes plenty of sense too, given the style that helped drive the American craft beer revolution can be so broadly appealing and also allows brewers a reasonably blank canvas upon which to create their own. For Urban Alley, they've created one with a light… Read more
Style
American Pale Ale
ABV
5.5%

Urban Alley All Nighter

All Nighter is Urban Alley’s midstrength, a beer designed for a day spent at a music festival or alternatively, a late-night watching your favourite band. Presumably, there are many other occasions you can drink it, I just absolutely love drinking sessionable and hoppy beers while watching bands. Added to the Dockland’s brewery’s core range in 2020, that’s exactly what All Nighter is; a 3.5 percent ABV beer with slight floral notes plus flavours of fresh mandarin and peach. Brewed with oat… Read more
Style
Mid-Strength Session Ale
ABV
3.5%

Urban Alley Slapshot

Joining Urban Alley’s core lineup in 2020 is the Aussie Pale Ale, Slapshot. It’s a style that means many different things for many different people and for the Dockland’s brewery, it means packing a punch with new world hops and giving it a reasonable malt base to balance things out. Pouring orange, Slapshot hits with a big whack of citrus and then is joined by passionfruit, mango and pine before finishing with a building bitterness. Will Ziebell… Read more
Style
Aussie Pale Ale
ABV
4.5%

Urban Alley Brewery Specials

Urban Alley The Rubinstein & Fire In The Hole

Tapped May 18, 2021
Urban Alley have two autumnal releases out for 2021 and they’re the type of beers that manage to suit both the sunny and the tremendously cold days the season brings in Melbourne. For the slightly warmer afternoons, there’s The Rubinstein, a Belgian-style sour red ale named for the brewery’s longtime head brewer, Shaya Rubinstein. Having used American oak to make the beer, it's that character that really leads the charge with a real depth of palate weight and big notes of vanilla filling the… Read more
Style
Sour Red Ale & Baltic Porter
ABV
4.9% & 5.9%

Urban Alley Pear She Gose

Tapped October 29, 2020
Greeting Melbourne’s warmer weather and renewed freedom are Urban Alley with a fruited kettle sour named Pear She Gose. Made with both pear and ginger and pouring a hazy yellowish orange, it’s a beer that packs quite the whack of ginger too. The latter mixed with pear immediately brought to my mind a home-cooked pear cake but that's not to say the beer is in any way sweet. Quite the opposite, in fact:, it's very dry and that dryness combined with Pear She Gose's tart edge brings proceedings… Read more
Style
Gose
ABV
5.3%
Bitterness
12 IBU

Urban Alley American Barleywine 2019 & 2020

Tapped October 14, 2020
Most of the time, you’ll find Urban Alley’s releases in either jet black or glistening white cans, but when you turn to barrel-ageing barleywines, it’s always a good idea to do something special. The special in this case is 500ml bottles that are individually numbered; the Docklands brewery even have two vintages of their American Barleywine available at once, both of which have spent months in bourbon barrels. The 2019 release weighs 9.9 percent ABV, pours a deep copper and is filled with… Read more
Style
Barrel-Aged Barleywine
ABV
9.9% & 10.1%

Urban Alley Alley Dangler & Dreaming Of Summer

Tapped October 12, 2020
Following on from the prior releases, Man-Goes Nowhere and Long Beach Dreamsicle, it looks like the team at Urban Alley still wishes they were elsewhere (and who can blame them) as Melbourne’s lockdown rumbles on like a question from Peta Credlin. The returning Alley Dangler, first brewed in March 2020, aims to transport us to the German town of Bamberg and the rauchbiers upon which this smoked amber lager is closely modelled. Using Australian wood-smoked malt, it’s impressive just how closely… Read more
Style
Rauchbier & Kveik Pale Ale
ABV
5.4% & 5.2%

Urban Alley Man-Goes Nowhere & Long Beach Dreamsicle

Tapped September 11, 2020
Spring 2020 sees two new beers arrive from Urban Alley’s limited run Alley Series, both of which manage to capture what Melburnians are up to and where we’d like to be. First up, there's Man-Goes Nowhere, an “isolation sour ale” featuring mango and passionfruit. It’s also dry-hopped with Amarillo which adds a layer of orange, the tropical twang of mango, and passionfruit and, while it’s not mouth-puckeringly sour, its tart edge and a rather spritzy carbonation do make it a beer that would… Read more
Style
Mango Sour & Kveik IPA
ABV
5.4% & 6.8%

Urban Alley Blush

Tapped September 26, 2019
When the crew at Urban Alley opened the doors to their Docklands brewery doors a year ago, one of the limited release beers they sent into the world was Blush. The wheat ale came packed with raspberry goodness and, though only a small number of kegs were brewed at the time, the brewery say it’s been one of their best-received beers to date. So, when the brewery venue's first birthday came around, they decided to re-release the beer, this time canning it and sending it a little wider. Pouring with… Read more
Style
Raspberry Wheat Ale
ABV
5.3%
Bitterness
21 IBU

Urban Alley The RRIPA

Tapped May 14, 2019
With their sweet yet often reasonably light malt body and a decent whack of flavour sourced from the hops department, red IPAs naturally feel like the kind of beer brewers should release in autumn: a bridge between the lighter, flightier beers of summer and the brooding ales of winter. And that’s precisely what Docklands’ Urban Alley have done as part of their Alley Series, which sees the brewery’s limited releases make their way into the world in rather eye-catching jet black tinnies. Not… Read more
Style
Red Rye IPA
ABV
6.3%