When Parched opened their doors in West End in December 2021, they were opened to trials and tribulations. Not only was it a time when the pandemic was being especially prickly to hospo, but within months of the brewery’s opening the lower level of the venue disappeared underwater in the floods. It was as though the heavens opened, took note of the name “Parched” and decided to give the brewery a drink.
But the ethos of Parched is about bringing people together, and a mere pandemic-natural disaster one-two wasn’t enough to get in the way of their mission. Instead of breaking the spirit of the brewery team, these difficult times only served to bring them together and cement their place in the West End community and local brewing scene: a kind of bonding-through-adversity. Locals quickly became loyals, and Parched quickly became their friendly neighbourhood brewery.
Parched was originally borne from a dream of a small bar. But dreams have a habit of growing: the idea for a small bar became the idea for a small brewery, and by the time the dream became a reality, it turned out that Parched isn’t so small.
Tucked in a side street off Montague Road, Parched extends across three levels. At street level, there’s some outdoor seating (and also bathrooms with lovely fixtures, if that’s the kind of thing younotice).
The middle level is where all the action happens: the commanding stainless steel tanks lining one wall; the dark green subway tile bar drawing the eye; the row of blonde timber picnic tables stretching the length of the room.
Upstairs, the mezzanine offers the option of hiding away in a corner or sitting at stools that look grandly out at the level below. These seats watch over the brewhouse just as the brewhouse watches over the dining and drinking area. Many options as to where you might like to sit, all brought together in one big brewpub space.
Despite its size, Parched somehow manages to keep an atmosphere of… dare I say “coziness”? I feel silly calling such a large venue “cozy” (they’ve hosted functions for 300 people!), but there’s something about the setup that keeps Parched from feeling like a warehouse space. Is it the timber panelling around the walls (inspired by brewpubs in the Canadian Rockies) bringing a sense of warmth? Is it the picnic tables that combine for larger groups to sit together, so family and friends can talk and laugh and pass truffle salami pizza and plates of Korean chicken wings to each other? Is it the way you always feel within reach of the bar, within reach of the brewhouse, within reach of the live musicians (who sing and play from the brew deck – sorry, “brew stage”)?
Whatever it is, it’s a nice vibe in which to drink beers.
Speaking of the beers – what a variety. Parched pride themselves on having something for everyone, so perpetually creating a range of flavours is the norm. There are 16 rotating taps at the bar, with a handful of styles available in cans at any given time.
The options span from historical styles (think 1800s era Burton-upon-Trent-style English IPA or early 1900s era California Common) through traditionally made styles (think smooth Irish red ale or crisp American sparkling ale) to modern classics (think West Coast IPA, XPA, or Mexican lager) and trendy, adventurous styles (think fruited sour or milkshake IPA). Good if you want to session. Good if you want to go on a journey. Good if you want to try something new.
That “something for everyone” mentality extends beyond beer as well. Regarding drinks, there’s a thoughtful list of Aussie wines (with a sneaky French champagne and rosé in there), a few local spirits including a non-alcoholic gin, and Australian-made soft drinks.
When it comes to the food, you’d be crazy to pass over the chip lover medley (I can die happy now). For a larger meal, there’s a spectrum of choices from fancy pizzas and burgers to a whopping bourbon-glazed BBQ brisket. There are also share plates, plant-based options for the vegans, small meals for the kids, and servings of beer ice cream for the sweet-toothed.
Of course, while the Parched team welcomes everyone, there’s a special place in their hearts for their local community. That’s why they do takeaway food and beer for their locals. It’s why they put on Pint of Pilates, and the Parched Run Club, and play major sporting events on the big screen. It’s why they have a beer called 4101 (the area’s postcode) that sees ten percent of sales go to a different community group every month.
But this doesn’t make them exclusive. Parched is family-friendly, dog-friendly, and… well, just plain ol’ friendly. When you pull up a seat on a Sunday arvo session in full view of the LED-lit brewery, look up at the huge orange hop cone mural, and take a sip from the tasting paddle recommended by the bartender, you get the distinct impression that all of this exists just for you – no matter who you are.