As the home of CUB, Abbotsford’s association with beer comfortably stretches back more than a century. The brewery has long been a part of the suburb's story but, more recently, the beer choices in the suburb have grown increasingly diverse. Small breweries have increased the amount of local beer that flows along its streets and some of the area’s oldest pubs have turned their taps in a craftier direction – a story we featured in 2018.
The suburb also happens to be home to some of the finest pho in the world, which makes a beer-drinking and noodle-slurping day spent exploring Abbotsford about as good a day off as you can possibly conceive.
Starting near where our Richmond Crawl left off, this guide takes you to the breweries and venues that make the place what it is today.
Moon Dog OG
Moon Dog World in Preston might be hogging the limelight these days but there’s much to love about drinking a beer in the understated spot in which the Moon Dog story began. The Duke Street venue sits in the shadow of CUB and is an indoor-outdoor-tropical delight, complete with palm trees, some of the comfiest old couches in Melbourne and pictures of John Candy on the wall.
The brewery’s fun, thrown together appearance is matched by frequently bizarrely thrown together beers, with the small brewery out the back still acting as a pilot brewery for the wilder side of Moon Dog’s imagination. The pizza truck out the front serves some of the tastiest pizzas to ever come out of a truck, so sit back and enjoy the frivolity that comes with drinking a Moon Dog beer inside their OG home.
Soak in Moon Dog's origins at 17 Duke Street, Abbotsford.
The Carringbush Hotel
The Carringbush has long been part of Abbotsford’s pub life but took on a new lease of life towards the end of the last decade. In 2019 it was relaunched by the team behind the Old Bar, who revamped the space, gave it a meat-free menu and turned their focus towards quality booze.
The space is light, bright and open, with the new owners removing many of the internal walls and old windows that seemed designed to keep passers-by out; the result is a venue that's far more welcoming. The horseshoe bar that greets you as you step inside comes complete with 30 taps pouring beer, wine and kombucha, with that focus on draught in part inspired by the sustainability ethos that also infuses their plant-based menu. On that front you’ll find it not too dissimilar from the menu of many other good pubs; hearty, well-considered and delicious – just without the meat.
You'll find The Carringbush at 228 Langridge Street, Abbotsford.
The Park Hotel
A short walk from the Carringbush, The Park Hotel was taken over by the same team that runs Richmond’s Royston in 2018. They set about giving the old local kind of feel for which their other venue has become known and loved. There’s a dozen beer taps pouring a mix of Victorian and interstate beers in a wide variety of styles.
While the beer list and the menu may draw many in, it’s only a small part of what makes The Park a local’s local. There’s the front bar where you can pull up a stool to catch a game of footy, the open fireplaces that light the way from bar to dining room and an extensive pub menu that includes classic items and the slightly less common – beef bulgogi sandwich anyone?
Outside, you’ll find a beer garden that’s as good as they come; it’s big, filled with tables, has its own pool table and on the warmer days and evenings you’ll find a dedicated pop up bar to keep you hydrated.
Park yourself in a seat at 191 Nicholson Street.
The Retreat Hotel
The Retreat Hotel's front bar holds a special place in the minds of many Australians of a certain generation, having been the watering hole of choice for characters in The Sullivans television show. For younger generations, the space’s stained-glass detailing, history-covered walls and an all-encompassing sense of character should help place it in our own collective memories too.
The beer garden out the back offers another cosy spot in which to enjoy a pint, while the tables out front are fantastic for sitting with your dog to watch the neighbourhood walk past. If those ideal outdoor spaces or the building’s beauty aren't enough to lure you through the doors (though, seriously, that’s enough), the beer list might. Across a dozen taps, The Retreat focuses on pouring what’s local and what’s good, with the occasional beer from a little further afield too.
Beat a welcome Retreat to 226 Nicholson Street.
Bodriggy Brewing Co
Even before it opened, it was all but assured Bodriggy would be the kind of brewery that would both bring people to Abbotsford and be embraced by locals. The former Auto LP conversion warehouse is home to a brewhouse out the back while the rest of the space is licenced for more than 400 people and has been carefully broken up into to ensure the huge space doesn’t actually feel that huge.
You’ll also find one impressively long and purpose built bar and that features taps that don’t just pour Bodriggy’s beers (many of which come directly from serving tanks along the back wall) but serve natural wines too. The back bar nearly reaches the ceiling and is filled with mezcals and tequilas which sit well alongside the South and Central American influenced cuisine.
There’s even a stage that DJs and bands regularly take to, with residencies lasting months and being part of what makes the brewery a community hub and a destination. Add in left-of-centre events, a giant glitter ball and (sometime in 2020) new spaces on side lining Johnston Street and you've got a brewery venue up there with the most distinctive and impressive in Australia.
Get your groove on at 245 Johnston Street.
As one of the original craft beer destinations in Abbotsford, when Dr Morse opened in 2014, its distance from the nightlife hubs of Brunswick and Smith Streets meant it felt a little like the venue was on the moon. Now it’s more akin to the centrepoint of a good food and drinks solar system, located opposite Bodriggy and open from the early morning until late at night everyday. It's café, bar and eatery all rolled into one, making it just as valuable to visit before work as it is immediately after.
The Dr Morse front bar features six taps with another six in the beer garden, with both regularly pouring beer about as fresh as it ever comes, thanks to shared ownership with Bodriggy. But you’ll also find plenty of beers on offer from other local, and occasionally not so local, breweries.
The beer garden is a particularly popular way to spend long afternoons where a grill is often fired up to serve up late lunches while DJs set up ready to spin the wheels in all manner of directions late into the night.
Pop across the road and into the loving arms of Dr Morse at 274 Johnston Street.
And there's more...
If you're looking to continue on your journey, or to find beers to bring home, there's plenty more options to check out:
- McCoppins Abbotsford – 501-509 Victoria Street – Like its Fitzroy counterpart, McCoppins' Abbotsford outpost was one of the earliest Melbourne bottleshops to go big on its beer range and maintains an impressive selection of beer in its very many fridges.
- Blackhearts & Sparrows – 247 Johnston Street – Next to Bodriggy and the newest member of the Blackhearts family at the time of writing, the Abbotsford outpost has the same dedication to fine booze as its siblings with an added provedore serving up tasty treats.
- Lulie Tavern – 225 Johnston Street – Also right by Bodriggy, Lulie's slings beer, cocktails and wine along with rock 'n' roll vinyl. If you're hungry, grab a spot and order a pizza from neighbouring local favourite Rita's Pizza.
- Nighthawks – 136 Johnston Street – Technically, it’s in Collingwood but it’s such a small stroll along Johnston Street from Hoddle Street and it’s an worthy inclusion. Nighthawks is a dive bar that feels like part of the area’s skin and has a small selection of craft beer on tap too.
- Yarra Hotel – 295 Johnston Street –A classic boozer with tremendous beer garden and a focus on live music that always has a few crafty options on tap.
- The Vic Bar – 281 Victoria Street – Located on the Victoria Street side of Abbotsford this space has a big focus on cocktails and tunes, with a few crafty offerings amid its beer taps too.
You can check out all other Crafty Crawls from around Australia here, including those in Fitzroy and along the nearby 86 tram route. You can also locate all venues featured here and hundreds more across Australia via the free Crafty Pint app.
NB "Crafty Crawl" is our catch-all title for suburb, area or PT line guides to good beer around Australia and we're not suggesting you take any of them on in one go unless, of course, they're approached sensibly.