Range To Close Their Abbotsford Taproom

June 3, 2024, by James Smith

Range To Close Their Abbotsford Taproom

Range Brewing have today announced they're closing their Melbourne venue. The Abbotsford taproom opened in 2020, giving the brewery a southern outpost, but it will serve customers for the last time on June 15 as they focus on their Brisbane operations.

"We’re obviously gutted about it; I don’t think anybody would be happy about closing a venue," Range co-founder Matt McIver told The Crafty Pint. "But we’re reasonable enough people that we could see that it wasn’t working anymore."

In making the decision, he says they’d crunched numbers in-house, weighing up continuing to trade through to the end of their lease against closing now and looking to sell off the lease and assets, before choosing the latter route – one that could help fund further venues in their home state.

The challenge of operating a venue two states away proved tougher than they’d expected, while rising shipping costs – $400 to send a pallet from Brisbane to Melbourne now versus mid-$200s when they started – played a role in their decision. Matt also feels the lack of a kitchen worked against them, but given one of the key reasons they’d launched the Abbotsford venue was to act as a distro hub in Melbourne, they had prioritised a large cool-room instead.

“It’s a great little venue and we’ve loved having a place where people can drink our beers fresh every week,” he says. “It’s not a happy decision but we’re focusing on what’s to come."


Range will be calling last drinks at their Abbotsford taproom on June 15.


Over the past three-and-a-half years, Range Abbotsford has been part of a growing hospo scene in and around the suburb, hosting regular beer launches in tandem with their original brewery home. Since then, Range have opened Patio in the Brisbane suburb of Rosalie and launched The Bethnal, an events space next to their Newstead brewpub, and it's here they plan to focus their attention.

The taproom's imminent closure follows that of another Abbotsford pub, The Carringbush, which poured its last beers yesterday, and comes amid a tumultuous time for the beer and hospitality industries.

“It’s not a sign of the overall business – this is just one arm that wasn’t doing so well," Matt says. "If we were shutting the whole brewery as nothing was profitable then that would be a totally different story. And it sucks that we’re doing this when there’s been so many VAs and liquidations and full-on brewery closures, but it’s nothing to do with those things: we’ve not got a big bill with the ATO; we’re not going into administration.”

While Range Abbotsford hasn't panned out as they'd hoped, they remain convinced more venues form a major part of their future – just venues that are closer to home. Matt says The Bethnal has just enjoyed its most profitable month, while Patio is “humming along nicely” as an example of a modern neighbourhood bar.

“It’s not necessarily just a beer bar but has a strong natural wine selection and a good cocktail list,” he says. “There’s a more diversified menu than the [Newstead] taproom but it still has ten fresh taps of Range beer.”


Range Brewing founders Matt McIver and Gerry Martin at Patio in Brisbane.


Co-founder Gerry Martin added in a statement: “While we’re closing this chapter in Melbourne, we are doubling down on hospitality in our home state. With the success of Patio and The Bethnal, we’re putting all our energy and focus on building out our hospitality group in our home city."

Looking at the wider Brisbane scene, Matt says they’ve enjoyed a strong start to the year, adding: “The general vibe has been good. We’re quietly confident and optimistic for the rest of this calendar year, and by the 25 / 26 financial year everyone is looking up.”

The pair launched Range Brewing alongside head brewer Mitch Pickford in Brisbane in 2018, quickly winning over locals at their sleek, minimalist, Scandi-inspired Newstead home, and causing a buzz around the Australian beer world for their beers, in particular their fast-flowing stream of hazies and IPAs.

In 2020, they picked up Champion Independent Australian Beer for their Fahrenheit IPA – one of a series of trophies at that awards – and collected another trophy for Champion Juicy-Hazy in 2022, a beer we put at the centre of a deep dive into what makes a champion beer.

They have said they'll continue to sell their beers via Melbourne bottleshops and bars, as well as shipping to Victorian customers from their online store. And, prior to closing on June 15, they'll be offering case specials and draught specials at the venue ahead of a closing party with DJ on their last Saturday.

Both Matt and Gerry will be in Melbourne to pour beers at the Abbotsford closing party: a chance to have a few beers with staff as well as those who have become locals over the past few years.

“A lot of people in Melbourne will be upset and rightfully so – it sucks,” Matt says. “But hopefully they’ll understand. People know it’s pretty tough for breweries right now.”

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