The Mill Brewery Take Over The Bendigo Hotel

July 4, 2024, by Will Ziebell

The Mill Brewery Take Over The Bendigo Hotel

It’s been a tough few years for both local beer and live music but The Mill Brewery have injected some much-needed positive news into both scenes with the news that the Collingwood brewers have taken over The Bendigo Hotel.

The beloved Collingwood live music venue on Johnston Street closed its doors in March, with the owners citing financial challenges. Over more than a decade, the grand and castle-like pub built a reputation as one of Melbourne’s best places to watch metal and hard rock gigs, which makes it a great fit for the new owners, who have hosted metal bands at their brewery in the past.

The Mill's founder, Mirek Aldridge, told The Crafty Pint: “I'm just so pumped and excited to be a part of that live music scene and help it grow and stay alive.”

The announcement means The Mill will close the doors to the Sackville Street venue they’ve called home since their inception more than seven years ago. Mirek says the need to move had been on his mind for some time after the building they were in changed hands, leaving them with an uncertain future.

“The building sold a couple of years ago and there was no solid date; they just kept giving us another year after another year,” he says. “Then this particular time they gave us six months, which rang some alarm bells.”

He’d been looking for a new warehouse on the quiet, with the intention being to remain in Collingwood.  

“I honestly didn’t even look outside the area,” he says. “I didn’t want to even think that we might have to move suburbs.”

 

Mirek on the right next to the brewery's sales maestro, Manning Blanchard.

 

They’ll be keeping The Bendigo Hotel name as well as continuing its century-plus history as a prominent Collingwood watering hole. Once open anew, the front bar will serve as The Mill's taproom; as soon as possible after that, they’ll install their 600-litre pilot brewery within the pub’s substantial garage.

“It won’t be immediate but it will be down the track so we’ll have it operating and be a true brewpub,” Mirek says.

It will make the new venture a rarity in the Australian beer landscape, given few breweries have their own bandroom. They’re installing a new PA system and working with a local booker who, like the brewery team, is excited by the prospect of filling The Bendi’s substantial bandroom.

They’ll retain the pub’s close ties to the metal scene, which seems fitting considering The Mill has to be Melbourne’s, if not Australia’s, most metal brewery.

“We will keep metal going but will open up the genres a little,” Mirek says, with any changes to the icon more a case of tweaks than a significant overhaul.

“It will have a lot of its old soul, but it just needs a little love.”

Moreover, The Mill aren't the only party moving in: their long-term kitchen partners, Dingo Ate My Taco, are along for the ride too, and bringing with them an expanded menu.

“We’re keeping the team together, we’re just picking everything up and moving it down the street,” Mirek says.

Indeed, with plans to open the doors to The Bendigo Hotel in late August just a week after closing Sackville Street, they've got a busy couple of months ahead.

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