MELBOURNE | The craft beer scene in Victoria has changed a lot since owners Ben and Maria Kraus opened Bridge Road Brewers in 2005. To use a well-worn cliché, it was a simpler time. There weren’t a lot of craft breweries in Australia making beer with quality that matched what Bridge Road was doing, when I moved to Melbourne in 2012 and discovered the community-focused, Beechworth brand.
I’ve visited the original Beechworth brewery a few times over the years, and love the space. Great beers, tasty pizzas and pretzels, and a local’s vibe. Ben and Maria have wanted to open a Melbourne taproom for a long time, and when a space presented itself at Brunswick East’s new EBV development, they knew that this was it.
As a local, I’ve been following the development with more interest than usual, checking out the site and getting updates from the Bridge Road crew while enjoying a drink a few doors up at their (now closed) “A Bar Made of Cardboard“. It’s taken longer than the original December 2022 plan to get things going, but now the shiny new 350 space taproom is open.
It’s a more intimate space than the size might have you believe. Rather than being a big beer hall, the venue is separated into several zones. There’s an outdoor patio at the front, with a bar and stools opening out into the patio. Inside, it’s tables and seating to your right, and a narrow space with the kitchen to one side. It opens up into the venue’s second bar, and a larger dining space. In the laneway behind, there’s further outdoor seating. It’s a family, child-friendly venue, and dogs are welcome in the outdoor spaces.
On tap, you’ll find Bridge Road’s core range of beers, plus rotating seasonal brews. There’s also a few taps dedicated to kegs of limited cellar releases like B2 Bomber, from years gone by. It’s all separated by style, with build-your-own tasting paddles available if you want to try a few things.
If you’re not a beer drinker, you’ll be happy to know that the taproom champions producers from across Victoria’s High Country. There’s cider and wine on tap, a varied, quality list of wines available by the bottle and the glass. There’s also High Country spirits and a decent cocktail list. Fridges are filled with good stuff that you can purchase for home.
For food, Bridge Road’s signature ‘pizzas with a twist’ and pretzels are featured, along with an impressively diverse selection of small and large bites. Head chef Jabili Mchawala has cooked a variety of cuisines in kitchens across town, and volunteers with ‘Free To Feed’, where he’s been exposed to the food of many cultures. I first tried Jabili’s food way back in 2014 at his modern-East African food truck ‘Jabili’s Kitchen’, which resided at the back of Smith Street’s sadly short lived Cuban-inspired rum bar, Los Barbudos.
It’s things like grilled half jerk chicken, with cornbread, and lemon yoghurt; miso mushroom pizza topped with seasonal mushrooms, ramen bechamel, daikon, and shichimit ogarashi; and a lamb merguez kebab with baby onions, and Moroccan harira soup inspired sauce.
Rumi is moving next door in November, and a boutique independent cinema will be opening across from the brewery soon. EBV is becoming quite the vibrant hub, and I foresee Bridge Road’s Brunswick East taproom only getting better as EBV entrenches itself into the community.
Bridge Road Brewers
137/141 Nicholson Street
Mon – Sun: 11:00am to 11:00pm