Two Row Bar on Smith Street, Fitzroy. Photo: Stuart Cox
TWO ROW BAR
The real selling point at this six-week-old bar is that it's co-owned by Chris Menichelli from Slowbeer (Richmond), meaning that 30-litre kegs of rare brews rotate weekly, sometimes daily. A small menu of grilled cheese sandwiches are on hand, including the Dan ($10), a pretzel bun with smoked ham, gruyere and a special homemade beer mustard created by co-owner Tiffany Waldron.
351 Smith St, Fitzroy; 9939 6634; tworowbar.com.au
The Public Brewery.
It's a wine bar, a beer bar, and a bottle shop that does good food, and since opening in March, it has been flatout busy. ''We're a little unique in that we love both beer and wine,'' says co-owner Louisa Chalmer. The back wall is full of a tasty selection of good value craft brews, available to drink in ($3 corkage) or take away. We suggest staying, as the wallaby carpaccio ($16), shaved on the bar, is a delight.
313 Victoria St, West Melbourne; 9077 9294; cleverpollys.com.au
THE CLIFTON HILL BREW PUB
This pub reopened in September after renovations; they've been brewing their own beer since January. The front bar and dining area are separated by the brewery, bordered by glass, so guests can see brewer Costa Nikias at work. Try the five available on tap with a tasting paddle ($12 for 4). Sample the warming American Dark Ale as a winter tipple. Large tasting plates ($20 a person) of vegetarian, meat or seafood offerings are a standout.
89 Queens Parade, Clifton Hill; 9489 8705; cliftonhillbrewpub.com.au
THE PUBLIC BREWERY
Community spirit lives on at this 10-week-old brewery, as many of the features in this former feed warehouse, including the huge fireplace, were donated by local businesses. Behind the vats (the public can also brew their own here) is the dining hall, with long, communal wooden tables. Lots of local craft varieties are available and the menu, created and described by the former head chef of Domaine Chandon David Cafarella as ''extravagant dude food'', is launching this month.
13 Lacey St, Croydon; 9725 5864; thepublicbrewery.com.au
MOON DOG BREWING'S BAR
Already known for its big, flavourful beers, Moon Dog's two-week-old bar has eight on tap, including Jumping the Shark, a barrel-aged, truffled Imperial Stout containing 4.5kg of Tasmanian truffles. With alcohol content at 15.4 per cent, food will be needed and a rotating list of food trucks (from paella to pizza) are on hand while an in-house menu gets sorted. The decor is pure op-shop, with fading couches under glass chandeliers, which encourages communal sipping.
17 Duke Street, Abbotsford; 0405 148 243; moondogbrewing.com.au