Big things are afoot in the wild west as Footscray becomes more gentrified by the day. During the coming month, Builders Arms-backer Anthony Hammond will reopen Harts Pub as the Victoria Hotel with semi-serious food, and here on Nicholson Street, what used to be a $2 shop has been converted to an idustro-buffed craft beer bar, bottle shop and cocktail saloon in the style of Carwyn Cellars.
Whether Footscray residents are happy about the general march of progress, they're not opposed to this. Mr West opened last Saturday and they had to turn people away.
Owner-bartenders Caleb Baker and Josh Hodges are both ex-bartenders and sales reps. They know their brews, evidenced by 20 taps pouring micro-batch saisons, lambics, lagers and barleywines from the likes of Tallboy and Moose, Boatrocker and New Zealand's Garage Project, and the cocktails have legs. Craft spirits infiltrate negronis, and there are milk punches (clarifying milk drinks is advanced bartending for a brew bar) as well as creative riffs on classics (see a mezcal and hibiscus spiked clover club).
The downstairs bottle shop is still an empty shell but will follow the craft line from wines to beers and spirits. In the style of Slow Beer, you'll be able to take any brew off the shelves to drink in or take away. Upstairs, it's a long low-lit concrete-and-wood shell ending in a big courtyard. Railways sleepers and spikes-as-tap-handles amount to decor.
Food-wise, they have a short list of cheese and charcuterie on offer in-house, but you can order anything in from UberEats, Foodora or Deliveroo.
Onward the west.
Mr West is open Wed-Thu 4-11pm; Fri 4pm-1am; Sat1pm-1am; Sun 1pm-11pm at 106 Nicholson Street, Footscray, mrwest.com.au,