Navi's Julian Hills and Hop Nation team up at Zymurgy bar, West Footscray

Jullian Hills' fancy beer food features pickles and ferments.
Jullian Hills' fancy beer food features pickles and ferments.  Photo: Ed Sloane Photography

Brace yourself for some some wild and cultured times, West Footscray. Navi chef-owner Julian Hills will be reopening his fine diner in December, but first, he's joined Hop Nation owners Sam Hambour and Duncan Gibson in a business that's all about fresh beers, food cooked over coals and ferments.

Zymurgy, pronounced zimmer-gee, is the scientific name for fermentation and it is a project that has been bubbling away since early 2020. The space is well-equipped for an opening under outdoor restrictions, with a backyard (overseen by a mural of giant cockerels) that's 250 square metres.

The fermentation reference is more than a nod to brewing. Hills says as the project settles in, there will be a strong focus on making their own cheeses, charcuterie, vinegar and misos, which will accent food cooked over coals. 

Julian Hills is linking up with Hop Nation owners Sam Hambour and Duncan Gibson to open Zymurgy.
Julian Hills is linking up with Hop Nation owners Sam Hambour and Duncan Gibson to open Zymurgy. Photo: Ed Sloane Photography

Hills' breads, which have developed cult status in West Footscray, also feature.

Opening dishes include a Noma-style shawarma of vegetables bound by miso and slow-cooked over coals.

A sourdough pretzel is brushed in wagyu fat (or seaweed butter) and swiped with salted cod roe and blackened finger lime. There is a reuben made with barbecued tongue and house pickles, and a koji and barley ice-cream sandwich for dessert.

The giant courtyard, ready for outdoor dining.
The giant courtyard, ready for outdoor dining. Photo: Ed Sloane Photography

Drinks? Wines are as crafty as the house brews, thanks to Hambour and Gibson's separate wine hustle, Site Wine, where they get local producers to create experimental drops.

Zymurgy, 561 Barkly Street, West Footscray, zymurgywest.com.au.