Lebanese brewer Mazen Hajjar and chef Joseph Abboud (Rumi, Moor's Head) have extended their beer collaboration, jointly opening Hawkers Beer in Reservoir.
This brewery's name derives from "hawking" – something the pair know a little about, the two having spent considerable time on the road promoting Hajjar's 961 Beer, which Abboud imports.
Founded during the Lebanon War in 2006 in a bid to "bring good beer to Lebanon", 961 Beer is now being enjoyed in 26 countries. But for his latest pursuit, Hajjar has relocated to Melbourne. "The beer culture here is super-exciting, so I thought: why not set up a beer for Australia, brewed in Australia?" Hajjar says.
Hawkers Beer, which opens to the public this weekend, is one of the Southern Hemisphere's most high-tech breweries. "I've learned in nine years of brewing that to fine-tune recipes, equipment makes a big difference," Hajjar says.
Hawkers' range differs from that of the Middle Eastern-inspired Beer 961, and its initial releases – an American-inspired pale ale, a Czech pilsner, an IPA and a saison – will be staggered over the next month. "It's exciting to approach beer from Joe's food angle along with my beer angle," Hajjar says.
While the cellar door is not yet, a fully fledged bar, visitors can sample brews and buy a slab on site ($60-$65). They'll also hit the shelves of selected independent stores.
Hawkers' pale ale will pour at the Geelong Beer Festival on Saturday, February 21, and an expanded range will feature during Good Beer Week, May 16 to 24.
Open Monday-Friday 9am-5pm.
Hawkers Beer, 167 Henty Street, Reservoir, 9462 0650