The revamped District Docklands entertainment precinct continues to nab some good'uns, including a seven-storey artisan market and the first Melbourne instalment of Archie Brothers Cirque Electriq. Now, a sustainable craft brewery has been added into the mix. Urban Alley Brewery opened the doors to its massive new brewpub and production facility in September 2018, and it comes complete with onsite bio-waste and water treatment plants, gas emission offsets and biodegradable packaging to boot.
The brewery's founder, financier-turned-home brewer Ze'ev Meltzer, started brewing back in 2016, when he launched Collins St Brewing Co. Meltzer is retiring that moniker with the launch of Urban Alley Brewery, but he's brought across one of its most-popular beers, Once Bitter. Now called Urban Ale, the flagship session ale is already available in Melbourne venues such as Naked for Satan, Garden State Hotel and Pawn & Co. And the brew is available in bottle shops, too — packaged in biodegradable E6PR six-pack rings, which are made from spent grain and can be eaten by marine life.
This eco-focused attitude is at the forefront of Urban Alley Brewery, with sustainability practices around waste, energy consumption and gas emissions front-and-centre. Sure, you've heard of breweries going solar, but Urban Alley's facility takes environmental-consciousness to the next level.
First up, Meltzer has installed an onsite bio-waste plant, which repurposes every bi-product of the brewing process (apart from spent grain) into fertiliser. The natural gas produced by the bio-waste plant is in turn used to power the brewery. Next, an onsite water treatment plant neutralises all water-waste. The result is water that is high in minerals, salts and proteins, which in the future will be transported and reused in farm irrigation.
Meltzer has also has teamed up with a local distillery (which shall mysteriously remain nameless for now) to reduce the carbon footprint of both businesses. In general, the rapid heating-and-cooling process needed during brewing can require up to 3000 times more gas than an average Australian home. By creating a shared system that exchanges water usage, the two venues have reduced gas emissions to match residential consumption. It's easy to see the necessity for this type of system, especially considering the Urban Alley production facility aims to pump out two-million-litres of beer per year.
This eco-warrior is also open to the public, offering up 24 rotating taps of the brewery's core — including a lager, an American pale ale and a dark brew — and seasonal ranges. The huge warehouse space holds room for 550 all up and the brewpub is constructed from recycled brick and wood, of course. It has a full kitchen too, slinging a menu of traditional pub grub like parmas, schnittys and burgers, plus a dedicated Kosher menu and beer-battering aplenty. A collab with the upcoming Archie Brothers is on the docket too, so keep an eye on this space.
In general, it seems craft breweries have won their way onto a precinct must-have list across Australia — with Urban Alley's opening following Frenchies in Sydney's The Cannery, along with Felon's Brewery and Stone & Wood taking up space in Brisbane's Howard Smith Wharves development.