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Melbourne's Best New Pubs of 2016

Honouring the best new arrivals on Melbourne's pub scene this year.
By Concrete Playground
December 09, 2016
By Concrete Playground
December 09, 2016


Honouring the best new arrivals on Melbourne's pub scene this year.

It goes without saying, Melbourne's characteristically buzzing cultural ecosystem has thrived this year, with the city's most innovative, forward-thinking residents taking bold risks in their field. More inventive, forward-thinking and experimental than ever, Melbourne's newest bars and pubs have been upping the city's already renowned libation reputation. Our new (or renewed) pubs that have the biggest hurdle to face — history. Pub renovations in 2016 remained strong, moving into more contemporary, fine dining-focused territory with some of the city's best design teams at hand.

At Concrete Playground we encourage exploration and showcase innovation in our city every day, so we thought it fitting to reward those most talented whippersnappers pushing Melbourne to be a better, braver city. And so, these six new(ish) pubs, opened or revamped in 2016, have been nominated for Best New Pub in Concrete Playground's Best of 2016 Awards.

Vote for your favourite.

  • 6
    Stomping Ground Brewery & Beer Hall

    Melbourne’s craft beer scene is a global contender, well deserving of a craft brewery dedicated to its culture. Stomping Ground Brewing Co.’s new brewery and beer hall is just that, and the next great venture by craft beer heroes Guy Greenstone and Steve Jeffares.

    The duo are well known in the beer scene as two of the originators of craft in Australia — they’re the minds behind The Local Taphouses in Melbourne and Sydney, as well as the GABS festival which is now considered one of the best beer festivals in the world.

    Vote for Stomping Ground.

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  • 5
    Garden State Hotel

    Melbourne’s latest CBD pub looks set to tower over the competition. Opening after years of planning, the Garden State Hotel is a sprawling four-storey watering hole complete with public bar, beer garden, private dining room, subterranean saloon and New York-style grill.

    Garden State is located at 101 Flinders Lane, inside a 130-year-old building that began its life as a saw mill before playing host to Rosati, one of Melbourne’s top dining destinations in the ’80s and ’90s. Now, under the new ownership of Sand Hill Road Hospitality – the same team behind the Prahran, Bridge and Terminus Hotels – the space has been transformed once again.

    Vote for Garden State Hotel.

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  • 4
    The Rose Fitzroy

    When Fitzroy’s venerable old pub The Rose — famous for their bangin’ street partiesand being a top-notch place to watch the footy — shut down in December 2015, it was to the dismay of locals. Luckily it was only for a few months to undergo renovations, which has seen the pub get a new lick of paint, a welcome refresh and, most notably, a wine bar upstairs.

    New owners Tim Hogan and John Tennent — who also own Port Melbourne’s greatest wine bar, Harry and Frankie — have reinvigorated The Rose, but Fitzroy locals will be comforted by the fact that their natural watering hole retains the essence of the original pub. The front bar has lost the carpet, but kept the central bar and classic TV setup for watching a game and enjoying that classic Aussie pastime: a pot and a parma. However, upstairs has seen the biggest change. It’s Fitzroy version of the pair’s popular wine bar, and comes complete with a separate entrance. Up here the focus moves to wine (obviously) and away from pub food to a light charcuterie. There’s also a walk-in wine cellar for diners to pluck their wine of choice fresh from the shelves.

    Vote for The Rose Fitzroy.

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  • 3
    Hop Nation Brewing Co

    As Melbourne’s craft beer scene and its love affair with the western suburbs continue to explode simultaneously, it seems only fitting that the city’s latest craft brewery has made a home in Footscray.  A few sheds over from Back Alley Sally’s — and just a stroll from fellow beer nerds Up in Smoke — the team behind Hop Nation have thrown open the doors to their brewpub, adding to the growing list of weekend fun to be had out west.

    After a stint gypsy brewing out of Cavalier and Hawkers, Sam Hambour and Duncan Gibson have finally found a place for Hop Nation to call its own — and it’s too good not to share with the rest of the beer-loving community. All that ‘blood, sweat and beer’ the boys have put in has clearly paid off. The lofty, industrial space feels home-spun, yet far from sloppy with furniture crafted from pallets, the bar clad in recycled timber, and striking artwork jazzing up the exposed brick walls. Nab a seat up on the roomy mezzanine level to team your pint with a birds’ eye view of the whole operation.

    Vote for Hop Nation Brewing Co.

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  • 2
    Tallboy & Moose

    Contributing to Melbourne’s booming craft beer scene is Tallboy and Moose, a Preston brewery that quietly opened its doors in October. Four beers are made on-site — a table beer, cream ale, amber ale and pale ale — and they’re all served in a lofty, warehouse beer hall that’s been decked out with indoor plants and timber benches. It’s perfectly unpretentious — stripped back and fresh.

    Aside from bags of chips available at the bar, there’s no food service. But the food trucks that regularly appear around the brewery make up for it, as do nearby restaurants Chew Burger, Stray Neighbour and Noi Pizzeria. Tallboy and Moose also serve apple juice crushed to order and mixed with your favourite spirit, as well as one-litre cans of beer that are available for takeaway. If that’s not enough reason for a nomination, then we don’t know what is.

    Vote for Tallboy and Moose.

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  • 1
    The North Melbourne Hotel - CLOSED

    The North Melbourne Hotel found new life this year — it was a seafood restaurant, now it’s an eccentric, affordable pub with interesting décor and a quality dining room. It only took six days for the new owners to transform the space. They left the structure of the building the same, and focused instead on decking out the interior with black chandeliers and marble statues.

    The standard pub menu has been spiced up — European and Spanish delicacies like duck parfait, vegan paella and a whole suckling pig with all the trimmings appear (the latter is only available to pre-order). There’s still Carlton Draught on tap though, and you can grab a glass of wine for $5. Not bad for an inner city pub.

    Vote for The North Melbourne Hotel.

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