Through a combination of technical nous and culinary passion, Melbourne's new urban producers and innovative chefs are reducing food miles while 'greening' the CBD, triggering another transformation of the city's ever-evolving food and wine scene.
Distillers, brewers, coffee specialists and wine-makers are setting up production facilities and cellar doors in the middle of the city. Chefs are installing their own kitchen gardens, restaurants are offering regional farm tours, and beehives are popping up on rooftops.
Brimming with creativity and talent, local drinks artisans are rolling out everything from small batch whisky and gins to good ol' moonshine, beers and wine.
The hard stuff
Located in Little Lonsdale Street, in what was once a debauched pocket of 1850s Melbourne, Little Lon Distilling Co. create characterful, small batch gins that pay homage to that vivid era. Across the river, moonshine is coming to the masses. Hidden away in a South Melbourne warehouse, Melbourne Moonshine produce handcrafted moonshine with a clear, strong flavour that captures the spirit of the American South. Finally, the award-winning Starward Distillery in Port Melbourne's industrial hub rounds out the pack of the city's new heavy hitters.
A good brew
Prefer an ale? The craft-brewing revolution shows no sign of slowing down, and with each new brewery comes new ideas and new flavours. Take your pick from the ever-expanding range on offer, including IPA, NEIPA, sours… we could go on.
Check out Craft & Co., Colonial Brewing, Thunder Road Brewery, Temple Brewing, Two Birds, Mountain Goat, Stomping Ground, 3 Ravens, Tall Boy and Moose, Moon Dog, Hop Nation, Burnley Brewing, Hawkers and La Sirene. Keep your eyes out for more as the list keeps growing.
Once commonplace in the 19th century, winemaking in the city had dried up, until now.
The Noisy Ritual team are bringing their sustainable, low-impact approach to winemaking to the people of Brunswick. And with gigs and tasty share plates to boot, their cavernous warehouse is always lively. Up the road in Preston, Jamsheed Urban Winery is set to be Melbourne's second major urban wine outfit. Opening soon, it promises to be part winery, part dive bar.
Other bright ideas
The shift back to urban production extends further than the city's drinking scene. Across Melbourne, foodies, chefs and hospitality professionals are finding new ways to innovate.
Thanks to a pioneering Melbourne start-up called Farmwall, restaurants can install and service vertical aquaponic units to grow their fresh produce. Top Paddock and Higher Ground are the early adopters with more on the way.
The QT Melbourne Pascale Bar and Grill boasts an industrial green space called the Secret Garden hidden behind the QT The Rooftop. Chefs at Melbourne's Grand Hyatt harvest their produce from their own Altitude Garden, which grows all the fresh herbs the kitchen needs.
Housed in Northcote's old Christian Science reading room, All Are Welcome is a collaboration between Everyday Coffee and pastry chef turned baker Boris Portnoy. The on-site bakery and coffee shop specialises in Middle Eastern treats.
Hive of activity
Bee populations are under threat and some of Melbourne's best and brightest are on the case. Honey Fingers and Rooftop Honey install hives in urban areas, boosting bee populations and producing outstanding local honey at the same time. Pick up a jar at stockists across the CBD.
By the numbers
- 168 Victorian craft breweries
- 33 Victorian craft distilleries
- 100 urban beehives in Melbourne
- 57% of Victorian households grow food
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