Yarraville is the kind of Melbourne suburb that’s long had a village feel about it. The historic buildings along Anderson and Ballarat Streets turn the area’s beating heart into a place where shopping or sipping a coffee feels akin to visiting a candlestick maker at some point early in the last century.
While there might be no actual candlestick makers to discover in the 2020s, the multiple butchers, bakers, cafés, intimate diners and small stores suggest this pocket of Melbourne’s west really does have a taste for, well, the tasty. The fact it’s home to one of the finest cinemas in the city, the art deco Sun Theatre, is just further evidence Yarraville embraces the small-scale, the classic, and the community-minded.
But, while independent cinemas and bookstores matter a great deal and do help build a community, so too does an excellent craft beer bar. For some time, it was one thing Yarraville really lacked, despite being sandwiched between Footscray in the north, with its rising reputation as a beer destination, and Spotswood in the south – the home of Two Birds Brewing since 2014.
That was all corrected early in 2021 when the team at Hopheads brought their love for beer to the suburb. First launched by Adrian Chong and Wai Lee Yong in Point Cook in 2015, the Hopheads concept was born out of a desire by Adrian and Wai Lee to bring the kind of beer experience they enjoyed closer to home.
The couple soon turned that selfish interest into a bar-bottleshop hybrid with a great reputation and built a team and a name in Melbourne’s west that’s now synonymous with promoting and proselytising craft beer, before opening a second store in Altona in 2018.
At Hopheads Yarraville, their third bar and bottleshop provides the team with the perfect space to welcome more people into their world. Situated on busy Anderson Street, and a mere stone’s throw from Yarraville station, the location of Hopheads III is an ideal one for welcoming newcomers to craft beer and as a hub for those chasing rarities.
The 12 fridges give the bottleshop side of the business more space for beer than the other Hopheads enjoy and you’ll find them filled with myriad beer styles from some of Australia’s – and the world’s – top brewers. They can be enjoyed inside for a small corkage fee, although you’re just as likely to choose from the dozen constantly-rotating taps.
Drinking in at Hopheads Yarraville is an experience you don’t want to miss either. A mural that will feel familiar to anyone who’s walked into their Altona venues greets you as you enter, and though Yarraville is a similar size to their Altona, this one feels slightly grander. In part, that’s down to the high ceilings and wide windows at the store’s front, which provide not just ample space, but the perfect spot for people watching.
The design of both the bar and taps is one of simple elegance and, as with the other Hopheads, there’s no kitchen. But when the suburb you’re in is a village like Yarraville, you’re well serviced by local takeaway options as it is.
If there was any doubt Yarraville was the kind of village ready for a craft beer bar, the first few weekends after Hopheads arrival certainly put that to rest – how often do you see queues out the front of beer venues outside of major events?
Certainly, for fans of great beer, this village has never been tastier.