Melbourne has a habit of ensuring restaurants, bars and pubs never rest on their laurels, with a cooler, fancier or more exciting venue seemingly always on the verge of opening just down the road. In such a city, adaptation and evolution are the best ways to keep yourself on the radar.
This is a method well and truly adopted by Beermash on Smith Street in Collingwood, where the store that was formerly dedicated purely to growlers (and a small selection of packaged products) has now added a full takeaway section, a bar and is adding a cocktail lounge upstairs.
Beermash originally opened towards the end of 2014 offering takeaway beer, cider, kombucha and the like from its 20 taps before, a year later, owners Kieran Hennessy and Shayne Dixon set about adding new dimensions. The space was converted into a bar and bottleshop befitting its location on one of Melbourne's coolest strips, and now, on any given day of the week, you can pull up a stool at the bar and drink in too.
Growlers are still a big part of what they do, but the vision has been widened – as well as the option to drink in, the packaged beer selection has grown steadily, with a strong focus on cans. The fridges at the front heave with beers from around Australia and further afield, with special releases from Stone, Garage Project, BrewDog, KAIJU!, Mornington and La Sirène all sitting side by side.
The tap selections lean more towards the local and, like any good beer venue aiming to satisfy the more adventurous drinker, the tap list is changing all the time, while the fridges keep a solid balance between the special stuff and sixers of favourites to fall back on.
The brightly tiled wall of taps doesn’t stop at craft beer though. Reflecting the way their customers change throughout the day, those 20 taps are also used to pour cold brew coffee, kombucha, cider and even a couple of wines. In fact, the cold brew has proven popular with the festival set, which has discovered that a plastic growler filled with cold brew is quite the lifesaver after a hard night in Meredith's ‘Sup.
For Shayne, the project is an ever-changing beast, with plans to extend the bar, add more taps, and broaden the bottle offerings all on his mind. The introduction of more seating throughout the bar and on the street outside allow for Beermash to better entice punters through the door too.
With the addition of Slowbeer Fitzroy further up the road, and shops such as Cellarbrations stepping up their craft beer portfolios, Smith Street has become quite the craft beer destination for northsiders, with Beermash proving to be a spot deserving of a regular visit.