Since opening the doors to their Docklands home in 2018, Urban Alley have helped show how craft beer can find a home in all manner of places and with all manner of audiences. After all, District Docklands might be on the doorstep of Melbourne’s CBD but, at the time, it was better known as a tourist and shopping destination where you were more likely to find a new wardrobe then a new favourite beer.
The Urban Alley mantra seems to be one of “Build it and they will come” – the brewery’s arrival created a welcome haunt for Docklands locals, workers and anyone looking to enliven an afternoon’s shopping.
That desire to bring beer to new spaces took another leap in 2022 with the arrival of Urban Alley Brewery Knox. The brewpub is located inside Knox Ozone, a dining precinct in Melbourne’s eastern suburb of Wantirna that sits next to the substantial Westfield Knox shopping centre.
Formally the space was home to the Seamus O’Toole pub, but in its new guise the brewpub has shed any resemblance to the old boozer known to as The Irish. Instead, it’s been reinvented as a sleek, family-friendly and modern venue.
Much like their expansive original home, it’s sizeable too – licensed to fit some 750 people. Urban Alley Knox wears its size well, however, with the venue’s multiple levels and outdoor dining areas providing ample opportunity to enjoy a quiet beer or a less-than-quiet catchup if part of a large group.
The brewhouse itself is smaller than the production brewery at Urban Alley Docklands, with the 400-litre system here focused on creating small batch beers for locals and ensuring what pours across the taps is as fresh as can be.
Beer isn’t the only beverage being created at Knox: it’s also home to a gin distillery operated by Tasmanian producer Dasher + Fisher. Both the distillery and the brewery are easy to spot when you walk through the doors, while the fermentation tanks that form the bar’s backdrop make it clear this is a place of production as well as hospitality.
In total, there are 18 taps throughout the venue that pour the full range of Urban Alley’s beers, from limited-release sours to their more accessibly core range, including the Slapshot Pale Ale that took out a highly-coveted bronze medal at the World Beer Cup in 2022.
It’s not just beer you’ll find pouring, though, with Delvi seltzer regularly appearing on tap and local wines and cocktails a focus too – including those that blend beer and gin. The food menu combines modern pub fare with items built for sharing, including platters and pizzas.
But while bringing craft beer to a new audience is Urban Alley’s focus, that alone isn’t what the brewpub is about. Beyond beer and food, you’ll also find them regularly hosting live music, DJs and trivia nights, while their licence allows the party to roll on until 3am.
Given shopping malls are already designed to make it hard to leave, the multifaceted brewpub that is Urban Alley Knox is only likely to make it harder still.
You'll find Urban Alley's beers on their brewery page on The Crafty Pint