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Clifton Hill Brewpub sits at the centre of a growing live music scene

It’d be fair to say that Melbourne’s inner-northern suburbs have snagged themselves the coveted title of ‘trendy’. 

Areas like Fitzroy and Collingwood are hubs of activity, overflowing with dynamic nightlife, stylish shopping strips and a bustling foodie scene worth crossing the city for. Just down the road, Abbotsford boasts some great cafes and laid-back bars, while Carlton is a mecca for traditional Italian fare. 

Alongside these attention-heavy suburbs lies Clifton Hill, which generally goes pretty unnoticed thanks to its flashy neighbours. But it’s here where you’ll find a hidden gem, in the form of the Clifton Hill Brewpub. 

Built in the 1880s, the brewpub stands in place of the former Clifton Hill Hotel, which has undergone some serious makeovers in its time. The venue’s most recent facelift was around five years ago when the brewpub was installed, and they began pumping out a plethora of interesting craft beers. Prior to this, the pub’s drawcard was its live music, hosting artists like The Waifs, Ash Grunwald and Jordie Lane, to name a few. 

This entertainment aspect is something they’ve recently reintroduced, aiming to inject new life into the venue and fill a gap in the Clifton Hill scene. 

“They used to do live music a long, long time ago – it used to be quite a heavy rock’n’roll, kinda biker bar,” says manager Hamish Arnold-Lester. “Now there’s a bit of a mixed bag with what we do, there’s some jazz some nights, and funk, some folky-rock, and some alternative gigs as well.

“There’s bars like Some Velvet Morning just down the road and The Gaso around the corner, and there’s not a huge amount of live music places in this area. So, it was more to engage the clientele, and deliver them some entertainment on the weekends that they otherwise wouldn’t see unless they travelled out a fair way.

At the moment, the pub hosts two days of live music a week, taking place on Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons. Their program boasts an eclectic mix of Melbourne artists – but you won’t find any aging cover bands here. 

“We don’t really stick to a theme apart from we don’t really do the whole ‘April Sun in Cuba’ kind of cover band thing,” laughs Arnold-Lester.

What you will find though [as well as music] is a lengthy list of craft beers, seven of which won medals last year at the Australian International Beer Awards. 

“We do about thirteen beers on our taps that are all from our brewery, plus two outsourced and a cider. Probably four or five of those are constant, and the rest all rotate,” explains Arnold-Lester. “There’s more stouty ones coming through the winter cycle, and we focus more on the whole sours and lighter style lagers and pilsners over the summer months.” 

Their current lineup is pretty tantalising, featuring exotic brews like the Breakfast Sour, a Tropical Storm, the Irish Red Ale and their highly regarded Raspberry Gose – which Arnold-Lester himself is a big fan of. 

“I wasn’t a huge craft man before I did start here, but I’ve slowly built my palate,” he admits. “I’m a huge fan of sour beers now, and we do a great raspberry one at the moment.” 

If you’re not into your hops that’s ok too, as they offer an extensive wine list – 54 different types – plus an impressive collection of gin, with a variety of tonics and mixers. There’s food too for when you’re feeling peckish, serving up sophisticated dishes like kangaroo loin marinated in thyme and orange zest, or your standard parma-type pub grub. 

Melding live music with brewery-fresh beer, a carefully selected wine list alongside an intricate yet accessible menu, the Clifton Hill Brewpub is the perfect spot for anyone with an eye for quality and diversity.

Clifton Hill Brewpub is located at 89 Queens Parade, Clifton Hill, open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. Head to their website for their live music program.