Get yourself psyched for when pubs and bars open up again.
Let’s be honest, that first frothy sip from a crisp-chilled glass is something we’re all waiting for.
While the bloom of cherry blossoms heralds the return of blue skies, there’s a faint whiff in the Melbourne air, stirring up a tingling nostalgia for many warm, raucous nights.
In this city, nature and beer go hand in hand – park bevs, river bevs, and of course, beer garden bevs. While the experience of sharing a few cold ones with several others from multiple households is both a faint and mildly-concerning distant memory, once upon a time there was nothing quite like it.
The beer garden subculture will return soon enough – until then, we’ve compiled a list of Melbourne’s best beer gardens, to keep your memories alive and your hopes afloat.
Your absolute classic beer garden, and potentially the best in the inner north. Tucked away behind Brunswick Street, The Standard’s magical beer garden is an optimal hideaway for an extended session. Filled with huge sturdy tables and plenty of them, The Standard’s got any group covered, large or small – book ahead as it’s a locals favourite on a balmy night.
Another local favourite, The Retreat offers a perfect beer garden, with all the trimmings. It’s huge and features plenty of greenery and seats for all your beery gathering needs.
The Great Northern
Quality, absolute quality. The Great Northern is more than just a great pub, it’s an experience. With huge TVs cementing its appeal to sports fans, The Great Northern’s beer garden is a place to come together over a pint and preferably, a ripper game of footy.
Plenty of the best beer gardens just happen to cluster on the north side… no apologies will be made. Something in the air, perhaps. It wouldn’t be a comprehensive list without a shout out to The Union, where both upstairs and downstairs beer garden offerings ensure your crew will get a table. The downstairs is leafy, green and cozy, while the upstairs is large and spacious.
A little oasis in the midst of the city, Workshop’s vibrant green beer garden is a comfortable escape from the CBD’s chaotic urban energy. The oasis element is further emphasised by their luscious misters, keeping the temperature down for optimal beer-sipping comfort.
The Shady Lady
Potentially the best kept secret of Fitzroy. While it may be teeny tiny, The Shady Lady’s space is warm, welcoming and intimate. It’s a little hideaway complete with fairy lights and cheap, delicious pina coladas. And cheap beer, of course.
The Castle’s beer garden is a jolly little escape – a comfortable, sheltered space in which to while the afternoon away over a few frothies. Pleasant bar staff and an all-round good vibe, The Castle’s low-key atmosphere is one you can always count on.
A newcomer to the beer garden scene, but nevertheless a chic one. Harlow offers a large, comfortable beer garden, with plenty of shelter from that sweltering summer sun. Greenery, greenery, greenery, and some colourful art, if it’s garden beers you need, Harlow’s got you covered.
While we’re talking misters and oasis’, Dr Morse offers a similarly-comfortable hideaway vibe. Great tunes and even better food offer a strong vibe to the beer garden scene. Better yet, once food service ends on the weekends, the lush little garden evolves into a dance floor. We love a versatile space.
“Am I in Australia?”
The Yarra Hotel
There’s a reason this pub, built in 1855, has stood the test of almost two centuries. Obviously, it’s the magnetic pull of the beer garden, with its leafy green vistas and raucous energy. The live music and great pub food probably help too.
The Aviary Hotel
Very cozy-chic, The Aviary boasts a stunning beer garden, perfect for a relaxed drink in the almost-inner-city. Perfect for large groups and offering a huge selection of local beers and divine food, The Aviary is a perfect spot to catch up for a bev with friends, family, lovers… or anyone really.
The Bergy Seltzer
What’s up with Brunswick and great pubs? Seriously, the suburb has them coming out of the woodwork. This speakeasy, divey, local favourite has what you need for a good beer-drinking time. Divine tap beers and a laid back vibe, The Bergy Seltzer is just plain great.
College Lawn Hotel
The College Lawn’s calling card is its “epic beer garden”. Say no more, we say. It’s huge, and we mean huge. With cottage-core aesthetic greenery (think, vine-covered walls), heaps of seating and standing room, the massive space complements a hotel which does it all – lounge bar, restaurant and even accommodation.
Great gigs, banging food and a sprawling beer garden. Flat out fantastic – The Corner truly has it all. Oh, how we yearn.
The inny minny beer garden out the back of stellar West Melbourne haunt Hello Jose is a place of frivolity and warmth. Their tacos and margaritas are something to behold too.
The Windsor Castle
The Windsor Castle’s beer garden gets hectic in the summer but I don’t mind balancing three heaped pints as I weasel my way through 50 million people. YEAH I LOVE IT…
Nah but seriously, this spot has got all manner of things going on with its jungle-like beer garden, including an outdoor bar which is supreme for all the sesh weapons out there.
Ahhhh the red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. See what I did there? No list of Melbourne’s best beer gardens is complete without a mention of The Rainbow. Who was the legend who thought of putting the pool table outside, and why is that bike hanging from the roof? Lol.
There’s so much to love about North Melbourne’s Prudence – whether it’s the homely vibe inside, the cute little rooms, or the dope decor, they’ve got you covered for a solid sesh. Then there’s the beer garden which is a kinda inside-outside room with a rad setup. Never has picking where to sit been such a fun activity.
Le Bon Ton
Da Bon Ton! The legends hidden in the back streets of Collingwood, these guys have you covered for all manner of pleasantries. Their beer garden is small and cute but it’s been a cultivator of timez over the years.
Upper Lygon’s Atticus Finch has got heaps of shit going on. Wander out the back and you’ll find an intimate beer garden, fitted out with an art-deco/shabby chic, aged metal and wooden outdoor sets painted in chipping white. Then there’s a shed with a pool table in it… Bloody oath!
The Fitzroy Beer Garden
You’d hope The Fitzroy Beer Garden’s outdoor drinking domain would be sound given it’s name, and they don’t disappoint with an area that’s expansive and serene. It kind of feels like an adult playground which is dope.
The Tote is included in this list not for reasons of flash and swagger, but for convenience. Keen on a ciggy in between sets? Take ten steps and you’re there – in the beer garden, where everyone’s having a great time. And there’s no need to forecast when the next band is coming on because you can see the stage through The Tote’s side window… C.O.N.V.E.N.I.E.N.T.
The Wesley Anne
The Wesley Anne’s beer garden is just straight cool. Sometimes I want to walk to every corner of it just to experience every pocket of it. Is that weird?
Keen on another fun read? Check out our piece on Melbourne’s best dancefloors.
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