As the weather starts to get hotter for summer, it seems like a shame to be spending time indoors.
There’s no better time of year to grab a spot in a sunny beer garden with a drink.
And while Sydney likes likes to think it has the edge, those Victorian evenings when the sun lingers longer on a balmy night make it the best place in the world to be in a beer garden.
Here are 15 of the best in Melbourne.
It’s a little tricky to find how to get in. If you’re on Flinders Street, head to the pedestrian walkway underneath the train tracks which will take you towards the Yarra River, and you will pop out to the right of the entrance to Arbory.
During summer, there’s an extra bar area literally on the water called Arbory Afloat. Get in early to nab a seat. Food here is excellent, especially the burgers. Even if you’re not vegetarian, you’ll want to try the crumbed mushroom and haloumi burger.
03 8648 7644
Blink and you’ll miss it. Chuckle Park is wedged in between Klepner’s on the left and Pandora on the right. This cosy little hideaway is less garden and more of a beer courtyard. But what it lacks in space it more than makes up for in Instagram-ability, drinks and food.
They do a mean pulled pork roll, and a refreshingly light “Henry’s paloma” with a matcha green tea base is the perfect accompanying drink as it cuts through the richness of the meat. It’s pet-friendly, too.
322 Little Collins St
03 9650 4494
Section 8 encapsulates everything that’s great about Melbourne. It’s a humble shipping container that’s been converted into a bar and plonked in a graffiti-filled alleyway; but it’s become one of Melbourne’s best-known bars and event spaces.
It’s completely unpretentious, and has a killer cocktail menu. DJ’s often play from the afternoon until close.
27-29 Tattersalls Lane
0430 291 588
The biggest beer garden in Melbourne CBD has three main spaces — the restaurant and bar, beer garden and diner. You can order from the restaurant menu if you’re in the beer garden.
The restaurant serves some amazing snacks, salads and great pizza, but the desserts are the real star. Don’t go past the “Trunk’s bounty” — a white chocolate mousse with coconut parfait, dark chocolate crumb and coconut ice cream.
The diner has a slightly different feel, and serves more American-themed food like burgers, fried chicken and loaded fries.
It’s open from 7.30am weekdays and 8am weekends for the early risers.
275 Exhibition St
03 9663 7994
From the outside, it looks like any another unassuming corner pub. But don’t be fooled, this place is schmick. Real schmick. The spirit menu is extensive and even the hot dogs come with fancy accompaniments like the “monkey magic” which has kimchi, coriander and crispy shallot.
This beer garden could almost classify itself as a rooftop bar, and gives you an excellent view of the Melbourne CBD skyline.
508 Flinders St
03 9629 1350
Common Man, South Wharf
Common Man is only a 5 minute stroll away from the city.
Not only is there a parmy station and burger bar here, but it some of the best views of the venues on the list. During summer, there’s also a pop-up cinema and $12 espresso martinis every day.
39 Dukes Walk
South Wharf 3000
03 9696 3774
The Penny Black, Brunswick
Calling themselves the “better version of your backyard”, Penny Black has some great grub, with an excellent burger menu and huge salads that won’t leave you hungry. The drinks list is similarly excellent, our pick being the Fox Hat Phat Mongrel oatmeal stout. It’s like a beery porridge in a can, which tastes a lot better than it sounds.
They have a range of live music acts, from weekly hip hop nights to local and international DJ’s and bands.
420 Sydney Rd
03 9380 8667
Fitzroy Beer Garden, Fitzroy
The interior has a ramshackle charm that looks like the inside of your nanna’s house. Walk through and you’re lead out to beer garden under big red parasols. There are daily happy hours, meal and drink specials.
They may be best known for their acoustic sessions which happen every Sunday.
243-245 Gertrude St
03 9416 2689
Stomping Ground Brewery, Collingwood
There are plenty of bike racks to hang up your fixie pushbike if you want to ride to this huge establishment. Pub fare is given an upmarket twist, and there are too many delicious bottled and tap craft beers to mention. If you’re having trouble deciding, they do a “twisted six” — six 100ml taster of any beers on the menu.
If you like what you taste, you can even take the beer home with you straight from the brewery in squealers (945mL), riggers (1.25L), or growlers (1.89L). It’s also pet-friendly.
100 Gipps St (entrance on Islington St)
03 9415 1944
Dr Morse, Abbotsford
Dr Morse takes its drinks seriously. The tagline on their drinks menu is “for blood purification”, so that should give you some idea as to just how serious. There’s even a few choice sakes available.
If you’re with picky eaters that can’t agree on what to eat, the menu covers cheeseburgers to chow mein to curries.
274 Johnston St
03 9416 1005
A little further afield
Corner Hotel, Richmond
You simply must get the 3 cheese arancini. You may have had arancini (Italian rice ball) before, but not like this. Also get the giant pretzel with oozy beer cheese. Beer cheese. Need we say more?
Because there’s so much greenery around you’ll probably feel like you’re drinking in the middle of a plant nursery, but that’s a good thing.
57 Swan St
03 9427 7300
Windsor Castle Hotel, Windsor
It’s located off Chapel Street, down the back streets of Windsor, but you won’t miss this neon lime green pub. Although it’s in the middle of Brunswick, you’ll feel like you’re lost in the jungle in the leafy beer garden.
Simple pub grub is the go here, but the pies are top-notch. It’s a short walk away from other great bars on Chapel Street if you want to make a night of it.
89 Albert St
03 9525 0239
Secret Garden Bar, St Kilda
Be warned: This is not a quiet bar. If you’re looking for a quiet pint and a relaxing, slow afternoon, look elsewhere. However, if you are in the mood to stay out until 1am on Saturdays and 3am on Sundays, then Secret Garden will be right up your alley. You can hire out the cabanas or booths, and there is bottle service available.
If you’re just popping in in your way elsewhere, grab a spot atop the stripy bench on the astroturf from which to people-watch. There’s a free BBQ on Sundays from 2pm.
60 Fitzroy Street
St Kilda 3182
03 8598 9000
Captain Baxter, St Kilda
You won’t find a better beer garden so close to St Kilda beach. There are daily drink and food specials, notably $2 oysters from 5pm on Fridays and $40 yum cha per person on weekends.
St Kilda Sea Baths
10/10-18 Jacka Boulevard
St Kilda 3182
03 8534 8999
Notting Hill Hotel, Notting Hill
This pub is old. Like 147 years old. And it’s huge. You won’t have any problem finding a seat in the beer garden. If anything, you might have trouble finding your way back to the bar.
It’s completely unpretentious and serves up some great food from the steakhouse, and there are regular comedy nights where Australian comedians Dave Hughes and Tom Gleeson have appeared.
260-262 Ferntree Gully Rd
Notting Hill 3168
03 9544 3031
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