Will the real James Squire Please Stand Up?

On August 20, 2012, in CBD, by Jonno


The James Squire brewhouse

The James Squire Brewhouse is known all over Australia and there is probably not a major town without one (Canberra doesn’t count as far as we are concerned). But there is something strange about the James Squire Brewhouuse in Melbourne. There are two and it is alleged that they have nothing in common! Customers to the Portland Hotel on Exhibition Street will recognise the James Squire signature and branding about the place. You may also notice the beer vats in the corner which brew a local drop only sold in the Portland Hotel.

 Where is the James Squire Brewhouse?


The beer taps reflect the standard James Squire range in the Portland Hotel, so anyone would think that is was just a James Squire Brewhouse. Catch a tram down to Docklands where a new James Squire Brewhouse has been built.  This James Squire Brewhouse looks nothing like the Portland Hotel, but is a modern tavern with some rather splendid water views. The tavern itself is nothing special with common pub style furniture in a commercial shell that could have been a supermarket. But on a warm summers night, there are not too many better places to be sipping a cold beer, than overlooking Docklands harbour. Although as nice as the location is, during the day Docklands is quite dead and uninviting. It’s a pity really as Docklands is an area that should be buzzing, not dying.


The other James Squire

So back to the Portland Hotel that resembles a more traditional English style pub, with stripped wood floors and a more intimate atmosphere. Oh and home brewed beer, which on my visit was the called “Craic”. Located close to the centre of the CBD, the Portland Hotel is a good pub to meet with friends. Its easy to find in Best Melbourne Pubs and Bars.


In January 2012 I took my best mate from Uni, Spud, on a 5-stop beer crawl / walk (actually, cycle) starting in Carlton and finishing with a great boutique beer bar on Lygon Street, Brunswick. We had a terrific afternoon sampling the craft beers at each, and soaking up the ambience of one of Melbourne’s newest breweries, Temple Brewery in Brunswick.

When to start this Carlton and Brunswick bar hopping, and where to eat

We kicked-off at 2pm on a sunny Saturday afternoon, but mainly because Spud had to be home by 5pm to help with the little ones. I’d suggest you start at or after 3pm though, as Atticus Finch only opens from 4pm. You could also reverse the order we did it and eat at The Great Northern, the nosh looked nice. Alternatively, do it in the order we have it below but after Atticus Finch skip the Alderman, head down to Mr W then have The Alderman as your last and either order food in there (which is passed in from next door, some great Sicilian food from we Bar Idda we’re told). Or, a few doors down (left out the door) is the highly rated Rumi, great middle eastern food.

The map or route for this top Melbourne bar crawl

As you can see from this map of our happy trail, the area is a little further north than Jonno has covered in our Best Melbourne Pubs & Bars iPhone app, but I felt it was good to share this route:

1. The Great Northern, 644 Rathdowne Street, Carlton

Web: www.gnh.net.au

This wonderful oasis boasts 18 craft beers on top. What a find! For a co-founder of The London Pub Crawl Co. this pub held a special place in my heart. The variety of beers on tap reminded me of the 160 English pubs Jonno whittled down from the 7,000 in London, and stuffed in our London pub iPhone and Android app.

2. Temple Brewery, 122 Weston Street, Brunswick East

Web: www.templebrewing.com.au

A sleek and modern brewery in an industrial pre-fab concrete park, tucked away just off Lygon Street (close to the Quarry Hotel). We found the staff pleasant, the beer spot on and from the look of the dlighted faces on other punters eating there – the food looked OK too. Our favourite beers straight from the tap that day were the Temple Bicycle Beer (of course) and Temple Saison.

3. Atticus Finch, 129 Lygon Street, East Brunswick

Web: www.atticusfinch.com.au

This stylish bar has some exquisite beers in the fridge. Some of the blurb from their website evokes the best picture I can convey:

“Enjoy a locally sourced epicurean treat while sinking into one of the comfy booth seats or relaxing in the spacious rear courtyard. Escape the everyday and become immersed in old world charm with a distinctive modern day twist.”

4. The Alderman, 134 Lygon Street, Brunswick East

Web: n/a

This was our favourite for the day. Maybe it was the fact we were the first ones through the door soon after it opened at 3pm, or that the owner was working behind the bar that day and entertained us with a good chat and some history of the place. The selection of craft beers were impressive and the art deco interior and really well done courtyard outback captivated us for more than the mandated “1 beer per place” rule. In the colder Melbourne months the fireplace is perfect to cosy up to for a wintry ale. Check out the rustic dart board in the little courtyard.

5. Mr Wilkinson, 295 Lygon Street, Brunswick East

Web: www.facebook.com/Mister.Wilkinson

My cousin Chris first introduced me to this gem. We were dining at Hellanic Republic and – knowing my love of beer and all things pubish – he suggested we meet here beforehand. It is a top little bar at the north-end of Lygon Street. The staff know their beers, are friendly and the décor of a lot of wooden surfaces with some old televisions thrown in make it a unique feel.


While none of these pubs, bars or the brewery are in our popular Best Melbourne Pubs & Bars iPhone app, when we do get to collecting all the data on pubs and bars further afield than the CBD and Docklands each and every one of the above will make the list. Both Spud and I highly recommend this beer walk, and our preferred mode of transport is the good old bicycle. Be sure to drink and ride responsible of course!