The sun's out, the beer is cold, and suddenly, you realise that the bar you're in is utterly devoid of an outdoor drinking area. Equipped with our guide to Melbourne's most spacious, comfortable and well-equipped beer gardens, this nightmarish situation need never happen to you again.
Melbourne beer gardens we love
Gertrude Street's Sentido Funf has had a major overhaul and is now the Fitzroy Beer Garden. Thankfully the leafy beer garden is still there, but now so is a whole lot of absinthe, beers, DJs and a monthly market.
Natural light pours from above into the central atrium of this four-level Flinders Lane bar, where trees, lit up with fairy lights, give the space a greenhouse atmosphere. Beers like Fat Yak, Peroni and McCracken’s are made for summer drinking; or make the most of Garden State’s excellent wine list and order the quaffable Thierry Germain Chenin Blanc or the fruity and dry Save Our Souls Upper Yarra Sangiovese.
Collingwood’s new warehouse brewery pub is shaping up to be the inner north’s favourite summer drinking spot, where parents and prams share the sun-drenched beer garden with young couples and friends. Through the glass walls you’ll see your beer being brewed: we recommend the light Grandstand pale ale, paired with huge and fresh steamed mussels.
Five years on, and this café/bar with a kitsch Fitzroy backyard atmosphere is kicking more goals than ever. Grub has upped its bar snack and alcohol offerings (while keeping its vintage Airstream food van in the garden). A glass of crisp riesling is what you need alongside boards of pickled vegetables, a smooth duck liver parfait and a zingy avocado and fermented silken tofu dip.
Barbecue, beers, bourbon and fairy lights: the Collingwood smokehouse and absinthe saloon has everything you need for a star-gazing session.
Earlier this year, Hawthorn’s Geebung Polo Club got a revamp, which involved an extension to the huge courtyard out back. We hope you’re hungry: the menu is heavy on (very good) steak, which comes with hand-cut, triple cooked chips you won’t want to share.
Head past what could be Melbourne’s longest bar to the rear courtyard, slung with lanterns and perpetually full of hip young drinkers and their busy toddlers. The tap beer selection is as minimalist as the walls, but they offer a few gems by the bottle including Hawthorne Pilsner and Bridgeport IPA.
Not only do they have a cracking craft beer agenda at this South Melbourne pub, they have a mascot dog – Billy the staffie - and a courtyard that's open to your own hairy pals. Beers. dogs, and the occasional spit-roasted pig. Bring it on.
Who hasn't fallen asleep on the Retreat's Astroturf? Or been kicked out for attempting to climb into the welcoming boughs of that fairy light festooned tree? Cheap jugs of Brunswick Bitter and sunny afternoons make said antics inevitable.
With live music or trivia most nights of the week, the Standard is your classic Fitzroy pub. What sets it apart is its beer garden: a well-loved concrete jungle that is always packed.
You’ve got five brightly tiled bar areas, spread around a jungle-y rope-festooned courtyard complete with perving balcony. Big angular struts cut through the place like bamboo, and inside, copper beer tanks are holding Melbourne’s freshest Carlton Draught, pumped in direct from the nearby brewery.
Trunk is often overlooked, but the courtyard connecting the American diner with the formal restaurant is great – and smack bang in the middle of the CBD. Get yourslef a Tequila fizz and a cheeseburger and kick back beneath a stripy umberella.
The Wesley Anne is renowned for its Gothic interior but the leafy beer garden is where it's at. Battle the band-geeks and hipsters and pitch camp with a pitcher.
Yes, it's a meat market, but the tiki-tastic courtyard of the Windsor Castle is one of the better places to sweat it out in summer swelter, surrounded by bamboo, and bronzed biceps.