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The best beer gardens in Melbourne

Time Out's picks for boozing in the great outdoors

Photograph: Graham Denholm

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.

While we're talking booze, be sure to check out our favourite cocktail bars, wine bars and rooftop bars.  

Melbourne beer gardens we love

The Alehouse Project

You'll find the same pebbled, statue- and tree-filled courtyard here from when this joint was the Comfortable Chair, but now there are specialty beers and American chicken wings to go with it.

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Brunswick

Commercial Club Hotel

File this one under secret beer gardens. Pass through the main bar and you'll hit the big bricked in courtyard overhung by the shady boughs of a tree. There's a little potbelly stove out here for winter, and a couple of covered booths so you (gingers) can drink outdoors in safety.

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Fitzroy

Dr Morse Bar and Eatery

So this is a collaboration between Jon Costelloe and Anth Daniel, who also owns Richmond’s Aviary – something that becomes apparent the second you step into the sprawling, twinkling beer garden, replete with barbecue and the promise of jug-swinging good times. Inside, they’ve rendered what was once Kiss FM HQ into a golden glowing playhouse, festooned with plants and embroidered cushions.

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Abbotsford

Fitzroy Beer Garden

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.

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Fitzroy

The Gertrude Hotel

Over the last couple of years, publicans Cassie and Leo Thompson have steadily transformed the Gertrude from non-descript local to beer legend. There’s a bottle shop and growler service for take-home fun, with sixteen taps dedicated to the rare and the wild. Plus, the beer garden/ rooftop bar that nobody seems to remember.

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Fitzroy

Grub Food Van

Dogs, stripy parasols, table tennis and a shiny bullet of an Airsteam caravan combine with Lord Nelson Three Sheets ale and Tromba tequila-grapefruit refreshers. That's some good summery times right there.

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Fitzroy

Habitat

We've been waiting for summer to make proper use of the leafy beer garden here that is twice the size of the bar. It is one of the only places on Smith Street for a cider in the sun. And the cider list is strong, including bottles from Harcourt.

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Collingwood

I Know a Place

We always forget about I Know a Place. It's easy to do, given its location just off the end of Brunswick Street, but we shouldn't. Inside is a tiny cocktail bar also delivering craft beers, but we always come for the big concrete courtyard, slung with party lights, and serving up beats and hot dogs over summer.

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Fitzroy

Le Bon Ton

Barbecue, beers, bourbon and fairy lights: the Collingwood smokehouse and absinthe saloon has everything you need for a star-gazing session.

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Collingwood

The National Hotel

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.

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Richmond

The Palace Hotel

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.

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South Melbourne

Pallino

Pallino’s premise is simple: bar and bocce. It may be a while out if you’re not a local, but Pallino is built in a 1950’s espresso bar for locals by a local. It doesn’t aim to be ground breaking, but it certainly has provided great, new ground for the stomping. Just take note - the bocce is only available on weekends.

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Thornbury

Retreat Hotel

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.

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Brunswick

The Standard

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.

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Fitzroy

Terminus Hotel: Abbotsford

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.

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Abbotsford

Trunk

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.

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Melbourne

The Village

If size matters, this sprawling beer garden trumps all. Tree-lined and the size of a football pitch, it's more park than beer garden, albeit one stocking a hell of a lot of local and global craft brews. Commandeer a table or lay out beneath the elm trees.

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Melbourne

The Wesley Anne

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.

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Northcote

Windsor Castle Hotel

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.

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Windsor

More outdoor drinking in Melbourne

The best rooftop bars in Melbourne

Whether you're after beers and sun or moonlight and cocktails, these high altitude drinking spots are well worth the climb.

Read more
By: Time Out editors

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