Bulldogs vs Swans vs Taste Buds: Best Craft Beer Pubs to Watch the Grand Final

It’s the most pressing issue facing Australians today – where’s the best place to watch the Doggies defeat Sydney tomorrow?

It’s the most pressing issue facing Australians today – where’s the best place to watch the Doggies defeat Sydney tomorrow?

With excitement reaching fever pitch and pubs all over Melbourne offering massive screens, killer craft beer and flavoursome footy food, picking the right pub to watch the game might be just as difficult as picking a team to support (kidding, we’re all going for the Bulldogs amirite?)

As the perennial Western Underdoggies take on the mighty Sydney Swans in their first grand final outing since 1961, even footy-hating Melburnians are donning the red, white and blue and blocking out their Saturday arvos. 

Here are our top picks of where to watch the big game tomorrow, while enjoying a craft beer:

Inner North

Moon Dog

Moon Dog Brewing
17 Duke Street, Abbotsford. Tel: (03) 9428 2307

With the word ‘Dog’ in their name, Moon Dog are obvious contenders for best pub to watch the grand final The brewery bar has a whopping projector screen, tasty pizzas, stacks of couches to excitedly leap out of when the Doggies kick a goal, a buzzing atmosphere and some of the best – and zaniest – craft beers in Melbourne. The venue will be open on Saturday from 11am with 10 tasty beers on tap, and according to Moon Dog, “if you wear footy shorts we’ll shout you a schooner of Old Mate pale ale”. Ripper.

The Royston Hotel
12 River St, Richmond. Tel: (03) 9421 5000

Everyone’s favourite Richmond craft beer pub is putting on a fittingly grand event for the grand final, with a Modus Operandi  tap takeover featuring never-before-seen beers from the NSW brewery in Victoria. The pub is also decked out with three plasma screens, a huge projector screen, footy food specials, happy hour from 4pm-6pm and Rob’s famous footy sweeps. A great day guaranteed. Bookings available.

The Rose 
406 Napier St, Fitzroy. Tel: (03) 9417 3626

This old-school footy pub was given a recent revamp but is still a choice option to watch the game. The Napier Street pub will be offering six big screens to show the game, 16 beers on tap with plenty of crafty options and a footy food menu. Doors open at 12pm for punters to grab a good seat before the 2.30pm bounce.

Foresters Hall
64 Smith St, Collingwood. Tel: (03) 8415 1104
With 32 beer taps, an ace pizza menu and a 4am licence, Foresters Hall on the corner of Smith Street and Gertrude is the perfect place to watch the game on the big screen – or maybe head there after the game for a lengthy night of partying. Awesome beers on tap at the moment include Kaiju!’s Robohop, Fixation IPA, Founders Nitro Pale Ale and Two Birds’ ALTimatum Alt Bier.

The Gertrude Hotel
148 Gertrude St, Fitzroy. Tel: (03) 9419 2823
An easy stroll from both the 86 and 11 trams, the Gertrude Hotel in Fitzroy is supporting the Doggies with a dog-friendly grand final day. Bring your pooch and enjoy viewing over four screens including the rooftop beer garden. There will be 16 craft beers on offer and the kitchen will be pumping out the full menu from 12pm-9.30pm. The tap list includes the yummy Grandstand Australian Pale Ale from Collingwood brewery Stomping Ground, Exit’s delicious Double IPA and Hair of the Dog XPA from local gypsy brewers Old Wives Ales. The pub is not taking bookings so get in early when doors open at 11am to get a good table.

Tramway Hotel
165 Rae Street, Fitzroy North. Tel: (03) 9489 6100

The Tramway in Fitzroy North claims it is the pub to come to “if you’re looking to watch the game but don’t want to be infiltrated by bros”. Nevertheless, the footy will be playing on the big screen and there will be $15 jugs of West City Brewing’s Footscray Ale “reprazentin’ the ‘Scraggers” and Young Henrys Natural Lager and Newtowner “reprazentin’ the Bloods”.

Great Northern Hotel
644 Rathdowne St, Carlton North. Tel: (03) 9380 9569

This classic footy-watching pub on leafy Rathdowne Street has TV screens inside and out, an outrageously good selection of craft beer taps and a barbecue serving appropriate footy food. Tap beers include the insanely crisp and hoppy Balter XPA from the Gold Coast, brews from 7 Cent and a shiteload of Lagunitas beers from the US. While the pub is not taking any more table bookings, punters are welcome to come in from 9am when doors open to snatch some standing room.

The Royal Mail Hotel in West Melbourne.
The Royal Mail Hotel in West Melbourne.

Royal Mail Hotel
519 Spencer St, West Melbourne, Tel: (03) 9329 6955
The walls of this down-to-earth pub West Melbourne pub just north of Spencer Street Station have been painted in the Bulldogs’ colours and even the trees outside have been covered in red, white and blue streamers. A solid option for hearty pub grub, great beer choices and a whole lotta west-side love.


The Plough
333 Barkly Street, Footscray. Tel: (03) 9687 2878

This Footscray pub is showing its true colours quite literally, with a Bulldogs mural on the wall outside and stacks of red, white and blue decorations inside. Only eight minutes’ walk from Middle Footscray train station, leave the car at home and rock up on Saturday for some top-notch pub food, craft beer, kid-friendly atmosphere and heaps of passionate locals cheering on their faithful Doggies. Tap beers include West City Brewing’s Footscray Ale and Hargreaves Hill’s Zenith IPA.

Up In Smoke 
28 Hopkins St, Footscray. Tel: (03) 9689 8188

These excellent purveyors of finely smoked meats and delightful craft beer have your grand final day sorted with $18 jugs of West City’s Footscray Ale, or $22 for a bucket of four bottles until sold out. Delicious option in the west.

Station Hotel 
59 Napier Street, Footscray. Tel: (03) 9810 0085

A short walk from Footscray train station, this pub is another top choice in the west to watch the local lads destroy the Swans (hopefully).

Railway Hotel
35 Anderson Street, Yarraville. Tel: (03) 9687 2034

This Yarraville pub is super pretty and gourmet, but they are still jumping out of their skin at the thought of the Doggies being in the grand final. They’ve even painted the outside of their classy pub in the Bulldogs’ colours, and doors will be opening at 11am for eager punters to grab a pew. In the heart of Doggie territory, the atmosphere here on the day will no doubt be Going Off.

Junction Beer Hall 
15 Hall St, Newport, Tel: (03) 9391 8188

Directly over the road from Newport train station, this top-notch pub has a rad craft beer offering and ace food. Doors open at 12pm tomorrow, with the game shown live on two mega screens and two plasma screens. There will also be food and drink specials all day and a bunch of fun games and prizes.

Steampacket Hotel
13 Cole Street Williamstown. Tel: (03) 9399 9600

The pub opens at 11am on grand final day, with the kitchen open from 12-9pm. With a $15 footy menu and jugs of Footscray Pale Ale for $15, tables are going fast so make sure you ring up to reserve a spot.


Prosciutto Brothers 
1/31 Peel Street, Eltham. Tel: (03) 9431 3335

If you’re out in the leafy burbs on grand final day, do not despair. Craft beer bar Prosciutto Brothers in Eltham is offering $5 pots all day, fun giveaways and a DJ after the game. Be sure to book a table to avoid disappointment.

And if you don’t like footy

Carwyn Cellars (Thornbury)
877 High St, Thornbury. Tel: (03) 9484 1820

Footy-haters relax, Thornbury’s craft beer mecca Carwyn Cellars is offering a footy-free zone thanks to its no-TV-screen policy. They will also be pouring some fairly epic gems including Stone Brewing’s Anniversary Citracado IIPA, Thornbridge Brewery ‘Jaipur’ IPA, Fixation’s Double IPA, To Øl Mr Pink (Berliner Weisse with lychee & guava), Buxton Brewery Tropic Blunder Pineapple Pale Ale, 3 Ravens Brewery Hickory Smoked Oyster Stout and Old Wives Ales New Tricks ESB. Carwyn Cellars says they will happily welcome “footsy hooligans in our establishment before and after the match, provided you are (a)* still conscious and in good working order (read: “coherent” and “not behaving dickishly”), and (b) deposit your scarf in the designated burn barrel by the door. Consider it a non-refundable entry fee.” Sounds reasonable.

By Emily Day