Roughly three years after selling its first keg out of Stone and Wood brewery in Byron Bay, Fixation Brewing Company found a place of its own in Melbourne in 2018. Known as The Incubator, the renovated warehouse is a laid-back microbrewery and tasting room, with a straightforward industrial fit-out by Collingwood studio Tecture.
It’s a venue for people who love beer. But it’s also a bright and airy space that’s likely to appeal to people who have previously steered clear. There’s plenty of seating in the form of marble-topped high tables, wooden benches and olive banquettes soaked in sunlight pouring in from generous warehouse windows. Hand-painted murals of hops and chemical formulas by local signwriter Larry Stammers express the venue’s celebration of the craft.
Just behind the bar an exposed row of large, silver fermentation tanks serve as a constant reminder of the beer’s freshness. The venue serves eight IPAs, all brewed on-site and tasting much sharper than their imported counterparts, as they’re prevented from oxidising during transportation.
The company’s eponymous IPA has won the Australian International Beer Awards’ Consistency of Excellence award for three consecutive years. Start there. Then onto a citrusy number called Squish, a tropical IPA that smacks of passionfruit, mango and lime; or an IPA made predominantly from wheat and rolled oats called The 86.
For the less hop-inclined, there’s a small wine list and one apple cider. There’s no kitchen – hungry guests are invited to bring their own food, or order pizza from Red Sparrow two doors down. It’s an approach that sums up the venue’s relaxed, inclusive approach.