After almost a decade of brewing unashamedly intense craft beer and cider, KAIJU! Beer is set to bring beer and cheer to Melbourne’s South East with KAIJU! Cantina, a lively new 16-tap beer hall and pizzeria located at 27 Hume Street, Huntingdale, opening on Wednesday, 9 February.
KAIJU! Cantina is the brainchild of KAIJU! Beer founders and brewers Nat and Callum Reeves, and is set in a vast 445 square metre converted warehouse designed by We are Humble Architects. The venue reflects the local post-war architecture featuring soaring ceilings, bright colours, mid-century décor, cosy nooks, communal seating, an outdoor seated area, and a series of hand-painted murals.
KAIJU! Beer and KAIJU! Cantina co-founder Callum Reeves said: “Huntingdale might not seem like the most obvious place for a beer hall, but it makes sense when you get to know our background.”
He continued, “Nat and I grew up in Melbourne’s South East, and ever since Nat started home brewing at his place in Dandenong, we’ve dreamed of having a taproom in the area. We love going to explore and experience the inner north, but we just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to bring a new type of venue to this part of town. It really means a lot to us.”
The venue houses an on-site six hectolitre brew kit for limited edition and one-off brews. Visitors can expect KAIJU! favourites on tap such as KAIJU! Krush Tropical Pale Ale, and the Aftermath Double IPA. Non-beer drinkers have plenty to choose from with the team curating a list of locally made wines, spirits and non-alcohol options.
An impressive team of hospitality veterans have been appointed to run the show. Darcy Murphy as venue manager (Blue Bar, Wolf of Windsor), long-standing KAIJU! team member Fiona Lane (Stone and Wood Brewing Co., Little Creatures Dining Hall, Moritz Beer) as general manager, and hospitality consultant Lori Smith’s expertise called on to help launch the venue (Seamstress, Pope Joan, Trofeo Estate). Chef Jay Jafari is in the kitchen, where he will draw on his experience in kitchens across France, the United Sttes and Canada to showcase a selective, seasonal menu, heroing pizza. Amid a list of classic Italian flavours, a Cheeseburger pizza (San Marzano Tomato, American Cheese, Red Onion, Ground Beef, Pickles, Mustard) stands out as a different dish for more adventurous diners.
“The idea for KAIJU! Cantina is that it doesn’t just cater to craft beer connoisseurs, but that the food is just as big a drawcard in making it a destination venue. Jay has been hand-stretching bases for 20 years and as a result, has an uncanny ability to make a superb pizza — every single time. I can’t wait for people to discover and fall in love with his food,” said Callum.
In line with the beer brand’s fun and playful vibes, bright, colourful murals by KAIJU! long-time collaborator Mikey Burton — the artist behind the beer brand’s legendary artwork — adorn the walls. A key feature is a 12-metre panorama of the Melbourne city skyline peppered with iconic landmarks such as the MCG, Flinders Street Station and St Kilda Beach all visualised in Burton’s signature KAIJU! style. In keeping with the playful feel of the venue, a different approach to seating pint-sized patrons has been taken in the form of a classic, 1960s Toyota Coaster Bus in pale blue which has been converted into a mini booth seated area.
The team is also looking into ways it can support local brewing students just starting out on their journey.
“We’re really passionate about making beer and so we’re always thinking about ways to support the next generation of brewers with real industry experience,” said KAIJU! and KAIJU! Cantina co-founder Nat Reeves.
He continued, “Something we’re exploring is making our brew kit available to student brewers on days when KAIJU! Cantina won’t be trading. Eventually, we’d love to feature some of the beers that come from these collaborations on our taps.”
Located a stone’s throw from Huntingdale station, Chadstone Shopping Centre and Monash University’s Clayton Campus, KAIJU! Cantina will trade Wednesday – Thursday 4pm – late, and Friday – Sunday 11am – late with an all-day kitchen. Bookings can be made via OpenTable.
Brewery openings are presented by Spark Breweries and Distilleries, the finest in-venue and production brewing systems available, with local design and support.