Six months ago, Smith Street eco-pub Grumpy’s Green appeared to be on the outs. Playing host to some seriously terrible bands (and some good ones too, we’re sure), a confused management style and service which was a little too casual at times – it was beginning to look less ecowarrior and more hippy burnout. But with new management in place, new bar staff, cleaned-up decor and a simplified menu, Grumpy’s appears to have turned itself around in recent months.
The slogan here is ‘Eat, Drink, Save the World’, which in practice translates to attempting to minimise the environmental impact of the running of the pub. The menu is vegetarian, a solar panel provides electricity and the lighting in the courtyard is all supplied by candles. The small plants that sit on each table are of debatable carbon-offset value, but this cosy two-story venue’s commitment to Victorian wine, beer and produce is definitely impressive.
One intriguing – yet conscience-pricking – element of the menu is the highly accurate ‘distance’ measurement provided for each drink, by which you can learn just how far your choice travelled to reach you. The alcoholic equivalent of food miles, they range from Pure Blonde at 3km to offerings from Mildura Beers at 550km.
If you can’t stomach anything as mainstream as Pure Blonde, Boatrocker Alpha Queen Pale Ale will sooth the conscience at only 7km, as will the delightful 3 Ravens Dark Smoke Beer at 10km (is it wrong to compare the taste of a beer in a vegetarian pub to well-cooked bacon?). The tap beers change frequently, but the bottled beers are really where it’s at – the staff know them well and are happy to make recommendations based on personal experience. It’s good to see Grumpy’s back on form.