‘Cheers, Big Ears’ is a phrase commonly used in Australia as an acknowledgement of one’s mates before having a large swig of an ice cold beer… Not any other drink, not any other temperature. Beer only. Ice cold.
How fitting that this inspired the name of Geelong’s newest bar that has opened up on Little Malop Street. Introducing Big Ears – a bar dedicated to good beer and good food.
Pioneered by the team from the far-famed Piano Bar, it was the rise in craft beer both here in Australia and around the world that inspired the creation of Big Ears.
With more than 40 beers already on the menu, the beer list is an ever-evolving collection of stellar finds. Ranging from locally made small batch craft beers to boutique treasures from some of the oldest breweries across the globe, there is just one thing constant on their changing menu; passion. The team love what they do and they love what they serve.
“The beer menu is always going to be changing,” explains manager Tyson Whytcross, who has spent the last few months trialling and sourcing a number of different brews to curate the beer list. “The taps are going to be changing, and the bottle range especially is going to be changing. We just thought that there’s so much nice beer, not even just from Australia, but also Belgium, Asia, and all over the world, and we wanted to share that.”
On the beverage menu, you’ll find it all. With a select few options on tap and a number of bottled beer, they’ve got something in every beer category you could think of – ale, pale ale, red ale, lager, witbier, dark/porter/stouts, IPA, sour/gose, neipa, pilsner, saison, trippel, lambic, ginger beer, mid-strength, strong beers and even gluten free beer. There’s truly something for everyone. They even have some fruity options on the menu too such as Mango Beer and Apple Cider for those with a bit of a sweet tooth.
“We just want to keep it fresh,” Tyson explains. “We’re not just going to have the same beer menu; it’s always going to change as we put on seasonal releases and find new beers.”
Along with the ever-changing beer list, rest assured the team are catering to all drinkers with a carefully selected concise wine and spirits menu – so if you’re not into beer, no fret! All the spirits are made in Victoria and the wine list is a selection of local growers and producers. You’ll find a good range of vino from esteemed wineries including Koonara, Jack and Jill, Lethbridge and Cape Banks, as well as spirits including Teddy and the Fox Gin and Here’s Looking at You, Kid barrel-aged vodka.
It’s not just alcohol, however, that has Big Ears earning its stripes. They’ve also mastered the recipe for the best meatballs using only the best ingredients.
Comforting in every guise, the lure of a meatball is hard to beat – and why would you want to? Big Ears is quickly becoming Geelong’s Meatball Mecca, revolutionising the humble meatball you were once served alongside three serves of vegetables.
Embracing a ‘build your own dinner’ concept, for $16 you choose a ‘Mama Julie’s house-made meatball (chicken kiev, beer, lamb or vegan), a sauce (Italian red, Swiss gravy or green pesto) and something for your balls to sit on (fresh Otway pasta, potato gratin, vegetable ragout or rice pilaf). If you’re feeling extra hungry, you can finish it off with some lotus root crisps, some cheesy ciabatta or a snow pea and mushroom salad. We recommend trying the chicken kiev with green pesto and potato gratin for a wholesome and satisfying dinner option. It’s also no stress if you’ve got some dietary requirements with a number of gluten free, vegetarian and vegan options. Win, win and win.
The moment you smell the heavenly aroma from the kitchen, you won’t be able to help yourself from devouring these round morsels of awesomeness.
Along with the brews and balls, the décor is just as intriguing. Since operating as the original Piano Bar, the venue has undergone an entire transformation since closing at the end of last year.
“We’d always had the idea, but we were really busy with Piano Bar. Once we shut this [the original Piano Bar venue], and realised it was just sitting here, that’s when it all started coming together,” Tyson explains.
With a creative curved wall feature, a number of intimate bar tables, and hanging racks filling out the space, the bar wall is the real focus point of the room, which features artwork from local artist Jae (aka My Heads A Jungle) who is well known her the ink work, and enamel, aerosol and stencil on the walls and doors at Malop Street’s Piano Bar.
“That wall, that’s all her; it’s her trash wall,” Tyson explains of the bar wall at Big Ears. “She’s just going to keep slapping up posters and graffiti it; whenever she can find something she wants to stick up there, she will stick it up. If she ever gets bored with it, she’ll paint something different over it, with summer coming up, we might change it again.”
Opening earlier this month, Big Ears is already becoming a clear favourite amongst the locals… and we can absolutely see why.
Cheers, big ears! Now, who’s up for a pint?!
Located at 86 Little Malop Street, Big Ears is open Wednesday to Saturday from 11:30am – late.