Hop Nation to launch second Footscray site

Hop Nation people

Pictured: Hop Nation founders Duncan Gibson and Sam Hambour

Melbourne’s Hop Nation is looking to launch a brewery and taproom on a site close to its current home in the suburb of Footscray.

It has applied to the local Maribyrnong Council to open the brewpub at the currently vacant industrial site.

The proposal, which is currently under public consultation, seeks to construct a new building on the site.

If approved, the $850,000, 110-capacity site will hold a new brewery for Hop Nation’s brew team, as well as a taproom.

The new location will face the same issues when it comes to licensing and planning approvals as when founders Sam Hambour and Duncan Gibson opened at their current site in 2016.

It is part of the exclusion zone for Coode Island, which suffered a chemical explosion in 1991 which led to increased restrictions on new developments in the area.

“[The planning application] also has to go through the Port of Melbourne because we’re in the exclusion zone, around an area where they store all the petrol,” explained Hambour.

“They’ve drawn a big circle around it and there are a few things in it and they don’t want a congregation of people within the zone, so every time there’s an application it has to go through them and they are just as powerful as the council so they can override it.”

However Hop Nation has been through the process before with its first site, and were permitted to have an initial 30 patrons, before it reapplied and the council increased this to 50 people allowed in the taproom.

“We have to have special evacuation reports done and there’s more safety paperwork to do I guess, but we’ve got the land, it’s there, so if we get this through we can start developing it and if all goes well it will be done before summer next year,” explained Hambour.

However, the risk is worth it to stay close to home.

“We looked at other areas and there are a couple of other councils that were more positive, but we like this spot and people know us here now,” Hambour explained.

“We wanted to stay in the area and have the two sites near each other so we can share staff between the two.

“This area at the moment, because of the bridge and tunnel that’s getting put in, loads of our neighbours are getting knocked down, they’ve been acquired by the government. In a few years it will be a grass area with a bike track which goes behind the brewery. It should turn into a nice but less industrial area.”

If all goes well, the new site will be Hop Nation’s main venue, while its old home will house fermentation operations, barrel programmes and storage. Hambour said they would probably forgo the licence on the site and make the new venue Hop Nation’s consumer-facing site.

He said that they knew it was time to upscale when they starting having to forklift things three inches to the left to fit more pallets in.

“It’s not a huge space, when we first took it on, it was all we could afford. We knew that if things went well, it would be a means to an end,” he said.

“It’s just too small and we want to make more beer and upgrade some equipment and work on quality beer, an upgrade the front of house and have a larger tasting room and restaurant.”

Hop Nation co-founder Duncan Gibson is currently in Germany at the BrauBeviale exhibition scouting out a new brewhouse, but they are looking at buying a 25hL kit.

“Duncan is having a look at a couple but we haven’t fully decided as we’re working towards a budget.” said Hambour.

If approvals are secured, then the new venue will open in 2020.

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