Melbourne's legendary The Espy reopens

Melbourne’s seminal St Kilda Venue will reopen its doors this Friday, having been returned to its former seaside grandeur.

The Hotel Esplanade, bought by privately-owned hospitality group Sand Hill Road in May 2017, has been carefully restored to encompass a curb-side beer garden, basement stage, public bar, main bar, garden terrace and two restaurants.

Designed by long time Sand Hill Road associates Techne Architecture + Interior Design, the landmark venue’s reincarnation was largely inspired by its most notable resident Alfred Felton. Felton was a wealthy entrepreneur, art-lover and philanthropist who lived on the hotel’s topmost floor from 1891 until his death in 1904.

Sand Hill Road Director Andy Mullins told Brews News that because of Felton, and because there has always been so much myth and legend surrounding the Espy, they decided to commit to opening every square metre of the building to the public.

Mullins said that an enormous effort has been made to breath life back into the venue.

“The Espy itself is a massive undertaking and there was a reason it’s been closed for nearly three years.

“I lot of operators were intimidated by it.

“Physically, it’s five levels, it’s a 140-year-old building, it’s heritage protected, it is so loved and adored and revered, and eulogised and canonized almost, it’s like a living entity.

“Every single consideration along the way of design had to be really carefully thought through and widely consulted on.

“And the reason we’ve got five levels, 12 bars, two kitchens and three stages, is because it has to cater to everybody.”

When it came to beer, Mullins told Brews News that because today’s beer consumer is more sophisticated and more widely travelled, “we felt we had to challenge every aspect of the business to have the same scope and the same vision.” He said that had to include beer.

After much discussion with several local breweries about working on a barrel-aged beer program, the Espy team decided to partner with Guy and the team at Stomping Ground.

After 12 months of planning and working out logistics, the new French oak barrels are now housed out the back of the Espy, on a newly built structure in the new Espy kitchen.

“We’ve been barrel ageing in their brewery for about three months, so we’ll bring those casks over here and we’ll send some casks back out to them.

“It’s complex, it’s hard enough to brew beer in a perfect environment, let alone brewing it into French oak casks and transporting it.”

Mullins said he hopes to be tasting the beers just before Christmas.

As for the venue’s other beer offerings, Mullins and the team have gone with a packaged, serve yourself type focus, whereby guests can get their own beers from the fridges.

The Esplanade Hotel is located at11 The Esplanade, St Kilda VIC 3182.

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