Taphouse to stay a free house, despite owners’ brewery venture

Collingwood’s new Stomping Ground Brewery will be a hospitality venue first and foremost, according to co-founder Steve Jeffares, who says you shouldn’t expect much to change at the associated Local Taphouse venues in St Kilda and Darlinghurst.

After three years in planning, Jeffares and partners Guy Greenstone and Justin Joiner this week announced Stomping Ground will open to the public for the first time on May 15.

Breaking Ground with Friends will be a one-off party at the beginning of Good Beer Week, prior to Stomping Ground’s 250-person bar, restaurant and beer garden officially opening in June/July.

Jeffares told Australian Brews News that Stomping Ground will stay a separate brand to The Local Taphouse venues, which will continue trading under their current guise, largely unchanged.

L-R: Stomping Ground’s Steve Jeffares, Guy Greenstone and Justin Joiner

L-R: Stomping Ground’s Steve Jeffares, Guy Greenstone and Justin Joiner

“We’ve worked too hard and we’ve had a fair amount of success. I think it would be foolhardy to rebrand them,” he said.

“The Taphouse over nine years has worked to be a fiercely independent free house. We tap 450 beers or thereabouts every year, and we don’t really want to change that.

“I would say probably two of the 20 taps will be Stomping Ground beers. If anything we will err on the side of caution in terms of perceived conflict and then periodically if we’ve got some interesting beers – as we would with any brewery in Australia – then we might rotate something into the general mix.

“Apart from people who know us, the average person is not going to be aware of the association between Stomping Ground and the Taphouse,” Jeffares said.

Gipps St Pale Ale
Jeffares said the Collingwood venue itself will soak up the vast majority of Stomping Ground’s volume.

While its debut beer Gipps St Pale Ale will be available externally at a limited number of venues in Melbourne, he said this will be the exception rather than the rule.

“I don’t see, certainly in the near future, that we’re going to have reps all over Melbourne… I think Guy will probably be it,” he said.

“We’ve built a brewery in Collingwood that’s a decent size that’s going to be open seven days a week, and our hope is that with some modicum of success, there will be no commercial imperative for us to sell our beer anywhere else.”

Jeffares said Stomping Ground didn’t have much hesitation in choosing what would be the first beer style in its core range.

“For years now Pale Ale – forget about the brand – has been the top one or two styles of beer consistently across both Taphouses. For us to say ‘we’re not going to brew a Pale Ale’ would be really foolish,” he said.

Collaboration brews revealed
Breaking Ground with Friends will showcase Stomping Ground’s first beers along with eight collaboration beers brewed on site with some of Australian craft beer and cider’s best known names:

  • Beetroot Stout (with Garage Project, NZ)
  • Red Saison with Grapefruit (with Mornington Peninsula, VIC)
  • Rauchbier (with Stone , NSW)
  • Belgian Cherry Tripel (with Willie Smith’s, TAS)
  • Apricot Sour (with Big Shed, SA)
  • Belgian IPA (with Mash, WA)
  • Coffee IPA (with BentSpoke, ACT)
  • Tropical Pilsner (with Burleigh, QLD)

For further details see the event page on Facebook or the Stomping Ground website.

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