Few people know Aussie beer like renowned writer and brewer Willie Simpson, so when he calls a venue “the best beer bar in the land” it’s time to pay attention. Since opening early in 2008, The Local Taphouse in St Kilda has been tearing through up to 400 different beers a year on its 20 taps and fighting the craft beer cause in an area of Melbourne that had seen its pubs slowly disappear from the landscape.
With wood panels and beer memorabilia creating a warm and welcoming traditional pub feel reminiscent of a vintage 1930s European beer tavern, the bar opened by self-confessed beer nuts Steve Jeffares and Guy Greenstone is at the forefront of the crusade for better beer.
It hosts monthly Ale Star beer appreciation sessions, themed beer fests that draw huge crowds to sample beers often debuting at the venue. Tasting paddles allow drinkers to sample a range of beers before deciding on their favourites while they were one of the first venues in Australia to host brewery showcases.
There's a great upstairs beer garden, tasty pub grub cooked – and matched – with beer, a carefully selected bottled beer list and knowledgeable bar staff, making it little wonder the bar has picked up a swag of national awards. Indeed, if you want evidence of its longevity, in 2019 it took out RateBeer's Best in Australia.
Over time, additional spaces have been opened, including extra rooftop spots and a dining / function room that comes complete with a bocce court. Not only that, one of the SpecTAPulars that debuted at the venue – the Great Australian Beer SpecTAPular – has morphed into the epic Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular (GABS) that closes out Good Beer Week at the Royal Exhibition Building each May and now hits the road for Sydney, Brisbane and Auckland too.
The owners and one of their longest-serving team members, Justin Joiner, launched the Stomping Ground Brewing Company complete with Beer Hall in Collingwood and have been busy expanding the number of Stomping Ground brewpubs since, including one at Melbourne Airport – a first for Australia.
Add in the country's longest-running comedy night, an epic lineup of events every Good Beer Week and you've got a trailblazer that hit the ground running and has never slowed down.