The team behind trailblazing craft beer venue The Local Taphouse is set to open a bar in the Qantas Domestic Terminal at Melbourne Airport. It's their second joint venture with Delaware North at the airport, following the launch of the Stomping Ground venue in Terminal 3 in early 2020.
Their latest venture is due to launch in October, featuring no less than 60 taps and a similar ethos and feel to their original, European-inspired venue in St Kilda. The news is positive for local breweries too, with the plan to showcase primarily breweries from Melbourne and Victoria, as well as local wines, cocktails and spirits, in a venue with a 200 capacity and a takeaway fridge for any flyers eager to grab beers to go.
Stomping Ground's directory of hospitality, Justin Joiner, told The Crafty Pint that Melbourne Airport has been increasingly eager to showcase genuinely local experiences and products, as they set about to do with the Terminal 3 brewpub. And they knew The Local Taphouse was a good way to champion local drinks while educating drinkers about beer.
“It’s to give that Melbourne or Victorian experience as soon as people land, or if they’re on the way out,” he says.
“We’ve got a great brand at The Local Taphouse that’s been established for 15 years and we can replicate that experience at the airport and showcase some great Victorian beer. We can also do all the usual stuff we do with tasting paddles and staff training to make they know what they’re talking about."
The Local Taphouse in St Kilda originally opened in its current guise more than a decade-and-a-half ago – even its popular monthly Ale Stars event recently turned 15 – and proved to be the springboard for a number of adventures in beer for the founders.
They opened a second Taphouse in Darlinghurst – later sold and, more recently, closed – while also creating both the Hottest 100 Aussie Craft Beers poll and GABS Festival, before selling both in 2019. In 2016, they added a brewery to their arsenal, opening the first Stomping Ground brewpub in Collingwood, which has since grown to include a brewpub in Moorabbin as well as the Melbourne Airport site.
While the timing of the opening of the brewpub in Terminal 3 couldn't have been worse – the nationwide COVID lockdown arrived just weeks later – it has bounced back as travel has returned and picked up the Spotlight Award at the 2023 Melbourne Airport Excellence Awards.
Announcing the latest partnership, Delaware North’s managing director Gary Brown said in a media statement: “We’re thrilled to be collaborating with the Taphouse/Stomping Ground team again and know that together we’re going to deliver another exceptional hospitality experience, this time in bringing the best of Melbourne to the Qantas terminal at Melbourne Airport.”
As for whether or not we'll ever see an airport Ale Stars, Justin says they're working through a loyalty program at the moment.
“We’d love to do something out there," he says. "We’re certainly offering something for St Kilda Ale Star members when they go through.
"We want to keep that community feel despite the fact that it’s a transient, airport environment."