The successful craft brewery has grown significantly in just six years using a solid formula of great produce, friendly service, and nurturing community.
It was just six years ago, in 2016, that business partners Steve Jeffares, Guy Greenstone and Justin Joiner started Stomping Ground. The craft brewery and beer hall has garnered a strong and loyal following across the city with venues in Collingwood, Moorabbin and Melbourne Airport that focus on a family-friendly environment with relaxed menus and of course, great beers.
The trio met in 2008 when Justin was the manager of Steve and Guy’s craft-brew business, The Local Taphouse in St Kilda.
The Local Taphouse was Melbourne’s first fully craft-beer-focussed venue, “We had 20 rotating taps of around 400 different beers,” says Justin, “there was always something new on there and it was through that, that we started talking about potentially doing a brew pub.”
The trio wanted to bring their hospitality backgrounds to the beer and brewery space. “There wasn’t much going on then,” Justin says, “A brewery may have had a small bar for tasting beers or food trucks would serve as a food offering. We wanted to do offer family friendly lunch and dinner in a brewing environment.”
They focussed their energies, split responsibilities across finances, marketing, and hospitality and decided the first employee they needed was a brewer.
“We’re not commercial brewers,” says Justin, “so we needed someone; someone who was making a name for themselves but not established yet.”
They found Ashur Hall, who is still with them as Stomping Ground’s head brewer.
“He was patient,” says Justin, “we had some delays with the build, and he worked at Local Taphouse as a bartender. He continues to produce amazing beers and worked by himself when he started, now, he has a team of 17.”
The popularity of Stomping Ground’s beers saw the Collingwood space outgrow itself quicker than expected. “The original building that we moved into in Collingwood was about 1500 square metres. We thought we were going to fit in everything, but it turned out we were naïve and needed much more space, so we took over an adjoining space,” says Justin.
Building the Stomping Ground community is a big part of the business’s culture, “The venues are a crucial part of who we are,” says Justin, “encouraging people to share experiences together over a beer and good meal.”
They always knew that there would be more venues but were approached by a developer in Moorabbin in 2017 who had just bought the old Philip Morris cigarette factory site.
“We got chatting to him and his plans resonated with us,” says Justin, “he didn’t want new buildings, he wanted to repurpose and to build a community hub and wanted us there as an anchor from a hospo perspective.”
Stomping Ground Moorabbin has been warmly received by the locals, “The response has been quite incredible,” he says, “it’s a great option for families and is a nostalgic, comfortable place but we also get involved in the community. We all live around the area and are involved in local sporting clubs and give donations for fundraisers. It has connected with people there.”
Community is also nurtured through the staff. Some of the Stomping Ground staff started as bartenders, “One of our senior brewers started with us as a bartender at The Local Tap 14 years ago,” says Justin, and it’s the way he suggests that anyone who is interested in brewing may just get a foot in the door.
“If I was a young man who wanted to get into brewing now, I would get a job at the bar of the brewery I wanted to work with and weasel my way in that way,” he says, “take the work, whether it’s picking up glasses, washing dishes, do anything you need. You’ve got to have a crack.”
Community also extends to Stomping Ground signing up to the Worksmith Industry Membership.
“We joined early on,” says Justin, “what they [Worksmith] were able to do through the pandemic and turn themselves into an industry resource, it was exactly what the industry needed with accurate up-to-date information that we could share with our staff.”
“I had met Michael [Bascetta, Worksmith co-founder] before but that support really resonated with me and since then, I have been keen to get involved in what they’re up to.”
Justin says they tap into suppliers that are affiliated with the membership like Chef’s Hat and he is very supportive of our events, “It’s good to be involved and create another community with our own staff. We do encourage our team to come along as it’s a good way to connect with others in industry.”
Even though it is a lot about beer – it’s the core of their business – Stomping Ground is an awful lot about connection, collaboration, quality and … community.