Little Bang Brewing Co released its first beer less than four years ago. Now, owners Filip Kemp and Ryan Davidson are the new occupants of a 1000-square-metre warehouse on Henry Street in Stepney. It’s just down the road from their old home on Union Street, where Little Bang was based for three years.
The move has been a long time coming. “To brew [on Union Street] I had to pack down the retail side and unpack the brewing side, and vice versa,” says Kemp.
“In the middle of summer or winter we definitely got the sensation it was only gonna be cute for so long,” Davidson adds. “It was crowded, either super hot or cold, and a little bit nasty. Sometimes I’d be like, ‘I would not hang out here’. And yet people did.”
Those punters deserve Little Bang’s new brewery and cellar door, says Kemp. It’s huge – capacity is 290 people. To the left is the bar, a handful of beer-hall tables on a polished-concrete floor, some old-school arcade games and a soon-to-be kitchen. For now, food trucks will pull up in the car park.
A sprawling timber bench is all that’s between you and the brewery. “We decided against any sort of glass on day one,” says Davidson. “What people loved about our old place was they could come in and touch the fermenters and see what was going on,” says Kemp.
Yes, it’s a cavernous warehouse. But clever design gives parts of it an intimate feel. “We found Mountain Goat Brewery [in Melbourne] quite inspirational,” says Davidson.
Kemp has already begun brewing, though he’s expecting six extra fermenters next month. He predicts output will jump from 100,000 litres a year to 250,000. The canning line is new, quashing the need for off-site packaging. It means special releases, which were previously only available in kegs, can stick around a little longer in cans.
There’s a 20-tap line-up behind the bottle-green-tiled bar. Little Bang brews pour from around 16 of them. There’ll be a rotating selection of “weird stuff we rarely see” from the rest, says Davidson. You can take away in growlers or cans.
Add to that a dozen or so wines, including some by Ansel Ashby of Gatch Wines, whose production is now based alongside the fermenters. Also keep an eye out for Little Bang’s foray into wines (there’s already a white blend) and spirits. Basically, “A full gamut of alcohols,” Kemp says.
The kitchen is next up. But don’t expect typical “beer food” such as burgers and loaded fries when it’s operational early next year. “A lot of people do it and ... do it very well,” Kemp says. Also in the works is a “transportable” beer garden out front, a mezzanine level (and first-rate vantage point) above the bar and a function space enclosed by stacked-up barrels.
“It’s far from finished but we love the idea of people seeing it evolve,” says Kemp. “Just like they did at the old place,” Davidson adds.
Little Bang Brewing Co’s new brewery and cellar door opens this Thursday, December 13, at 4pm.
Little Bang Brewing Co
25 Henry Street, Stepney
Fri & Sat 12pm–10pm