“Fitzroy Street once had more foot traffic than Flinders Street,” says Liam Ganley, recalling a vibrant 19th-century St Kilda. One of the oldest railway stations in Victoria opened opposite The George Hotel in 1857 (now a tram stop), bringing locals and tourists to the bayside suburb.

Ganley (who owns The Fifth Province and Lemon, Middle and Orange) is nearly ready to open Freddie Wimpoles on the site of the former George Hotel.

It comes at a strange time for St Kilda after dark. The Espy is quiet and shuttered. Stokehouse is a construction site. Prince Bandroom now operates as a restaurant. The Gatwick Hotel is for sale.

“This end of Fitzroy Street [north of Canterbury Street] has been transforming over the past 12 months,” says Ganley. “The Saint [Hotel] has reopened. Milk the Cow is up the street, Luxembourg, Misery Guts.”

“There isn’t really a huge craft-beer offering at the moment, so I hope we can inspire other places,” Ganley says.

The venue is named after Frederick Wimpole, who became mayor of St Kilda in 1886. He also loved beer. Wimpole bought The George Hotel in 1873 and became director of The Melbourne Co-operative Brewing Company (which later became Carlton United Breweries) in Abbotsford in the early 1900s.

Thirteen varieties of beer will be available on tap when the venue opens on May 6, including a hoppy pale ale from Brooklyn Brewery, and a Peoples’ Choice tap that will rotate monthly.

New York-style deli offerings will include a Reuben sandwich and beer-poached hot dogs.

Ganley took design inspiration from some of his favourite dark and moody bars, such as Shady Pines in Sydney, and The Standard in Fitzroy. He describes it as "a Scandinavian-style hunting lodge meets American dive bar”, decorated with taxidermy and neon lights that create a wash of reds, blues and greens.

Freddie Wimpoles opens May 6 at 125 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda.

Sun to Wed 12pm–1am
Thu to Sat 12pm–3am