Grampians Ale Works didn’t have a single beer on tap when it first opened its roller door in 2021. It was the Easter Long weekend, when Stawell braces for the athletics-induced tourism boom surrounding the annual Gift Race.
With a near-finished taproom and an opportunity on their hands, owners Shawna and Michael Dominelli – both winemakers in a former life – decided to run the Ale Works as a wine bar just to bring people in.
You can still get wine here, though it’s very much a taproom, as intended. A German-style pilsner and a Rye pale pour daily, and the Dominelli’s have plans for a witbier, IPA and dark ale series to follow. The whole vibe of the joint is to weave as much of the region’s raw, beer-making ingredients into every brew, spotlighting malt from Ballarat and bitter hops grown just outside Ararat. And until the Ale Works cranks up its own distillery, regional hand-crafted hooch, such as Fossey’s Gin from Mildura, completes the drinks list.
Happy hour is from 5pm to 6pm every Friday, which is prime time to pull up at the long communal table in the pint-sized bar. There’s an on-site kitchen, though food trucks roll through on a weekend.
Once a former drycleaners, the building had enough real estate and industrial chic to pull off a brewery and tasting bar in one. That, and one other major detail: an eye-catching mural that reads “Greetings from Stawell”, emblazoned down the side of the Ale Works’ facade.
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