Hop Nation are set to open a new brewery in Footscray in late 2020, with their new site located mere minutes from their current home. In fact, anyone who’s ever been to the brewery will almost certainly have walked past the new location: the first block on the 109 Whitehall Street industrial zone where they've been brewing since 2016.
Hop Nation II is substantially bigger than the current site in order to meet the growing demand for their beers, a sizeable proportion of which are brewed off-site at present, and will see founders Sam Hambour and Duncan Gibson presiding over a 25 hectolitre brewhouse – a significant step up from their current 12 hec system. And, while there's a long way to go before the new brewery takes shape, Sam hopes they’ll start work on the empty block early next year.
“The ball’s rolling, Dunc’s in Germany at the moment researching new brewhouses and there’s a six month lead time there, so it’s happening but there’s a lot to do,” he says.
They intend to apply for a licence for 110 people at the new site but, with the brewery located within the Coode Island exclusion zone, there’s a chance capacity could be limited. Coode Island is a major petrol storage facility and is owned by the Port of Melbourne, which has in the past challenged planning applications.
The new Hop Nation brewery venue will also have its own kitchen; to date, they've relied on a rotating roster of food trucks.
“We kind of wanted to do it here but the kitchen space we were going to use quickly turned into a lab and an office,” Sam says. “We just want to open the space up to more of the community and I think part of that is offering food and making it more accessible; it's just about opening up those doors a bit."
As for the original brewery, while the bar’s likely to close, production will continue, with a focus on the barrel-aged, mixed ferment and other beers (and wines) under the Site FP banner that have allowed Sam and Dunc to meld their former lives as winemakers with their current ones of brewery owners; a Site site, if you will.