The hottest new craft breweries are coming to an airport near you

Small, independent breweries have taken another small step into the mainstream, with two among their number poised to open airport bars.

Fyshwick-based Capital Brewing Co will open a bar at Canberra Airport, while Collingwood's Stomping Ground Brewing Co will open one at Melbourne Airport, complete with an on-site brewery.

When Stomping Ground mashes in for the first time at Tullamarine, it will be operating one of only five airport breweries in the world, according to co-founder Justin Joiner.

"We will be the second in the Southern Hemisphere. The others our research found were Airbräu (Munich Airport), Cigar City Brewery (Tampa, Florida), Tivoli Brewing at Tom's Urban Kitchen (Denver) and Airport Craft Brewers (Johannesburg)," he said.

"We're 'airside' with this brewery, so we're literally going to be putting bags of malt through scanners as you would your hand luggage."

Terminally good taste

With a background in running pubs, the Stomping Ground team are among Australia's most proficient at combining beer and hospitality.

But they are opening the Terminal 3 venue in partnership with global hospitality company Delaware North, having quickly realised the specialist expertise involved.

"There's just layers of complexity that you don't have, when you're in the city. I was at a meeting the other day and I found out that the knives in the kitchen are tethered to the benches," Joiner recalls.

"Delaware North has years of experience and that sort of stuff is second nature to them, they operate in airports all over the world."


The taps have it

There will be no brewery at Capital Brewing's airport bar, but managing director Laurence Kain says visitors can expect a very similar experience to that of their home base, with 12 taps of Capital beers on offer.

"We've done a partnership with Airport Retail Enterprises. They run all the food and beverage out there, so it makes it a lot easier," he said.

"But as part of our agreement with them, the staff will need to meet a certain minimum level of beer training, and they need to do a brewery tour at Capital with our team.

"We're going to be pretty active in making sure the staff over there are engaged and educated about beer."

Variety is the spice of flights

The brewery bars have come about as both airports express a desire to showcase the unique food and drink available in their regions. 

"Melbourne is one of the world's top food destinations, so it is important that our food and beverage offering reflects the amazing variety of food found across our wonderful city," said Melbourne Airport chief of retail, Andrew Gardiner.

Other new arrivals at Melbourne Airport include Pickett's Deli and Moors Restaurant, from Melbourne restaurateurs Scott Pickett and Shane Delia respectively, along with Earl Canteen, Cobb Lane, Axil Coffee Roasters and Proud Mary.

Adjust your travel plans

Canberra will welcome a cafe serving coffee from local roaster Ona, along with several new food outlets.

"It's great to see airports giving the public what they want, which is interesting, independently-owned Australian products," said Kain.

Stomping Ground aims to be operational by December 2019, while Capital hopes to be up and running by the end of this coming summer.

James Atkinson is creator of the Drinks Adventures podcast and a previous editor of Australian Brews News and drinks industry publication TheShout. A Certified Cicerone® and 2017 winner of the Australian International Beer Awards media prize, James regularly contributes to other publications including Halliday, Good Food, QantasLink Spirit and more.