Lion’s craft beer bar brand Malt Shovel is set to open its second venue on the Sunshine Coast, with plans to open a further three sites across the country this year.
The new 1,000 square metre Malt Shovel Taphouse will be located at Stockland Birtinya, an $87 million shopping complex featuring 40 stores.
Lion is launching the bar as a joint venture with existing customers Michelle Christoe and Ian Van der Woude, directors at Food Focus Australia. The site will offer live music, beer events and family entertainment, and an additional 400 capacity events and function space.
The 40-tap bar will feature rotating craft beers from brewers including the eponymous Malt Shovel, White Rabbit, Eumundi, Byron Bay Brewing, Furphy, Kosciuszko, Little Creatures, Brooklyn Brewery and Panhead.
Lion business development manager Adam Keane said that the venues, which started with a site in Adelaide launched in November 2018, are part of a bigger project to enable the business to showcase its ‘craft beer’ brands.
“What we wanted to do within the hospitality team was to create a craft beer-led venue which gave us the opportunity to range our whole portfolio of craft beer as well as have standard classic and contemporary beers as well.
“From our perspective, when you look at the beer landscape at the minute, craft only takes up a small percentage of the category.
“There are lots of drinkers out there that are not drinking craft beer and we think they should be.”
While purists still debate definitions of craft, the concept of craft beer has become mainstream and commercially viable to the point where it is able to support a full taproom and major companies like Lion and Stockland investing in it.
Keane explained that the company is aware of the issues, but there’s room for everyone in the market.
“People want passionate people making a great product and I can say hand on heart that we have those people,” he said.
“We make some of the best craft beer in the country and have some of the most passionate brewers, with the backing of Lion behind them as well.
“We want to ensure that if people [as drinkers] aren’t into craft they’ve got an easy way of going in. There’s a place for us and a place for independents.”
The venue on the Sunshine Coast was the perfect spot for the next Malt Shovel, said Keane.
“[Stockland] were looking at a craft beer-led venue that would be an anchor tenant of both the shopping centre and the wider area.
“We started negotiations early [with the operators] and early on we looked at the Sunshine Coast. It’s got a burgeoning craft market and there’s a lot of population growth, so from an operational standpoint the operator was wise in the decision.”
He explained that once the business is up and running, Lion supports the operators rather than dictating how the place should be run.
“In terms of that operational piece, we support the operator through design to open, then we do post-operation support.
“We’re not here to run these businesses – they’re multi venue owner operators on their own – we want to support driving beer culture through these venues and through themes.”
Alongside the Adelaide Malt Shovel site, Lion runs James Squire-branded brewhouses, the Byron Bay Brewery and XXXX Alehouse in Brisbane, amongst others.They have a venue arm employing 500 people across the country.
“Generally people will go to venues may not but may not know [that they’re all brands from Lion]. It will be at the point of purchase on that beer journey that they’ve got a visual guide, and the staff will be well trained [to discuss the different beers].
“We want to make sure we have a hospitality-led concept, with a great range of spirits, and cocktails too, but showcasing craft across all liquids and foods and make surely that’s first and foremost.
Lion is always about going over and above for the customer, and when we’ve got this great network within our company we want to share that.
The new Malt Shovel operators Michella Christoe and Ian Van der Woude, directors at Food Focus Australia, run pop-up bars, as well as working on the NightQuarter Precinct on the Gold Coast, including The Paddock Live Music venue. They said the venue will be a chance to educate drinkers about craft beer.
“Malt Shovel Taphouse will be a playful way to explore the quenching, cracking and flavour-packing beers in the Malt Shovel lineup,” they said.
The focus will be on creating ‘exbeeriences’ for locals in a coastal location, said the pair, whose Food Focus business transforms unused spaces into hospitality and entertainment venues.
“The Sunshine Coast is a high growth region in Queensland attracting a leisure lifestyle that suits the Malt Shovel Taphouse offer.
“As operators and consultants, we create immersive experiences, build communities and incubating talent.
“We are big believers about creating these experiences outside of CBD areas.
Educating beer drinkers about craft beer is a key aim of the new venue, they said.
“Australians are reaching out for craft beers more than ever. It is the only segment of the Australian beer market which is in continuous growth.
“Malt Shovel Taphouse is about educating customers about the world of craft beer.
“We are excited to be the first partner in Queensland to bring this concept to life. It is a bold and immersive concept that will explore the world of craft for Sunshine Coast beer lovers.”
The Malt Shovel Taphouse will open mid-September 2019.