Grampians Ale Works didn’t have a single beer on tap when it first opened its rolling door in 2021. It was the Easter long weekend, when Stawell braced for the climate-induced tourism boom. athletics surrounding the annual gift run.
With a tavern nearing completion and an opportunity up for grabs, owners Shawna and Michael Dominelli – both winemakers in a past life – decided to run the Ale Works like a wine bar just to draw people in.
You can still get wine here, although it’s really a bar, as expected. A German-style pilsner and an everyday pale Rye, and the Dominellis have plans for a series of witbier, IPA and dark ale to follow. The overall vibe of the joint is to weave as many of the region’s raw beer-making ingredients into each brew, spotlighting Ballarat malt and bitter hops grown just outside Ararat. And until the Ale Works launches its own distillery, regional craft hoops, such as Mildura’s Fossey’s Gin, round out the drink list.
Happy hour is 5-6 p.m. every Friday, which is peak time to stop by the pint-sized long communal bar table. There’s a kitchen on-site, though food trucks come by on the weekends.
Once a former dry cleaner, the building had enough real estate and industrial chic to house both a brewery and a tasting bar. That, and another major detail: an eye-catching mural that reads “Greetings from Stawell”, emblazoned on the side of the facade of the Ale Works.