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New lease of life for top Aussie beer bar

The new leaseholders of one of Australia’s best beer bars plan to “restore it to its prime” as they also hope to open craft beer venues in Sydney’s CBD and on the Gold Coast this year.

New hospitality business Thorpe Group Limited, that took over the lease at The Taphouse in the inner-Sydney suburb of Darlinghurst late last year, will later this month unveil an all-weather rooftop bar with a retractable roof while plans are afoot to create an all-new bar concept on the second floor.

While it’s too early to confirm any concrete details at this stage, they are also in talks to open a venue in downtown Sydney and a further two in South East Queensland.

“Not that long ago The Taphouse was rated the best beer bar in Australia (Beer & Brewer magazine’s 2019 awards)… so we’re going to bring it back to that standard, restore it to its prime, and stick to our guns as far as championing independent Australian-owned breweries and be more involved with those breweries,” the group’s general manager/director Josh Thorpe said.

Josh launched the Thorpe Hospitality Group with his brother James back in 2017 before purchasing The Taphouse from Stomping Ground’s Steve Jeffares and Guy Greenstone. The group also launched the Odd Culture bar on The Taphouse’s second floor before establishing the Odd Culture Bottle Shop and purchasing The Oxford Tavern last year. The brothers have now ungrouped that hospitality business with Josh’s Thorpe Group Limited taking over the lease at The Taphouse while James has created the Odd Culture Group – taking all of the intellectual property from the original bar and bottle shop concepts and the Oxford Tavern lease.

Read our story here about the Odd Culture Group’s plans for the new Odd Culture bar set to open in Newtown in the coming months.

James (left) and Josh Thorpe

Josh currently lives on the Gold Coast and he said that is where he ultimately sees the future for his group.

“The Taphouse will definitely continue to be a major focus of ours because that place is a gold mine. But the Gold Coast expansion is where the business is going and we’ve got two venues that we’re looking at there at the moment alongside one in downtown Sydney. But we haven’t even entered into contract talks with those yet,” Josh said.

He said the Gold Coast area was ripe for new ventures similar to the Taphouse as the region’s thirst for craft beer was only being quenched by a handful of venues and brew pubs.

“If things go to plan the Gold Coast venues would be similar in concept to The Taphouse – with absolute support for the local independent breweries.

“I think that’s the sort of concept that would work fantastically up here. And you can definitely educate people about buying and supporting local and get quite large and successful venues up and running.”

As far as The Taphouse goes, that model will continue under new licensee Phill Strudwick-Barker who was formerly general manager at The Lansdowne Hotel and venue manager at The Pumphouse.

“This change has provided a great opportunity for us to not only build on the legacy of The Taphouse, but also further cement our position among the elite independent beer venues in Sydney,” Phill said.

“Our relationships with breweries and distributors are stronger than ever, with plenty of events planned for 2021, including the continuation of our popular Ale Stars each month.

“To be given these platforms to showcase unique beers from all around the world, many exclusive to The Taphouse, is a very exciting prospect for me.

“The whole team is eagerly looking to the future, as we move to rebrand and reimagine the venue’s middle level (formerly Odd Culture) and create something entirely new on the rooftop.”

As well as the retractable roof, the renovations to the rooftop area include new furniture and plants while there will be a stronger emphasis put on fresh fruit cocktails with the addition of a commercial juicer.

The first Ale Stars event at The Taphouse for 2021 is on Wednesday 20 January with Wayward Brewing showcasing four limited release beers as well as their W Seltzer Mango hard seltzer. Tickets can be purchased here for $45 which includes paired beers with a two course meal and a discussion with Wayward’s brewers.

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