“Love all, serve all” is the motto of the once-ubiquitous Hard Rock Cafes, but it has found its modern incarnation in the rambunctious Stomping Ground beer hall. Inspired by the cavernous European beer halls, but reimagined as a community hub, on any given night you will find the converted warehouse packed with beer lovers and dog lovers, trestle tables jammed full of families and couples huddled in a corner booth. The racks at the front door will be overflowing with bikes, locals will be ducking in to grab some takeaway and the 30-odd taps will be doing some serious business.
The space is split roughly in half; on the beer garden side, with a retractable roof, you will find the huge wooden fort that looks like something made by Peter Pan’s Lost Boys. The elevated deck contains mostly families with kids stealing a slice of pizza before rushing back to the fort and trying not to trip over the lazing pooches. If things do go a bit Lord of the Flies (and they can) switching over to the front bar quiets things down a notch. Both spaces are going with a dark industrial look offset with quirky touches like a bathtub full of plants or vintage cabinetry bearing metal animal heads.
The whole thing is backlit by the huge floor-to-ceiling windows showing off the rows of shiny silver brewing tanks and the staff hard at work brewing the beers.
Those beers are found on the rows taps at the central bar, quirky brews like the Where’s Your Red At red ale or a dark sour that was apparently a “mistake” but is still well worth a try; like the décor here it is ok if things are a bit rough around the edges as long as they still work. Go for a boilermaker, a beer and a shot, that might team a Stomping Ground Hanging Rauch with a Caol Ila scotch from the Isle of Islay.
The food is elevated pub grub with gloriously gooey Manchego cheese and corn croquettes with a tart lime aioli, haloumi fingers and spiced bar nuts. Pizzas come flying out of the open kitchen but the pick of the bunch is the nduja, though the BBQ rump burger rivals it for a local fave. Service is slick but personal with staff taking the time to talk you through the options not just rack ‘em, pack ‘em and stack ‘em.
There is a lot of care here from the fittings to the staff and it shows. There’s a warmth to Stomping Ground that doesn’t just come from the industrial-sized wood heaters that are central to both spaces. This brew pub has become more than the sum of parts, and has cooked up a community space, where you can dine, date and amuse the kids, that just happens to sell damn good beer.