Looking to shake up your next pint? The Local Taphouse on Carlisle St is a temple to enabling such exploration. This is, after all, the venue first established by Steve Jaffares and Guy Greenstone, and which would later spur the founding of Stomping Ground Brewing Co and the GABS Craft Beer & Cider Festival. So yes, craft beer is taken seriously and you’ll recognise some of the beers and be introduced for the first time to others. Helpfully, the beer list above the bar is denoted by strength - so afternoons and evenings can be planned accordingly.
There's a strong old England-meets-Bavaria mood. Think dark timber panelling, in-laid mirrors, dim sconce lighting and a gallery of beer-dedicated frames, prints and portraits on the walls. Downstairs, there are high-top benches, round cabaret-esque tables flanking a small stage at the back, and a side room with larger tables (tip: groups of six to eight should make a left to snag the table in the cosy window nook for added privacy and a street outlook). The side room has the bonus of a dart board and worn brown Chesterfield sofas at the back. Upstairs is The Local Taphouse’s crowning glory: a rooftop beer garden that's a magnet for sesh and sun-seekers. Because this is Melbourne though, it's also fitted with a retractable roof, fireplace and heaters.
Service is casual and on an as-needed basis. We fend for ourselves when grabbing a table and are told all ordering can be done via QR code or up at the bars. For eats, the food menu happily doesn’t fall into the trap of ‘more is more’. Instead, it's a mix of staple pub-style fare - think usual suspects like chicken parma, beef burger, fish and chips - and some unexpected options channeling the venue’s Euro-influenced leanings. Our food takes 45 minutes to arrive and comes all at once (a disclaimer on the online menu calls this out), but our steak takes an extra 10 minutes after the snacks and first main.
Croquettes fit the bill of a deep-fried starter: golden coating, smooth filling. There is good bite from the cheddar, and the chilli-lime mayo is bright with a hint of heat. The mayo is the stronger flavour so we sauce each bite sparingly. The Taphouse fried chicken gives crunch to make the Colonel proud and the breading is well-spiced. Most importantly, the thicker breading doesn’t hide overcooked or dry chicken within. The Southern mayo is a tad too sweet though and we dunk in the croquettes’ mayo instead.
A slab of brisket is spoon-tender and doused in a wonderful sticky barbecue glaze; the perfect balance of smoky and sweet. A mountain of braised cabbage underneath is fine, but needs salt and something to add textural contrast against the soft chunks of kaiserfleisch and even softer vegetable. The behemoth 300g porterhouse is, in places, so tender we cut it with a butter knife. It’s rich and juicy, with a lick of smoke from the grill. One grizzle is just that: a gnarly thread of gristle at one end, but easy enough to slice off and push to the side. Of course, any good pub-style steak demands chips and the steakhouse-style fries here are top tier. Again though, the spuds and accompanying green peppercorn sauce need more salt.
The real draw at The Local Taphouse lies in the pours. More than 400 different beers are tapped every year and there are 19 on the go at any one time. There's a curated bottled list too. Also on the menu are weekly food specials, trivia nights and comedy gigs. Great for locals, those on dates and those meeting up with mates, plant yourself here on any given afternoon and let the good times roll.