Next to a giant chimney, you will find the new White Rabbit Brewery and Barrel Hall, nestled in the laneways of the Little Creatures Brewery Village in Geelong.
The brewery started in Healesville, Victoria in the Yarra Valley with the original brew kit from Little Creatures plus two large, open top fermenters. After outgrowing its original location, it has relocated inside the Little Creatures Brewery Village in South Geelong in December 2015.
White Rabbit Brewery
With a motto of “Fermentation with Imagination”, what set White Rabbit Brewery apart are two main components: open fermentation and barrel ageing.
Barrel Hall Entry
A visit to White Rabbit Brewery is an immersive experience with a path laid out to take visitors on a journey. Step through the door with the circular window into the Barrel Hall and you’ll be met by rows of barrels quietly ageing beer on one side. On the other side, you’ll see the workings of the brewery, with fermenters and equipment hissing and whirring.
The Barrel Hall is a marvel that leads onto the tasting room but you don’t want to rush there. There are plaques that explain the brewing process and up a few steps, you’ll see the two open fermenters, Jake and Elwood.
Open Fermenters – Jake and Elwood
“Open fermentation is about traditional ways of brewing using modern equipment”, Head Brewer Jeremy Halse explains. “It keeps the yeast happy”, he adds.
Elwood – Photo Courtesy of Jeremy Halse, Head Brewer
“The yeast rises in its own time and it’s about collecting it when it’s ready”. The process also influences the ester profile of the beer and its yeast character.
Opposite the two open fermenters are original Little Creatures fermenters from Fremantle gleaming in their stainless steel glory.
The Dark Ale begins life in open fermenters. The yeast is collected, the beer taken out and placed it into cylindrical fermenters where it chills, allowing the yeast to settle before it is filtered and packaged.
The soon to be released Red Ale is also made in the open fermenters but undergoes a somewhat unique process. “We co-ferment wine and beer”, Jeremy explains. There is a spontaneous ferment of Shiraz grape skins. The grapes are crushed and destemmed at the winery. They’re topped with fermented grape juice to get the second fermentation in the barrels.
The 225 litre barrels are all ex red wine barrels, mainly French and American oak from Australian wineries in the Barossa and Mornington Peninsula. The barrels are cleaned with hot water, filled with water than tasted. “With the barrels, we’re not looking at oak character but a place to harbour wild yeast and bacteria.”
Base of Fermenters
The tour continues past the base of the fermenters and leads onto a small collection of barrels standing upright.
GABS Festival Beer
The beer is destined for the GABS Festival, a beefed up Berliner Wiess, low alcoholic and acidic wheat beer, gone into ex Starward whisky casks. “We call it the Whisky Sour.”
Unfortunately, the beer wasn’t ready to taste but a quick nosing through the bottles highlighted the whisky character that will soon be imparted.
The two large vessels at the end are storage beer tanks. White Rabbit Beer is pumped out to next building at Little Creatures for bottling and packaging.
Jeremy Halse, Head Brewer
White Rabbit Brewery Tasting
At White Rabbit Brewery, you could choose your own tasting adventure from the entire range of beer available on tap.
White Rabbit Cellar Door
White Rabbit Dark Ale (4.9% ABV) brings subtle fruit notes along with caramel, toffee and chocolate in a roasty and malty brew that retains lightness on the palate. The creamy texture along with the mild hop bitterness makes it a sessionable beer to enjoy at any time.
White Rabbit White Ale (4.5% ABV) is a classic Belgian style, a wheat beer with wheat character and not a lot of hops. Refreshing but complex and easy drinking, it has coriander seeds, juniper and orange peel added which impart subtle botanical notes to the beer.
White Rabbit Pale Ale (4.9% ABV) is a Belgian style pale made using the same yeast strain as the White Ale. Funky nose but rather pleasant, it starts strong upfront then mellows with a strong malt backbone.
White Rabbit Red Ale
White Rabbit Red Ale (4.9% ABV) is soon to be bottled and released and is the star of the range. 30% of it is barrel-aged between 3 and 12 months in red wine barrels with grape skins. The yeast from the grape skins causes a second fermentation, and with lactobacillus added for sourness, the flavour is that of a classic malt and red wine and some oak influence. The red wine is evident on the nose followed by a hint of oak, and a sweet, sour and bitter profile play together well in good balance. This beer is truly “fermentation with imagination”.
White Rabbit Teddywidder (3.2% ABV) is a Berliner Weisse style made from the wort of the white ale. The kettle soured overnight to produce a tart and tangy flavour profile. Cloudy, yeasty and light yellow in colour, this style of beer is traditionally served with flavoured syrups such as the Belvoir Rhubarb and strawberry syrup which retains the tartness of the beer and gives it a sweet sour character.
White Rabbit Hoppy Wanderer is a limited release, a tart style of beer with 3 yo bright ale aged in ex Chardonnay barrels. “Complex and confusing”, it’s a hoppy tart beer with lots of citrus on the nose and grapefruit notes.
White Rabbit Brewery Cellar Door
Providore at White Rabbit Brewery
Aside from sampling the range of brews, White Rabbit Brewery’s cellar door experience has a focus on food designed to complement the beer.
Snack on Roasted Mixed Nuts, Mount Zero marinated olives, or a Rustic Tomato Tart while you enjoy your first beer. Or choose from the selection of cured meats and cheese which includes La Boqueria Salchichon, a Northern Spanish style salami, La Hoguera Gran Reserve Serrano Ham with Born and Bread Baguette, Maffra Cloth Matured Cheddar, Mountain Man by L’artisan French style washed rind accompanied by house made lavosh and quince paste. Everything on the menu is available for purchase from the on-site providore.
In the evening, the choice of food includes hearty dishes such as beef bourguignon, confit duck and rustic meatballs for a winter menu experience while live music by young acoustic solo artists on select nights adds to the experience beside a roaring fireplace.
- White Rabbit Brewery is located at the corner of Swanston St & Fyans St in Geelong, Victoria.
- Geelong is an easy 25 minute drive from Avalon Airport.
- White Rabbit Brewery is open Sunday to Thursday 11 am to 5pm; Friday and Saturday 11 am to 9pm
Gourmantic travelled to Geelong and visited White Rabbit Brewery as guests of White Rabbit Brewery.
Except where noted, photography © by Kevin Burke for Gourmantic – Copyright: All rights reserved. Contact us if you wish to purchase any of our photographs.
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