The Little Creatures Brewery in Geelong does quite a few things more than just brew beer. It’s all about customer experience, seeing the 1924 red brick factory with its towering chimney, anticipation of walking through the lane way and meeting up with some “creatures” as the staff like to refer to themselves.
Little Creatures Brewery, Geelong
What was originally wool mill became the East Coast home of Little Creatures in Geelong in 2012. This new brewery provided a base for the east coast and allowed for expansion with new tanks and equipment to be installed and plenty of room to expand further, up to ten times the size of the founding brewery in Fremantle, in the future. With an aim of being a part of the local community the brewery includes The Canteen, a space to dine, to enjoy the brews with friends and family. In 2015, the White Rabbit Brewery moved into their own space on site. In case you were wondering, the Little Creatures name is a nod to the live yeast in its signature Pale Ale.
Little Creatures Brewery from Above
Little Creatures is credited with bringing craft American style pale ale to Australia. In 2000, they set out to brew the first hop character beer and to create an expression around those hops as the dominant feature of the beer. The brewery on the West Coast in Fremantle, an old crocodile farm, commenced production and soon started shipping to the east coast to which some say this was the commencement of the craft beer revolution in Australia.
Little Creatures is all about the essential oils and resins of the hops which deliver the aromas, the flavours and its bitter finish while also acting as a natural preservative. A combination of fresh flowers and cones as well as pellets are used in the process.
The reason these hops are so important is the way that Little Creatures uses them. They use them late in the process to obtain the distinctive aromatics in their beers. The over twenty different varieties of hops available at Little Creatures are balanced by the brewers to ensure that the quality and taste is always maintained for the existing styles and for experimenting with new styles. Because of the fundamental importance of hops to the process and with hops coming from the USA, the hop room is a quarantined space.
The delicate hop oils and aromas are retained by the use of a hop back which saves them from being boiled off. The hops are put in a what is essentially a big tea bag basket with sweet wort, that is where the sugars have been extracted from the barley, passing through the hops and imparting the flavours.
The yeast, the strain being on a need to know basis and is also stored in a yeast bank in Denmark, is then added so as to eat the sugars which in turn produces alcohol and CO2 and this commences the fermentation process. After fermentation, the beer is course filtered for eight hours removing yeast and solids but allowing for its colour and body to remain.
The Geelong brewery is double the capacity of its older sibling at Fremantle which still brews. That is why the neck label says Little Creatures Geelong and Fremantle as the ethos is to produce quality beer that is equal from the two breweries. To ensure this consistency, the brewers from both breweries meet on a regular basis to blind taste and confirm this is the case. To take into account the different weather conditions, temperature controlled fermenters are used to account for any climate fluctuations between the two breweries.
All bottles are locally produced and when in full swing this room is the hub for all bottling and packaging.
Little Creatures looks to recycle and be environmentally friendly as possible from supplying local farms with feed from the brew waste to capturing the excess heat from the boiler room, the kettles in the brew house and redirecting it to a CO2 plant for storage under pressure to be used for the generation of heat for the buildings and for the next 10,000 litres of water for the tanks.
The White Room
As you make your way through the brewery there is The White Room which shows the history of these buildings from its inception as The Valley Worsted Mills which started in 1924 through the Great Depression, World War 2 and the great Geelong floods of 1951 and 1952. Those big walls surrounding the site were constructed to protect against future floods. Little Creatures looks to continue the history and the community of this historic location.
At the bar, settle in and you can try a tasting flight of your choosing or there might be just that favourite that you want to relax with.
Furphy (4.4% ABV) has been brewed in Geelong using all Victorian ingredients. It has been modeled on a kolsch but is an Australian style pale ale with mellow flavours and is not very hop driven. Furphy is crisp, refreshing and easy drinking with lots of body.
Little Creatures Pilsner (4.5% ABV) is styled more on a Northern German pilsner and is crisp and light with more hops and a good measure of bitterness.
Little Creatures Bright Ale (4.5% ABV) is an approachable summer ale that is refreshing with aromas of fresh hops and citrus when you give it a swirl in the glass. This is fruitier with plenty of hops and the bitterness dialed back.
Rogers Beer (3.8% ABV) is an amber ale with butterscotch and toffee notes with the malt in evidence and makes for a sessionable beer.
Little Creatures Pale Ale (5.2% ABV) is the original beer and has been modeled on an American style pale ale. There are plenty of hops on show as well as stone fruit like peach and apricot. This is the Hero beer and like the brewery is both bold and colourful.
Little Creatures IPA (6.4% ABV) is made from the wonderful selection of fresh hops in the hop store. Then add some more hops for good measure with some citrus aromas and bitterness on the finish. There are more hops here than a paddock of kangaroos.
Dog Days Summer Beer (4.4% ABV) is the current seasonal beer at Little Creatures. Dog Days is a wheat ale which is a balance of fruit with its hoppy character. The next seasonal will be their winter beer due sometime in the middle of May.
While everyone is serious about making good beer, there is also a sense of not being too serious with The Little Creatures Canteen a relaxed space serving up quality food from nibbles to share plates and pizzas to accompany the beers and other available drinks. At the end of the week, there are the likes of magicians to clowns wandering through for entertainment. In the lane way there is seating to watch the sun go down and a sandpit to keep the young children amused.
The recycling ethos flows to The Canteen as well with the bar and kitchen areas being the shipping containers that the tanks and equipment were sent out from Germany in and the tables being made in house from the pallets that were used to ship the bottles.
Yes, the fridge is where we want to keep our beer cold but here you will find a place to get your hands on some cool cash.
There are the community bikes to use free of charge until sunset. While on the second Sunday of each month, craft markets are held. In the lane way you will find a resident Kombi Van and cement mixer drums being given a new lease on life as homes to olive trees.
- Little Creatures Brewery is located at the corner of Swanston St & Fyans St in Geelong, Victoria.
- Geelong is an easy 25 minute drive from Avalon Airport and just a little over an hour by train from Spencer St Station in Melbourne.
- Little Creatures Brewery is open Monday to Tuesday 10 am to 5pm; Wednesday to Friday 10 am to 10pm; Saturday and Sunday 8am to 10pm
- Tours available Monday to Thursday at 11am or Friday to Sunday at 11am, 3pm and 5pm (not available public holidays)
Photography © by Gourmantic – Copyright: All rights reserved.
Corner of Swanston St & Fyans St in Geelong, Victoria
Gourmantic travelled to Geelong and visited Little Creatures as guests of White Rabbit Brewery.
More in the Geelong series:
This article is posted on Gourmantic.com - All rights reserved - Copyright © 2016.