By James Wells
Little Creatures has confirmed it will open its new brewery in Geelong by early 2013 and revealed the site will also include a range of facilities including a new branded dining hall.
According to Little Creatures head of creative development and marketing, Miles Hull, the 11-hectare Geelong site, originally a 1920s woollen mill, is currently being renovated for the brewer's future needs.
"First and foremost the Geelong site is a brewery and packaging facility that will enable us to grow well into the future. The Fremantle site, producing Little Creatures beers, despite upgrades and expansion has reached its capacity. Looking to the future we need to meet demand for a national footprint for our brand," he said.
"Despite WA being our home market and also our strongest market, the collective markets of the Eastern seaboard is where our future lies – particularly as we have seen great growth in Victoria recently and solid growth in New South Wales.
"Therefore it makes sense that we need to build a second facility close to where our future growth lies," Hull said.
In terms of structure, Fremantle will continue to be the company’s registered office and administrative centre with a small number of administration and logistical roles to be located in Geelong and supported by additional offices located at the Little Creatures Dining Hall in Fitzroy in Melbourne.
Speaking of dining halls, Hull has confirmed there are also plans to create a restaurant as part of the new brewery.
"We can't help ourselves with a bit of hospitality and the dining hall plays a part in the overall brand experience. The Geelong site lends itself to some hospitality and a visitation centre, but we are still determining what the look and feel will be like," he said.
While this is a substantial investment, Hull says the scale of the Little Creatures operation is still small compared to that of the major players such as Carlton United Brewers.
"We often joke that what the CUB brewery at Abbotsford spills in a day is more than what we can produce in a year. The mass market will continue to be dominated by the major players," he said.
"But there is a strong future for craft beer. The next generation of drinkers will not know a world without craft beer and the market will continue to broaden its reach with more breweries coming online. That is exciting for Little Creatures – the more people drinking craft the better."