By James Atkinson
Lion’s decision to close the White Rabbit site at Healesville and relocate its production to Geelong came out of left field for Little Creatures co-founder Phil Sexton, who owns the Innocent Bystander winery next door.
Sexton told TheShout that the Healesville site was developed by Innocent Bystander, Little Creatures and Beechworth Bakery with the intention of all three parties working together to make the complex viable.
“We have co-depended upon each other for the past seven years, so this is a little like pulling the leg off a tripod,” he said.
“This caught me by surprise as I thought that they intended to keep going in Healesville; naturally, I am very disappointed.”
“We are waiting to discuss with them as to the future and how the remaining partners move forward,” Sexton said.
We might have done the same: Howard Cearns
However, Little Creatures always intended to move brewing of the larger volume White Rabbit SKUs to Geelong, Howard Cearns – Sexton’s former colleague at Creatures – told TheShout.
“White Rabbit had grown strongly and was going to outgrow where it was in Healesville,” he said.
“Whether that meant that we would close Healesville was debatable, but we certainly would have been brewing White Rabbit at Geelong out of necessity.
“In an ideal world White Rabbit gets brewed at Geelong and Healesville continues in a more experimental way.
“However, I think we would have definitely had the same discussion… ‘is it just sensible that we get it all in the one place and make great beer’?” said Cearns.
Cearns said White Rabbit was always owned and developed by Little Creatures, so it wouldn’t be out of place as its tenant at Geelong.