Little Creatures was established in 2000 by the same guys who ran Matilda Bay Brewery. The name was inspired by the album of the same name by Talking Heads, and refers to the yeast that turns the sugars in the wort into alcohol. Over the last 12 years, it has become Fremantle’s #1 tourist destination, is a major part of the Fremantle community and has spread its empire to the other side of the country, all the way to Fitzroy in Melbourne.
We were really excited to go on the brewery tour, which runs daily between 1pm and 3pm. Our tour guide Sean was great and talked about the beginnings of the brewery, the processes involved in making Little Creatures beer, and we even got a tasting session at the end.
The building was originally built as a boatshed before being turned into a crocodile farm. When Little Creatures took over, they wanted to transform the place into a brewery with a cellar door feel. We think they’ve achieved this quite nicely with beer being served to the public directly out of 4000L fermentation tanks, and the feeding platforms from the old crocodile farm are now being used as platforms by happy diners enjoying a beer and a meal.
Little Creatures have been brewing in Fremantle since 2000 – when they first started, they used small 30L kegs and delivered their beer to local pubs in their Kombi Ute ‘Elsie’. In 2008, another brewery in Healesville was started and they shipped their original equipment to Victoria to establish the White Rabbit Brewery. They are currently setting up a brewery in Geelong to supply the east coast of Australia while the Fremantle brewery focuses on the WA supply.
The beer making process is relatively standard. After they crush and shell the malt, it is mixed with hot water in the mash tun to make a porridge that will break down into sweet wort. This wort is separated from the porridge and the byproduct leftover is sent to local farms to feed their cows.
The filtered wort then undergoes sterilisation in the kettle before being hopped, filtered, and hopped again. Fresh hop flowers are added to the wort via a hop vat, of which only three are in Australia, and Little Creatures own all three of them.
Finally, the hopped wort is left to ferment – ale about 12 days to ferment while the pilsner needs about 21 days – and then it is packaged and distributed.
After the tour, we sampled the Little Creatures range, including an exclusive small batch.
- Small Batch Shepherd’s Delight Red IPA – 6.4% a golden orange beer with a fruity, sweet smell and subtle smoke flavours, mandarin and some gentle hops, despite the 5 varieties of hops they use.
- Pilsner – 4.6% Little Creatures’ only lager that uses 100% barley malt. Zesty and fruity with sweetness and a crisp, refreshing yeasty finish.
- Bright Ale – 4.5% a fruity and sweet golden ale with gentle hops and a clean finish.
- Rogers – 3.8% an amber ale with gentle hops and sweet caramelised malt that gives the yeast less sugar to eat, thus a lower alcohol beer.
- Pale Ale – 5.2% the first Little Creatures beer. An American style pale ale with tropical fruits, a good body and sweet finish.
- Pipsqueak Apple Cider – 5.2% The cider is made from granny smith and pink lady apples that have been fermented with sauvignon blanc yeast. Apple juice is added to the end product to adjust the alcohol content and reduce the tartness of the cider, creating a fresh and crisp taste with the perfect balance of sweetness and a tart bite.
- White Rabbit White Ale – 4.5% Juz’s favourite beer. A cloudy Belgian style white beer with light malt, orange peel, coriander and juniper, it is an absolute pleasure to drink.
We were lucky enough to be at Little Creatures during their Thursday Firkin Night, which involves tasting a new beer. We sampled a brew that was a combination of American and Belgion style beers – Small Batch Quiet American and Little Creatures Pale Ale. It was quite sweet with lots of herbs and spices and very easy to drink.
The dining hall of the brewery is set right in the middle of the entire operation. We thought it was really cool that when you approach the bar and ask for a beer, it is served directly from a 4000L fermentation tank that is suspended over the bar.
The walls are lined with booth seating and there were beer gardens at either end of the hall. All food is made from fresh, local produce with the intention to ‘support the small guy’, and there are 55 people working in the kitchen to push out up to 6 tonnes of delicious food each week.
We started off with a big bowl of frites with garlic aioli. Each addictive chip was well seasoned and cut in a rustic fashion. They had a buttery crunch that made us assume that they used a waxy variety of potato to give it a creamy texture, but there was another flavour that we couldn’t quite put our finger on – it must be awesomeness.
Pizzas were next – Italian pork and fennal sausage with bocconcini and Harissa spiced lamb with feta and melanzane. The Italian pork sausage pizza was covered in tomato sauce with a young acidic flavour that overpowered the flavour of the sausage. The bocconcini was mild and added a great texture. The harissa lamb pizza was full of exotic flavours and spice with a generous sprinkle of salty feta. The base of both pizzas was crisp and well cooked without any sogginess.
After the pizzas, we ordered a plate of refried bean nachos to share. It was piled high like an ugly mountain of red, green and yellow, but despite the amount of toppings, each corn chip was still super crisp. The beans were hot and spicy and generated some great warmth in the chest while the sour cream and guacamole were cool enough to extinguish the flame. The jalapeños were a burst of juicy zing and it wasn’t long before the plate was empty.
The Little Creatures Brewery is located on Mews Road in Fremantle and is open everyday for tours of the brewery, and for brunch, lunch and dinner. Stop by for a quick bite and brew or make a night of it with friends and a few pints of your favourite ale.