White Rabbit

In 2014, White Rabbit's owner Lion announced that the brewery's original home in Healesville was to close. The operation was to move to the site already occupied by big sibling brewery Little Creatures in Geelong.

Despite the fact the brewery was to continue operating, there were still noises around the beer world that this was a sign of a change for the worse – an inevitable change for a microbrewery now under major brewery ownership. Would the unique physical brewery be retained or would White Rabbit merely become another brand within the Lion empire, with beers brewed at whichever brewery had a suitable capacity; after all, its more popular beers were already brewed offsite to meet ever-growing capacity.

While the May 2015 date for the opening of the new brewery was missed, by the end of that year the new brewery was open. And no one could deny that the new home was impressive. Part brewery, part barrel room, part educational visitor centre, it's one the makes full use of the greater space available in the old Geelong factories.

The open fermenters installed when the original site opened in 2009 are still there, as are key members of the brewing team, who are now focusing much of their attention on taking the sort of experiments they were carrying out on a tiny scale in Healesville into larger dimensions: well over 100 barrels are filled with beers that will result in, among other things, lambic and Berliner Weisse style ales.

The references to Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland have been retained, along with the core range of three. The first release was the Dark Ale, a beer that took out gold at the Australian International Beer Awards within its first year, followed by the witbier-inspired White Ale and a lightly fruity and spicy Belgian pale ale.

That trio continues to do the volume shifting, but it will be elsewhere that those looking for pointier end beers will be focusing. Indeed, it's easy to wonder whether White Rabbit's significant exploration of oak and fermentation could end up playing the sort of role that Little Creatures' Pale did for hops in Australia, by bringing the niche in front of a more mainstream audience.

Name
White Rabbit
Address

221 Swanston Street
Geelong
VIC 3220

Website
Hours

Sun to Wed: 11am to 5pm
Thurs to Sat: 11am to 9pm

The Regulars

White Rabbit "Belgian style" Pale Ale

While regular visitors to the brewery in Healesville and the Little Creatures Dining Hall in Fitzroy will be aware that there is a steady stream of often experimental tiny batch beers coming out of White Rabbit, it has been a while ' three years in fact ' since they added a beer to their core range of Dark and White. Among those tiny batches has been a number of beers that have loosely played around with the Belgian pale ale style and thus it is that the third White Rabbit year-round beer is this "Belgian style" Pale Ale. Described as a meeting of old school and new, it's a beer that pours a brilliant copper in the glass with subtle herbal aromas that are joined by a touch of fruitiness once it warms. There's some caramel sweetness to taste, with the Belgian influence adding much in the way of spiciness and helping create a distinctly dry finish. ··· Read more
Style
Belgian Pale Ale
Strength
4.9%

White Rabbit Dark Ale

A beer that has been tweaked and refined over its lifespan to become one of the best dark beers in Australia, as evidenced by its gold medal in the 2010 Australian International Beer Awards. A welcoming floral aroma derived from the hop flowers used in the brewery's hop back and the addition of hops into the tank after fermentation draws you in to a smooth, rich, malt-driven beer full of dark chocolate and light roast characteristics with fruity esters from the open fermentation and a solid bitter finish. ··· Read more
Style
Dark Ale
Strength
4.9%

White Rabbit White Ale

The second beer from the Healesville brewery is their take on the traditional Belgian witbier style. It's a fairly restrained recreation, given a touch of both sweetness and dryness from the addition of honey in the kettle. These beers have a history stretching back centuries to the days monks played with spices and fruits in their beers. Here, you'll find hints of coriander, juniper berry and bitter orange that lend themselves to a welcoming, fruity aroma, particularly when sampled in draft form. ··· Read more
Style
Witbier
Strength
4.5%

The Specials

White Rabbit Barrel Aged Red

Had you invited a cross-section of beer lovers to predict the direction White Rabbit would take once the Lion purchase of Little World Beverages (which owned both the then Healesville-based brewery and Little Creatures), it's unlikely many (OK, any) would have said: "Building a large barrel ageing program and turning it into an immersive visitor experience. Oh, and maybe adding a Flanders red style beer to its core range." And yet... In hindsight, if you look back at what the brewers liked to get up to on a very small scale when they still called the Yarra Valley home, there were hints as to what might be coming: occasional single barrel projects that sometimes dipped into sour territory. Still, the arrival of the Barrel Aged Red as a small scale teaser of what will ultimately become their fourth core beer is one that suggests White Rabbit could play a role in popularising sour beers across Australia similar to that which Little Creatures played with American hops a decade and ··· Read more
Style
Flanders Red Style Ale
Strength
4.9%
Stockists

White Rabbit Brewery

Glamorama

Cookie

Father’s Office

Transport

Mt Erica Hotel

Hop Temple

More stockists...

Released Fri Apr 29 2016

White Rabbit Porter

One of the side benefits of Little Creatures opening its new base in Geelong is that White Rabbit Dark Ale will now be brewed into open fermenters there, opening up capacity at Rabbit's Healesville home. This will allow Jeremy and his team of brewers to take some of the frequent mini-experiments they carry out onto a far larger scale. Visitors to the cellar door or the Little Creatures Dining Hall in Brunswick will have come across all manner of weird and wonderful things in kegs and firkins, with the Porter the latest. There were only a few kegs brewed (and we're a little lax in popping this up so there may be little of those left), but should you find some we're told it "has a fairly solid hopping with whole New Zealand Pacifica and Rakau, and the malt backbone is comprised of pale, Munich, Midnight wheat, roast barley and a touch of dark crystal." The beer has been barrel fermented with the same English ale strain as the brewery's dark ale in "a little bit of French oak ··· Read more
Style
Barrel Fermented Porter

Released Wed Dec 11 2013

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