Little Creatures' little brother White Rabbit opened in the Yarra Valley in 2009, promising to bring the expertise that created modern Aussie classics like Little Creatures Pale Ale from the West Coast to Victoria. The brewery's launch beer, the Dark Ale, soon afterwards picked up a gold at the 2010 Australian International Beer Awards. A second beer was introduced that year too: a honey-conditioned White Ale inspired by Belgian witbiers that has, like the Dark Ale, steadily evolved over time.
Designed around two custom built 5,000l open fermentation tanks and decorated with imagery from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland, the White Rabbit approach to brewing is rare in Australia. Once a brew is completed, the wort is transferred to these open top fermenters where the yeast is added and allowed to go to work making beer unconstrained by the closed containers used in most other breweries. There's no risk of infection as the tanks are kept in a controlled environment filled with filtered air while the benefits of this centuries old method are the creation of unique complexities in the beer and greater flexibility in the management of yeasts.
The brewery was originally located next to the Giant Steps / Innocent Bystander winery's impressive cellar door, in Healesville, but, as of 2015, was relocated to Geelong. There it shares a site with the Little Creatures brewery and, as well as brewing some of the White Rabbit beers (those that haven't outgrown its capacity) the brewery that was moved from the Yarra Valley has been joined by a barrel room. The brewers at Healesville always liked to play around with barrel ageing and experimental versions of their core beers and now have a large collection of oak with which to do so, with the barrels forming part of the brewery's new educational visitor centre.
The Dark and White were joined in 2014 by a third core beer. The Belgian style Pale Ale had been trialled in various forms on tap at Little Creatures' venues before they settled on the lightly fruity number available nationwide now. Expect to see more limited release oddities appear from the Geelong barrel room.