Until late 2017, Perth’s northern corridor was a good beer desert. In the 40 kilometre conurbation between Perth and Mindarie there was barely a pub let alone a brewpub but, thanks to the $80 million redevelopment of the Whitfords Shopping Centre’s Dining and Entertainment Hub, northern beer drinkers have somewhere to call home: the Whitfords Brewing Co.
The 750 person capacity, two storey venue comes from the team that operates Northbridge Brewing Co (NBC) in Perth and is part of a small but growing number of craft beer venues found in shopping centres across the country. In the case of Whitfords, it sits beneath a cinema, above a bowling alley and features a SkyDeck boasting views of the Indian Ocean. Sports fans are catered for by the 75 inch screens throughout, but the highlight is the 22m bar built with timber from the decommissioned Perry Lakes stadium and Fremantle Foundry, some dating from the late 19th century.
The al fresco entrance overlooks sculpted gardens while, inside, fermenters line the walls alongside an intimate Chesterfield nook. The main room’s terrace fills with sunlight and sea breezes in as guests ranging from those engaged in casual catch ups and business meetings to mothers’ groups and seasoned shopping warriors take their pick from a core range of Beerland beers that will be familiar to those who’ve spent time at NBC. They’re joined on tap by old school offerings like Swan Draught and craftier favourites from the likes of Balter, Hawkers and Feral.
With a keen eye on the large British population in the northern corridor, the first seasonal release to come from WBC’s in-house brewery was Yorkshire Gold, an ESB, with plans to follow that with similarly themed tipples – a brown ale among them – all available for takeaway purchase via the bar’s CANimal machine.
The site’s 12 hectolitre system allows the WBC brewers not only to maintain volume for the brewpub but also to split seasonal releases with the sister venue in Northbridge, meaning some classically English inspired liquids will hit the city while NBC’s typically edgier seasonals head north to tease suburban palates. Between the two venues, drinkers can look forward to up to 24 seasonal releases in a year.
Inspired by the success of those at NBC, monthly Beer Club events will see new Beerland seasonal releases featured in a blind tasting with five other beers of the same style. Additionally, established Man vs Food challenges, Chilli Week and other locally themed events fill the calendar alongside larger celebrations like Melbourne Cup and New Year’s Eve.
On the food front, pub favourites like burgers, pizzas and parmis rub shoulders with dishes such as confit duck, turmeric and lemongrass grilled chicken salad and chargrilled crayfish.
If someone had suggested even a few short years ago that Perth would one day have a brewpub serving IPAs and ESBs in a shopping centre, they’d likely have been laughed out of the room. Yet the crowds that have flocked to Whitfords since opening show it’s no laughing matter. And it goes without saying that stepping away from a hard day’s shopping for a pint with lunch has never tasted so good.