Otherside Brewing Co’s Myaree production facility may be where most of the brewing magic happens but sibling venue Freo.Social, part of the Triple 1 Three hospitality group, is where the party starts. Given the Otherside project was originally conceived as a means of “bottling the feeling” of being at a music festival (these days, of course, now "canning the feeling"), it’s no surprise the founders would ultimately want a venue where they could create that feeling.
That somewhere happens to be central Fremantle’s Artillery Drill Hall. Built in 1895, the heritage listed venue has previously been home to the market garden for the neighbouring Fremantle Prison, the military and, immediately prior to its current incarnation, the Fly By Night Musicians Club, an institution that facilitated all manner of events for close to three decades. Those with a keen eye will see some of this – including items found during the restoration – immortalised on artwork throughout the venue.
Continuing this colourful legacy, Freo.Social now hosts local, national and international artists while punters sip on the best of Otherside’s beers, some of which are exclusive to Freo.Social and the Myaree brewhouse bar. The onsite 500 litre Brewshed setup sees a new beer launched every Friday to complement the core and experimental range beers filling the other taps alongside the odd guest brewery. The intention is that this will happen every Friday, forever. And, with 56 taps throughout the multi-faceted venue, there needn’t be a wait to try whatever it is you fancy.
The Brewshed bar and adjacent outdoor areas, Front Yard and Back Yard, are open outside of gigs; one area is designed especially for children and you can see the names and drawings of many of the staff’s own kids on the brickwork. But, when it comes to the full Freo.Social experience, the Main Hall is where the action is.
Its 550-person capacity makes it a uniquely comfortable size for up-and-comers, veterans and mixed-use formats like seated comedy. Given the ambition, history and one-of-a-kind space, more than $250,000 was invested in lighting and sound alone, with some of Australia’s best technicians – including the touring sound manager for Tame Impala – overseeing the work.
“We decided to it properly because the room needs to be done properly and, otherwise, you’re not doing it justice,” says Triple 1 Three director David Chitty. “Because we’ve worked in festivals for so long, we understand the value of production and how artists value it.”
Connecting with the arts is core to Otherside, Freo.Social and Triple 1 Three. Since 2017, Tapped by Otherside grants have invested close to $100,000 in the WA arts community; grants have gone towards tour sponsorship, mentorship and residencies at Freo.Social itself. Meeting and design rooms connected to the Main Hall inject further creativity and energy into the venue, as do free weekly local muso and DJ performances. Clearly, Freo.Social is a space with a vivacious aura.
This inventive verve extends to the kitchen too. Triple 1 Three’s Nomad food truck rotates seasonally through a variety of global street cuisines in the yard off the BrewShed bar. Meal and core range pint offers enable easy decision-making and go far beyond the typical brewery food staples – rendang flatbread anyone? - although there is always something tempting to pair with more experimental releases, especially from the charcoal grill van.
With quality, interesting food, eclectic performances, a grassroots community spirit and, of course, fresh, locally crafted beer, Freo.Social is many things but, most importantly, it’s about creating social experiences. “The vision was always to have this space the bring the brand to life in an experiential sense so that all of the things that Otherside stands for can come to life in this space,” David says. “Through the music, entertainment and creating an atmosphere that’s kind of like a festival every day.”
You can read Guy Southern's interview with the Freo.Social team as the venue launched here.