The Gage Roads brewing team is made up of self confessed "Fussy Bastards" who form part of an Australian brewery with a story unlike any other. Since first hitting the market in 2005 with a team led by well known WA brewer Bill Hoedemaker - formerly found at the now-defunct Sail & Anchor brewery - they've gone from brewing startup to something approaching a household name.
In part, this is thanks to Woolworths, who took a 25 per cent share in what was a struggling brewery in 2009, with their investment ultimately enabling an 18-month upgrade project that began in 2012. The original, cobbled together brewery, a hotspot of salvaged and second-hand equipment fitted inside a former margarine factory - was replaced with a state-of-the-art Krones CombiCube B brewhouse: a German designed and built brewhouse for the serious craft brewer that pushed Gage Roads into new territory. The computerised set up allows a greater degree of control over each step of the brewing process and enabled the brewers to increase their daily brewing capacity from 3,000 to 10,000 hectolitres a day.
Today, it allows Gage Roads to run a two-pronged operation. Under the Gage Roads banner - the name taken from the strip of ocean that runs between Fremantle and Rottnest Island - they release a core range of ales and lagers designed with sessionability in mind, one that's been refined over the years to become one that regularly picks up awards. Little Dove took out Champion Australian Beer at the AIBAs in 2016, while the brewery as a whole has picked up its own champion trophy too.
The other side of the operation sees them brew beers under contract for a number of other well-known Australian beer brands, such as Matso's.
In 2016, Gage Roads announced a "Return To Independence", buying back its shares from Woolworths while remaining a publicly listed company. Since then, it has enjoyed a remarkable run of success. Already, following the closure of the Swan Brewery, the Palmyra brewery had become the largest by volume in WA and now, having won the pouring rights for the Optus Stadium in Perth and inked deals with the likes of Cricket Victoria, Rugby Australia and the Western Force, as well as acquiring Matso's in June 2018, they are well established as one of the country's largest. Their very own western force, if you like.