The buzzing beer scene in South West WA gained another brewery in 2020, as a bare space on Busselton’s busy foreshore turned into the impressive multi-storey home of Shelter Brewing.
Its arrival in the popular tourist town represents the completion of one of the region’s most ambitious projects of recent years: a 25 hectolitre brewery and expansive 1505 square metres of indoor space over two levels, catering for a capacity of 650, and a solar panel-covered, twin-gabled roof that put an emphasis on locality and a desire to reduce the brewery’s environmental impact.
Shelter’s arrival has been a long time coming. Jason Credaro, one of six brothers from the two local families overseeing the venture, has been exploring the possibility of opening a brewery on the town's foreshore – initially under the Blue Mile banner – for years. But now, with his brothers Matt, Chris and Mike, plus Zeb and Asher Packard-Hair on board, the vision has become reality.
"The project itself hasn't changed too much," Jason says. "It's still a microbrewery on the foreshore. The one thing we have changed is now it's very much focused around the brew system and the beers and that craft beer culture; it's all about the community.
“Our location is unique for any brewery, in any region of the world, and our aim is for our beers to enhance this location and venue we have built.”
He says their approach can be described as “owning your postcode” and the six directors have a strong claim to 6280 – they're the fourth generation of both families to live in the area. Jason's family first moved there in 1922 and operate the Credaro Family Estate, while the Packard-Hairs operate Old Broadwater Farm, a popular venue for weddings and festivals.
The family-owned Shelter is designed to be family-friendly too, complete with an outdoor playing area for kids.
“We want to create a place and an experience that captures the essence of Busselton’s relaxed beachside community and lifestyle,” Jason says.
"Busselton is quite a busy tourist town now – the low season is shrinking every year. A lot of people from Perth are coming down for weekends even in winter."
As well as sharing director duties, he's taking on the head brewer role, having spent five years at Little Creatures from 2009 to 2014 before working for other breweries, including Brick Lane in Melbourne, in the intervening years.
Although it’s been a long time in the making, construction and fit out remained on track even amid the early months of COVID-19 pandemic, ready for a sunny spring opening. It’s a fit out that features Jarrah floorboards in the lounge, a first floor function room, silver birch trees indoors and a brewery cellar underneath the raised timber flooring that will be home to barrel for seasonal and limited releases.
As for the name, it's a reference to the nature of the location in Geographe Bay: sheltered from the conditions experienced by the coast to the west. And they hope the brewery itself will act as a shelter; if you visit in winter, you might not want to experience the cold on the beach for too long but you can sit inside with a beer and still take in the views.
When it comes to the beers, Jason plans to offer something for everyone with a permanent lineup of six to seven beers covering styles such as IPA, XPA, sours and red ales. Experimental, limited release and more adventurous brews are on the cards as well. Approachability and sessionability will be key, however, with food a big part of the experience, centred around locally sourced produce and a menu focused on “modern, brewery style dining”.
"All of us brewers down here have spoken about educating people about what craft beer is,” Jason says.
The scale and location of Shelter will ensure they have plenty of opportunity to do just that.