By its very nature, you have to get a little lost – or at least go on a journey – in order to be found. Be it with odd socks, those misplaced house keys, or eight-digit passcodes with more wingdings than are probably necessary.
Of course, there is another option: choose the path itself. This Zen Master-style approach offers an ethos of ongoing discovery rather than a fixed, transactional endpoint. As has been the case for all things concerning FOUND., as operations manager Steve Finney explains.
“It didn’t really have a home,” he says, “and FOUND. has evolved a fair bit as each Found.er has come on and contributed to each part of the business they are looking after.”
FOUND. was conceptualised in the mid-2010s, sparked by the desire to “build a good workplace culture, and build a great team”. It’s since evolved into plans for a 1,000-person capacity venue and production facility in the heart of East Perth – more on this later – despite involving a journey that’s been fraught with dead ends and changed plans.
While that grand centrepiece of the vision is still very much in play, in the meantime another door opened 45 minutes south in semi-rural Byford: if there’s a brewery theme of journey and discovery, it’s surely articulated here.
Opening in mid-2023, Found.Lab is the debut for this team’s curious approach. The lakeside, 200-capacity space slots into a developing suburb on the edge of Greater Perth’s urban sprawl. In time, this be head brewer Will Irving’s Willy Wonka workshop for Found.’s experiments; for now, the 600-litre brew kit delivers a “resident range” of six venue-specific beer constants, plus ample limited releases.
The head brewer’s name will be familiar to many; if not, all you need to know is that his genre-defining work at Feral helped birth hoppy pale ales, sour beers and barleywines years ahead of their time in the sun in Australia – alongside oaked projects and a modern hazy icon. Add in more than a decade’s worth of beer judging in multiple forums, and Found.’s liquid direction arrives assured – and then some.
While the range is broad, and evolving, it’s SUPER which has become FOUND.’s totem. The full-strength hazy pale has quickly become Found.Lab’s best-seller, drawing acclaim from day-trippers and locals alike. And while their packaged beer options are a little way off, SUPER is destined to be the lead offering.
All exciting but good beer deserves good food, and with Found.’s hospitality troupe led by Natalie Moeahu-Pehi and their kitchen by head chef Trent Willmott, both menu and those presenting it burst with character. A pre-opening West Coast USA research trip inspired the sambo’s signature French dip consommé: a luscious reduction which takes three days to make. Elsewhere, the menu echoes a discoverer’s passport with nods to Asia, the Mediterranean, southern US cuisine and more, delivered in small, large and share formats.
It's a combination that sees Found.Lab arrive fully formed as preparations for the full production brewery – slated for mid-2024 – continue.
Steve says: “Everything that FOUND. does, or I do, is inspired by WA in some way, and it makes sense to bring that regional brewpub experience into the middle of the city, with a big focus on community and the outdoors.”
Until that arrives, the best way to gain an understanding of the FOUND. team’s grand vision is to take a trip south, pull up a seat at Found.Lab, and let them take you on a journey. Because, as with getting FOUND. to appear upside down in Google Maps, it’s something they know a bit about, after all.