The buzzing beer scene in South West WA is to gain another new brewery, with construction work beginning this week on Shelter. It's set to be one of the most ambitious projects of recent years too, combining brewery and expansive 300-seat, 500-capacity venue a mere stone's throw from Busselton's iconic jetty.
It's also been a long time coming. Jason Credaro, one of six brothers from 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 is set to become reality by spring 2020.
"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.
"I've seen that trend in the States – it's about owning your postcode."
The six directors have a fair claim to the postcode too – 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. They intend to make Shelter family-friendly too, with an outdoor playing area for kids part of the plan.
“We want to create a place and an experience that captures the essence of Busselton’s relaxed beachside community and lifestyle,” Jason says.
"I grew up down here and you'd all go to the Dunsborough pub or here [the interview took place over breakfast at The Goose] or the Ship Inn, but slowly things changed, the live music scene kind of faded out a little bit.
"Now there's The Goose and Fire Station in town, Hamish [Coates of Rocky Ridge] is doing his thing [the brewery cellar door and craft beer bar Darleens are in Busso]. It's bringing life back to town.
"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 with the other five brothers, he'll be taking on the head brewer role, having spent five years at Little Creatures from 2009 to 2014 and worked for other breweries, including Brick Lane in Melbourne, in the intervening years.
The plan is to install a 25 hectolitre system and large tanks – "My background is in big craft," Jason says. "I see value in economies of scale." – and line the roof with solar panels.
As for the name of the brewery, 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.
What those beers will be remains to be seen, although Jason hints that approachability and sessionability will be key, given their intention to become a community hub. He acknowledges that people are increasingly open to craftier beer styles too – with the wider Margaret River region home to more than a dozen breweries, including some of the best-loved in the state, drinkers have had plenty of opportunity to expand their beer knowledge in recent years.
"I want to keep the permanent lineup to six or seven beers then have seasonals," he says, with "creative, bigger beers" there to help generate interest.
"All of us brewers down here have spoken about educating people about what craft beer is. That was one of the big things with WABA [the Western Australian Brewers Association] – how do you educate people about what craft beer is about?"
The scale and location of Shelter should ensure they have plenty of opportunity to do just that.
"It's a bit scary," he says, as construction workers arrive at the site next door to where we're sat. "But we'll wing it!"
For more on Shelter, head here.