As far as Australian beer-drinking settings go, tucking into a pint that's been freshly brewed in the basement of a historical country hotel is probably one of the more quintessential and distinctive experiences around.
Full Circle Brewery have captured just that at their Bridgetown residence, tucked away within the lower levels of a restored 1920s Federation-style country hotel and serving fresh pints within the frequently busy bar and dining areas.
In total, 16 beers grace the grand, wooden bar top where Full Circle’s beers are offered front and centre alongside more predictable pub drops. Their range includes trusty regulars such as a lager and pale ale, plus seasonal and creative efforts: an oat cream IPA loaded with Zamba and Strata hops, for example, or the more winter-warming Upper Crust British Amber Ale – just right when served by the pint. You can also find them in cans and on tap at select outlets around Perth and the greater South West.
The true allure of Full Circle, however, is the idyllic and quaint country setting in which the brewery sits. Bridgetown, with a population of around 3,000, is a small town three hours south of Perth which is brimming with history and surrounded by agricultural pursuits, rolling hills and verdant farms. A thirst-inducing image if ever there was!
From farm beginnings and a focus on local and low-impact brewing, the team at Full Circle is well and truly settled into their role of supplying the town of Bridgetown with craft beer. It makes sense the quiet locale has its own brewery, even if Full Circle go above and beyond the expectations of a tourist-driven town, striving to create beers of a quality to rival just about any city-dwelling brewhouse.
We caught up the team behind the small brewery and the charming and unique experience that comes with paying them a visit for our long-running Who Brews..? series.
Full Circle Brewery
Who are you?
Full Circle Brewing is run by Mark Sheridan (pictured at top with wife Nicole), Aaron Hide and Bruce Beasley.
We started operation in 2018 as a farm-based brewery with a focus on farming. Our plan was to be a farm with a brewery rather than a brewery on a farm: we collected all the water onsite, fed the mash to our livestock, and processed our wastewater to irrigate our hop plantation.
A few things have changed since the initial concept and the three of us work from the basement of the Bridgetown hotel.
Where do you brew?
We eventually outgrew the farm shed and needed a larger premises with 3-phase power. We have a good working relationship with the local hotel, The Bridgetown Hotel, and also knew that they had some under-utilised space below the hotel that opened out onto the beer garden.
Fortunately, they liked the idea also, so in late 2021 we renovated the area below the hotel and moved in.
Why do you brew?
On a family trip to England, we were unexpectedly lent some pushbikes so my father-in-law and myself then spent a month riding all through Yorkshire visiting “freehouses”, which are basically British inns or public houses not committed to the purchase of supplies from a particular brewery. We were basically hunting for small independent breweries.
This was an eye-opener for me as I had no previous idea of this “freehouse” concept and thought a decent beer selection was VB or Swan Gold. We had some marvellous beers and hunting them down was just downright fun.
On returning to Australia, I purchased a homebrew kit to emulate my British experience and the rest is history.
What’s the inspiration behind the brewery name?
The concept behind the name comes from our initial intent to effectively be a closed loop manufacturing process, or full circle, in that we harvested our water for the beer, made the beer and fed the mash to the livestock. Then collected and filtered our wastewater to irrigate a hop garden – a Full Circle utilisation of the inputs into the brewery so to speak.
Although we don’t have the hop garden anymore, we do still have a flock of very well-fed sheep.
What beer in your lineup best represents you and why?
Probably our Toasted Marshmallow Stout, because it captures the delight of unexpectedly finding something fun and a bit different.
If anyone drops in on brew day, what are they most likely to hear blasting from the speakers?
Double J, we are children of the 90s and Double J has our back in that regard.
What beers are in your fridge right now?
We are on a mission never to drink the same beer twice – there is just too much creativity and choice out there at the moment. So as we drive around delivering and selling beer we always have a look through the store to find something that catches an interest or is in a particular style that we are considering making. We all then get to get together and do some “research”.
It's tough work but we are up to the challenge.
Which local beers have blown your mind in recent weeks?
Boston Brewery, in Vic Park, had a Sabro IPA that I loved on tap. It forced me to break my rule on never drinking the same beer twice.
Where can people find your beers?
On tap, we are in the Bridgetown Hotel and occasionally Brewvino in Mandurah, plus Beerpourium and Percy Flint in Freo.
In cans we are in Clovers in Bridgetown, the Rose and Treendale farm in Bunbury, Big Brews and Malibu Liquor Barons in Rockingham, Hamilton Hill Cellarbrations and Mane Liquor in Belmont.
Where do you hope your brewery will be ten years from now?
If the brewery is still a creative and fun place to dream up and create great beers with a group of good people then we will be happy with that, regardless of the size.
You can enjoy Full Circle beers at source by heading to the Bridgetown Hotel at 157 Hampton Street, Bridgetown. Find it and hundreds of other good beer venues on the free Crafty Pint app.