28 December, 2013

From yarns to yeast

Geelong's wool trade of the 19th and 20th centuries was intimately connected to the Barwon River with first tanneries and wool scours and then woollen mills popping up from Breakwater to Newtown from the 1840s onwards. A late-comer to the scene was the Valley Worsted mill which opened in 1925 to capitalise on Geelong's role at the centre of Australia's wool trade.
In March, 2012, I posted about the future of the mill which, after 50 years in operation, ceased production in the 1970s. In 2011, the entire mill complex was sold to the Little Creatures Brewery - a Fremantle-based company - who developed the site as an east coast base for their brewing operations. For months we have seen the comings and goings as the works have taken place. On some occasions we even watched as picket lines blocked the front gates.

Little Creatures Brewery, cnr Fyans and Swanston Sts, South Geelong 
But finally, on 10th December, 2013 the doors were opened and Little Creatures' was ready to serve the people of Geelong. In addition to their brewing operations, the new brewery houses a large canteen on the premises which serves their own beers and ciders in addition to a selection of locally-produced wines and a light menu for those wishing to have a bite to eat with their beverage of choice.
Strolling from the gateway through the old mill complex

Please queue through the shipping container to the right...
And the local citizens it seems, were very keen to be served - myself included. At the invitation of friends, I headed down for a look and a beer just before Christmas. Within an hour of our arriving, the place was full to overflowing and there was a queue waiting for admission, all controlled by a clearly visible security detail.

More like a street party than your average canteen
My observations at this point only extend to the public area, however I believe tours of the site are held daily. My first impression upon arriving at the "canteen" was of a busy street market, with people milling everywhere, tables, seats and umbrellas interspersed with fruit trees in large planter boxes and a bustling waiting staff taking orders back and forth.
On this occasion we sat outside facing a herb-oriented wall garden as the waiters came and went, chasing the brightly-coloured, sparkly hats which are used to identify order numbers.
The vertical garden with recycled planters
The weather on this occasion was perfect for sitting outdoors, however, had this not been the case, the indoor seating surrounding the bar is almost cavernous in its extent. Just inside the door as you enter is a table inviting you to sample the brewing process by smelling the dried hops and tasting the malted barley.
Hops, malt and water
Kids (or little creatures as they call them) are catered for with a kids' menu and two large sandpits, one inside and one out.

The view indoors
Another cute decorative touch is a substantial amount of yarn-bombing which appears on poles and posts both inside and out. Orders are made at the bar and food delivered to your table. At this stage I can personally recommend the prawn tortillas and the lamb spareribs, however I will definitely be back to sample some more.
So now those who are out there enjoying the surrounds of the Barwon, can break their ride, run, walk with a 300m detour up Swanston Street for a refreshing ale and a bite to eat.

No comments:

Post a Comment