21/09/2017 - 12:56

Opportunity brewing at Whitfords

21/09/2017 - 12:56

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The recent revamp of Westfield Whitford City’s hospitality precinct crafted the perfect business opportunity for Beerland Brewing to open its second venue today.

Opportunity brewing at Whitfords
Ben Rasheed says Beerland Brewing is aiming to capture more of the emerging shopping centre hospitality market. Photos: Attila Csaszar

The recent revamp of Westfield Whitford City’s hospitality precinct crafted the perfect business opportunity for Beerland Brewing to open its second venue today. 

Beer aficionados from Perth’s northern suburbs have a new local venue for their craft beer fix, following the opening of Whitfords Brewing Company today.

The two-storey, 1,250 square metre space will cater for up to 750 people across its main bar area, balcony, beer garden and skydeck featuring ocean views, and forms part of an $80 million hospitality precinct revamp, the first stage of Westfield Whitford City’s $450 million shopping centre redevelopment.

Whitfords Brewing Company is the second business to emerge from local label Beerland Brewing, which opened Northbridge Brewing Company in 2014 and operates under Marlin Group, a property investment company with a portfolio including Mustang Bar, Universal Bar, the Ravenswood Hotel and The Left Bank.

Marlin Group general manager Ben Rasheed said a multi-venue strategy was always part of the plan when Northbridge Brewing Company was rolled-out.

“We always intended to do more than one venue,” Mr Rasheed told Business News.

Beerland Brewing is only available on-premises, with some exceptions; we’ll go to festivals and get our brand into places that focus on craft beer.

“We’re focused on brand recognition, capturing as much margin as we can.”

The owner-operator of Westfield shopping centres across Australia, Scentre Group, approached the group just over a year ago.

“We liked what we saw, all the planets aligned,” Mr Rasheed said.

“We’ve never done anything in the northern suburbs before and until now there was nothing (no breweries) between Northbridge and Mindarie.”

Whitfords Brewing Company will offer tasting paddles, beer talks, functions and brewery tours, and run competitions to be a ‘brewer for the day’, alongside master brewer Ken Arrowsmith.

“We’re using the theatre of brewing to attract people to our venue,” Mr Rasheed said.

“That high-level engagement gives people a really good experience of beer; it’s not about smashing them back,” Mr Rasheed said.

There are 16 brewing vessels on site capable of producing up to 120,000 litres of beer per year.

“We’ve got a core range of five beers – pale ale, wheat, kolsch, IPA and lager, as well as seasonal releases,” Mr Rasheed said.

“We also sell several other commercial brands and craft beer products.

“We’re not hoity-toity about it; at the end of the day it’s beer, and we wanted to make sure we had something for everyone, from the first-time craft drinker all the way through.”

The venue will also serve a selection of wines, spirits, cocktails and food.

“Ten years ago it wouldn’t have been socially acceptable to drink beer at a top-notch restaurant; now we’re finding restaurants are celebrating beer in their craft form,” Mr Rasheed said.

“We’ve seen a proliferation of breweries and beer styles, it’s a growing market segment.”

He said the business had considered the east coast market as a potential expansion avenue for the Beerland brand, but other key suburban shopping centre developments around Western Australia were emerging as immediate and worthwhile opportunities.

“There’s a lot going on in the shopping centre space since the deregulation of retail trading floor size, the gold rush is on at the moment for developers,” Mr Rasheed said.

“So we’re looking to capture a bit more of that. It’s just got to have the right demographics and location.”

The team also spent time in China discussing options with potential business partners.

“The international market is definitely on our radar,” Mr Rasheed said.

“In Beijing and Shanghai, the craft beer scene is just starting to emerge.

“But we want to establish our domestic plans first to provide a good backbone to the brand and to bolster our credibility; then the plan would be to replicate our model with a partner that shares our vision.

“The first part of that business is about the brewery, the second is about showcasing our beer alongside Australian products, like seasoned beef and lamb.

“We’ll see how that pans out, it’s not our main focus right now, but growth for the future.”

The 1,250sqm venue can cater to up to 750 patrons.

There are 16 brewing tanks housed at WBC, which are visible from the main road.

The new food precinct opened today and features several food and beverage operators, including Miss Chow's and Hunter & Barrell. 

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