There’s an echo of Little Creatures in the new White Rabbit Dark Ale, from Healesville, Victoria. It’s in the pervasive hops aroma and flavour – a thumbprint of the Little Creatures’ style, courtesy of the ‘hop back’, a sack of fresh hops seeped in the brew.
White Rabbit’s burrow might be thousands of kilometres from Freemantle, Little Creatures’ home. But it’s a wholly owned subsidiary of Little Creatures and has as its next door neighbour Phil Sexton’s Giant Steps winery.
Phil, a founder of both Matilda Bay (now owned by Fosters) and Little Creatures (now part owned by Lion Nathan), consults to Little Creatures and the new White Rabbit operation.
Apart from the family hops signature, White Rabbit Dark Ale, the only brew currently available, is far removed from the Little Creatures’ style. Its dark, nutty, roasted-malt flavours and strikingly dry palate are unique – and perhaps partly attributable to the open fermenters used by brewer Jeremy Holse, a Matilda Bay veteran.
And little Creatures hasn’t limited its expansion to Victoria. It recently acquired a twenty per cent stake, and national distribution rights, in the Byron Bay brewery, Stone and Wood – which counts former Little Creatures and Matilda Bay brewer, Brad Rogers, among its four other shareholders.
Copyright © Chris Shanahan 2009