“This is pristine,”
Sean Symons, head brewer, White Lakes Brewing
A few years ago Sean Symons was having a pint of Guinness with John Gastev at the Vernon Arms in Baldivis. He and John, whose family of well-known publicans have a love of beer, were in the early stages of scouting for a location for a brewery. As they sat overlooking Lake Walyungup, Sean said “this is pristine” and thought it was exactly the sort of place you’d want to build a brewery.
Within twelve months an opportunity came up to take over the Vernon Arms and in 2015 they started construction of White Lakes Brewing right next door to the tavern.
It has now been just over twelve months since White Lakes Brewing opened their doors. The whole site is called West Garden, home to the Vernon Arms and White Lakes Brewing.
Construction involved converting the function centre on site into a brewery and this meant lifting a large portion of the ceiling to accommodate the HGM brew kit. What was the kitchen is now what Sean fondly refers to as the “mad brewers lab” where testing and quality control happen. The main function space with large timber ceiling beams and exposed brick walls is now home to fermenters and tanks lined up in neat rows. A couple of the fermenters are sitting where the dance floor used to be.
The brew kit is powered by steam, ticking boxes for the brewery in being both environmentally friendly and ensuring great brewery efficiency. The vapour condenser on the brew kit collects steam from the kettle and converts it to hot water, the condensation goes to the waste water treatment which is used to water the lawns and gardens.
Sean built their malt silo; something he was quick to add that he wouldn’t recommend. “It came from the US, flat packed,” Sean said it took a full week to put together.
“We love our lagers,”
Lagers feature strongly in the line up with the White Lakes Draught and Pilsener, German style and Bohemian style pilseners respectively, along with a seasonal Dark which is a German Schwarzbier.
Their Wit is a Belgian style wheat beer that Sean says is “a big favourite” of his and that won a silver medal at the Australian International Beer Awards (AIBA) in May.
White Lakes Standard, among their best-selling beers alongside the Pilsener and Draught, won a gold medal at the AIBA and is based on an English Ordinary Bitter. At just 3.5 percent ABV it is their reduced alcohol offering which was an important inclusion in their range given their somewhat regional location. It also reflects the old English beers that were available when the Vernon Arms first opened.
White Lakes Summer and Pale Ale round out the range providing some hoppier ale options.
“The beers that are approachable and sessionable and that you can return to will be the really successful beers,”