The folks from Fremantle have done it again. The pioneers who brought the citrusy American flavour of hops to the previously uncharted (beer flavoured) waters of Australian breweries have once again produced a winner, with Little Creatures opening their doors in the city of Geelong.
Over two years in the making after converting an old wool mill into a brewery, the result is worth the wait. Stepping through iron gates onto the premises, you might feel as though you've entered a different town altogether — a town of vast red-brick, turreted buildings with a wealth of history behind their walls.
Once you've found your way to the dedicated hospitality area, it's time to grab Little Creatures' signature pale ale ($4-9) and let the fun begin. Not a beer drinker? Cop the banter from the bartenders and let them pour you a glass of bubbles ($8.50 glass) or wine ($7.50-10 glass), sourced primarily from local wineries and surrounding regional areas.
Pull up a pew and assess the food menu that has been selected around the drink menu, full of dishes that will hit the spot as you down a cold one. You'll have to go to the bar to order, but by that time it will probably be time for another beverage anyway.
The pulled pork sliders ($14) are the standout, served on a buttery bun with slaw, they work well coupled with the beetroot, pumpkin, walnut, goats cheese salad ($12). For something more substantial, try the tomato, basil, buffalo mozzarella pizza ($17) or the chorizo frank with apple and fennel slaw ($12) — the gourmet equivalent of the greasy stuff you might crave after a few more drinks. Make room for the warm cinnamon doughnuts ($12) served with tart lemon curd that balances out the sugary dessert.
While thoroughly deserving of high praise for their produce, what really sets Little Creatures apart from any old canteen is the space and the atmosphere it generates. The interior has an industrial finish to it, glass ceilings welcome the natural light and recycled pellets make up the high wooden tables. Plants line the walls, while outside strings of coloured globes dangle above the bright umbrellas sheltering the seated area.
Perhaps the only downfall of Little Creatures is its early closing time — though, arguably, they could probably stay open all night and you'd still be begging to stay.
If you need a reason to take a trip down to the coast, you've certainly got one. With the type of staff that remember everyone that passes through, Little Creatures is a thriving glasshouse, producing happy people by fertilising them with fodder and plonk.