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Baldivis beer venue Whitelakes Brewing Co expanding operation on all fronts

Baldivis brewery Whitelakes Brewing Co is ramping up its capacity in 2022 with bold expansion plans that will take the venue to a whole new level.

Whitelakes brews and supplies locally-made craft beers to stockists and venues across the State and is becoming a household name for WA beer.

It is headed by brewing veteran Sean Symons, who has years in the game some brewers could only dream of.

Learning to brew under Chuck Hahn, Symons spent some time building the James Squire brand in the beginning of the craft beer movement in the 1990s.

He later moved on to work at Tooheys for Lion, opened a beachside brewery in Vietnam, worked for XXXX in Queensland and did a stint as brewing manager at the Swan Brewery in Perth.

“At that stage I decided to go out on my own and do some different things and that was where I met John Gastev . . . a local publican here,” he said.

Gastev Group Collective operates several venues in Perth’s south, including the Whistling Kite in Secret Harbour and the Vernon Arms Tavern in Baldivis, next to where Whitelakes now sits.

“We started to formulate an idea to create something together,” Symons said.

In 2016, the doors to Whitelakes Brewing Co opened to the public.

“We’ve just kept going from strength to strength and the beers are doing really well,” Symons said.

Running out of brewing capacity became a good problem for the duo to have, pushing them to expand not only their brewing capacity but the Whitelakes experience as a whole.

“We have these big new (brewing) tanks out the front . . . a shed out the back for storage, and then the last piece will be bringing the venues together and improving the hospitality side of things,” Symons said.

Symons has hopes to make the Vernon Arms and Whitelakes one large venue but acknowledges planning and discussions are still ongoing. He hopes the venue will be ready to go by spring.

“It’s two separate venues and we’d like to pull them together to make a more wholesome experience,” he said.

“It’ll be a central kitchen with alfresco dining area, landscaping and play area for kids, better parking and better access.

“One thing we really felt strongly about was making sure that when you walk in you (know) you’re part of a brewery. You walk in, look up at the tanks . . . can see the brewing going on.”

While the venue expansion excites Symons, it will always be about the beer for him.

“In a smaller brewing operation it’s the consistency that’s sometimes tough to get . . . that repeatability in a beer that’s crisp and refreshing and full of flavour,” he said.

“The real thing that we’re focusing on is just consistency and flavour.

“We’ve spent a lot of time making sure that the beers are really excellent.”

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