Five years after Lion took away WA’s iconic beer maker, it has brought in a new, much smaller operation that draws on the old Swan Brewery’s traditions.
Bevy Brewing Co. has been sitting inside The Camfield, the gargantuan pub a drop punt from Perth’s new stadium in Burswood, for almost six months but has only this week commenced producing its own beers. It had been awaiting a producer’s licence.
A joint venture between Lion and the owners of The Camfield, Bevy Brewing is the latest of the in-house brew kits that have popped up in hospitality hubs around the inner city. It also continues Lion’s national strategy of cultivating small brands in partnership with local operators.
Former Little Creatures brewer Andy Scade, has moved north to manage the 12hl, three vessel DME kit. Andy has a licence from Lion to reconnect brewing to its early WA roots.
The name Bevy has a two-pronged marketing element. While it is a play on the word beverage, which has long been slang in WA for a beer, a bevy just happens to be the collective noun for swans. The black variety inspired the naming of the waterway that dissects Perth.
The old Swan Brewery grew from a small operation on the bank of Kings Park to one of the country’s largest beer makers. It produced the State’s iconic labels, Emu Export, Swan Draught and Emu Bitter.
The monolith, which had swallowed every other WA brewery in the second half of the 20th century, was bought by Lion in 1992 and by 2013 had left town to brew out of West End in Adelaide.
Swan’s exit was viewed as a piece of lost heritage for the State.
Bevy is a chance to write another chapter with the new parent company, reintroducing a local brewery on the banks of the river from which Swan took its name when Frederick Sherwood started the business in 1857.
“The location and background were a natural fit and it is something the company wanted to work on through Bevy,” Andy said.
“Lion wanted to be in a new regional brand in WA, and it is back on the Swan River and the company has had a long history with brewing here, by the river.”
“We wanted to really get back into that space.”
“We’ve used that Swan story as inspiration.”
“We’re not going to brew anything that is necessarily too historically correct.”
“The brand is about taking some old world and giving it a new world spin.”
“There is an attempt to reconnect to that history and it has a nice feel.”
Also capitalising on former Perth brewing roots is The Camfield. Named after the settler who was given first title to the Burswood area, Henry Camfield established WA’s third recognised brewery in 1833, four years after establishment of the Swan River settlement.
The Camfield is the brainchild of prominent Perth publicans Tim McLernon and Tony Buhagiar. Lion doesn’t have an investment in the venue, only the micro-brewery.
Touted as “Australia’s largest pub”, The Camfield spans 9,000 square metres, has 175 beer taps and can fit 2,500 people in one session. During a recent NRL double-header at Optus Stadium, the venue went through 13,000 pints.
Bevy’s First Lager and Prize Pale Ale have been delivered through 46,000 pints at The Camfield in five months. The beers had been brewed at Lion’s Little Creatures facility in Fremantle until this week.
Although Lion missed out on beer rights at the 60,000-seat Optus Stadium to WA’s Gage Roads, Bevy is providing brand exposure next door. The Australian reported the average crowd for a West Coast AFL home match at the stadium was around 53,500, the second highest tally in the country behind AFL premier, Richmond (54,800), which utilises the 99,000-person capacity MCG.
“Like the exposure the Gage Roads guys get in the stadium, it is a big win for Lion,” Andy said.
“It is a bit outside the norm for Australian sports stadiums to have craft beer.”
“It is great for us to be in the big pub next door and expose people to our brand, particularly to people who might not know what craft beer is.”
Andy is working on Bevy’s first seasonal release, an Extra Stout, which draws inspiration from Redcastle Brewery, which operated about 400 metres from The Camfield between 1912 and 1952, when it was bought out by Swan.
“The Stout will be ready in a few weeks. I’ll probably get 20 to 22 kegs per small batch, so it will be interesting to see how long it lasts,” Andy said.
Brewery openings are presented by Spark Breweries and Distilleries, the finest in-venue and production brewing systems available, with local design and support.