Watts River Brewing


Watts River Brewing

7 Hunter Road
VIC 3777

(03) 5962 1409
Open Hours

Thursday: 11am to 5pm
Fri & Sat: 11am to 9pm Sun & Mon: 11am to 5pm

In 2014, when Lion decided to move White Rabbit from its original home in Healesville to Geelong, the news was met with some concern from both locals and those who would regularly make the trip to visit the brewery.

But, for two local families, White Rabbit’s departure was viewed as an opportunity: a chance to create a new brewery for Healesville. The quartet was made up of Aaron Malmborg and Ben Hamilton and their partners Emily Sheppard and Hanna Hamilton, who launched Watts River Brewing in 2015.

Aaron and Ben had met as brewers at White Rabbit and, when it came time for the brewery to move, neither they nor Emily or Hanna had any interest in leaving too. Indeed, their attachment to the town was such that it led them to the name for their business: Watts River is the waterway that skirts Healesville and was diverted close to a century ago to create the iconic Maroondah Dam.

Despite sharing two brewers – and the same initials – as White Rabbit, from the outset the foursome was keen to establish their own identity. On the beer front, Aaron and Ben set about achieving that with a core range focused on tight, balanced beers that sit a degree or two away from where you might expect to find them style wise: a lean and dry IPA; a bright, malt-driven blonde ale; a lightly smoky stout. Many make good use of barley grown on Ben’s parents’ family farm, a paddock to pint story the Watts River team proudly emphasises as a regional brewer.

But, step away from the core trio and you’ll find experimentation running rife; as the barrel-lined walls of the brewery would suggest, there’s a penchant for slightly funkier beers. Among those is the brewery’s as-close-to-a-regular-release-as-they-can-manage Brett Pale Ale, a beer that acts as an impressive showcase of how clean and balanced a Brettanomyces beer can be, how strains of the yeast can be used to add appealing fruity characters to an otherwise line and length beer.

Add in the barrels and there's a whole other level; just ask anyone who attended the Crafty Cabal Meet The Brewer session at the Good Beer Week launch in 2018 about the 15 month barrel aged Brett beer...

Initially, Ben and Aaron operated as gypsy brewers as they waited for their stainless to arrival and for council approval to come through before, within a year of launch, the tanks were in and production moved to an old warehouse close to the eponymous river.

The warehouse has become a popular hangout for locals as well as an established stop on the Valley’s tourist trail. It’s easy to see why: not only do the beers offer a diverse selection of experiences, but they’ve given their home plenty of colour too: the brewery fills the rear, vintage furniture and walls of cartons add bursts of orange, red, blue and green inside and out, while repurposed equipment and even a piano add to the charm. Barrels line one side as well as acting as furniture and the homemade bar is the kind to intrigue fans of Heath Robinson.

It’s an insight into the brewery’s ethos and, as such, a great place to enjoy their beers.

As of 2022, it's a one-family-run operation too: co-founders Aaron and Emily stepped away from the brewery, leaving Ben and Hanna to forge ahead with building Watts River Brewing as Healesville's only independent brewery.

Since then, they've introduced an annual lineup of four Belgian-style beers, highlighting their mutual passion for this distinctive brewing tradition, as well as their desire to keep following a path few others in Australia have chosen.

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Stories featuring Watts River Brewing

Core Range

Watts River Blonde
Blonde Ale
Watts River Stout
Smoky Stout
Watts River IPA
Watts River Brett Pale Ale
Brett Pale Ale
Watts River River Session Pale Ale
Session Pale Ale
Watts River Nipper
Session Ale

Limited Releases

Watts River Belgian Beers 1 to 4
Belgian Style Ales
6.5% & 7.0% & 8.7% & 11.0%
Watts River 6 Celebration Ale
Belgian Ale
Watts River & Jayden Ong Two Bites
Barrel-Aged Saison With Syrah Marc
Watts River P2G Pils & Doppelbock (with Hard Road)
Pilsner & Doppelbock
5.0% & 6.8%
Watts River Isolation XPA
Watts River & Sailors Grave Horse To Water
Pineapple Farmhouse Ale
Watts River Brut IPA
Brut IPA
Watts River Quad