The Ogden name will be familiar to many Western Australian drinkers. The family has enjoyed a long association with iconic hotels in and around Perth for generations – and now they have a closer connection to beer than ever before.
At the start of 2019, the first beers bearing the Ogden name were poured for customers at the Windsor Hotel in South Perth, bringing locally brewed beer to yet another postcode of a city that had, at least until recent years, seemed resistant to the march of brewpubs and taprooms witnessed elsewhere across WA.
The opening of an onsite brewery is the latest chapter for the Federation Filigree-styled Windsor Hotel, whose broad verandah has welcomed drinkers since 1898 – the same year as the nearby Perth Zoo first opened its doors. Back then, the South Perth area was fuelled by the ferry service across the Swan River, a two-minute walk along quaint Mends Street from the hotel, while the Chinese market gardeners who remained after the Kalgoorlie Gold Rush gradually disappeared.
Fast-forward 120 years and the area is awash with development, capitalising on its proximity to the CBD, the river and the views that come with such a location. Indeed, a $330 million mixed use development was taking shape across from the brewery as those first beers were pouring, bringing the promise of more thirsty punters to the area.
Located in the stylish surrounds of the hotel’s recently renovated beer garden, one that’s replete with flowing water and greenery, Odgen’s is first and foremost a brewpub. Overseen by third generation publicans Geoffrey and William Ogden, the brewery is helmed by Damien Bussemaker, whose prior stints at Mash Brewing and Elmar’s in the Valley prepared him for the role of slaking the thirst of South Perth locals.
Occupying what used to be known as the Singapore Room, Damo’s brew deck resembles that of a festival DJ’s setup, overlooking the drinkers under the umbrellas and grapevines. Behind him sits the rest of the six hectolitre brewery from Yolong in China, one capable in its initial setup of producing a little over 100,000 litres of beer in a year – more than enough for the exclusive, draught-only pours at the Windsor Hotel.
Given the size of the of the venue – the garden bar alone has a capacity of 450 people – and the broad tastes of its punters, the Ogden’s lineup is focused on approachability with a dash of the traditional. The historical leanings might come in the form of classic German styles and the use of noble hops from Europe or in the more contemporary use of the “Four Cs” from the US – Cascade, Centennial, Chinook and Columbus. It’s a sensibility that’s seen the Lager and Pale Ale quickly become favourites among the opening quartet; over time, expect to see the range augmented by a red ale and an IPA plus collaborations with brewing buddies from around the Perth CBD.
Inside the main venue, the Windsor kitchen serves up a variety of modern Australian pub food and wood-fired pizzas, the sort of offering well suited to accompanying the in-house brews. Most weekends, you can enjoy both while taking in live music in the Garden Bar, directly in front of the brewery, too. Although, despite his aforementioned setup, when it comes to this side of the entertainment offering, Damo is happy to leave it to the professionals.