Beers are being brewed at the former Feral brewpub in the Swan Valley for the first time in more than two years as the new owners' plans take shape.
Late last year, we announced Feral co-founder Al Carragher (above left) was part of the new ownership team planning to turn the iconic venue shuttered by Coca-Cola Europacific Partners into the Baskerville Tavern. And now they've brewed the first beers to bear the Slumdog Brewing name.
A dry-hopped Pils and a hazy pale ale hit taps at the Great Northern Hotel, Al's pub in Melbourne, earlier this month. And completing the connection between the new and old operations is the man behind them: Will Irving (above right) was the right hand man of Feral's other founder, Brendan Varis, up until the sale and remained with Feral until 2020.
The first two beers were brewed at Edith Cowan University, however, as Will completed maintenance work on the kit upon which he helped create and brew some of Australia's most trailblazing beers. But last week he was back on the tools at the venue that played a significant role in changing the course of beer in this country, putting 5,000 litres of beer into tanks.
"Slumdog was my brother's nickname that goes back years," Al says, "and it just goes well with Baskerville.
"It had always been in the back of my mind that the pub could be a stepping stone to a brewery when the right opportunity came."
He says Will has been given "fairly free rein" over the beers that will bear the Slumdog name, with the choice of a hazy at the start a reflection of the current beer landscape, and the other debut release coming about as he's "always been a fan of a pilsner".
When the venue opens, the intention is to dedicate seven of the 27 taps to Slumdog beers with the remainder featuring a mixture of other WA craft breweries and Swan Draught. And once they're fully up and running in the brewhouse, Slumdog beers may appear in the Perth and Melbourne markets too.
As for Will's return to the Valley, it's been focused on recommissioning a brewhouse that had sat unused since 2020; liquid had been left in some of the vessels which meant there was much that needed replacing, with Covid-related delays only turning it into a more drawn-out process.
By the time we caught up at the Great Northern in early May, however, it was ready to roll: "If I wasn't here, I could be making beer," Will said then.
"I'm glad Al got [the brewpub]," he added. "I cut my teeth there and have a soft spot for it."
Beyond the debut beers, Will's eyeing up an XPA, a rockmelon sour, an "old school brown ale", and a mid-strength among others. His plan is to continue brewing with Slumdog until FOUND – a long-term project he's working on with another Feral alumni, Steve Finney – takes shape in Perth, while training a new brewer to take over.
As for Al, he says: "The future depends on how it goes. We've got 11 acres there so expansion could definitely happen."
Once the Baskerville Tavern opens, you'll be able to try Slumdog beers at 152 Haddrill Road, Baskerville.