If there’s nothing as satisfying as the first sip of an ice-cold pint after a long day, imagine the first sip of a cold one poured fresh from the gleaming taps of a brewery almost three years in the making. There’s no doubt that Lee McAlister-Smiley took a moment to savour the first frothie poured at White Lies Brewing’s brand-new Seventeen Mile Rocks taproom when it opened in October – after all, it was the culmination of a process that first kicked off in the lockdown-riddled days of 2020. Having maxed out the production capacity at his Sumner microbrewery, Lee decided White Lies was ready to take the next step and jump up a bracket or two – not just in terms of brewing volume, but distribution and overall presence in the local beer scene. He snagged an impressively sized warehouse space in the heart of an industrial park in Seventeen Mile Rocks early on in the process, after identifying a need for more quality food and drink spots in the community. “The whole concept was to bring a big vibrant venue to the area, because it’s starved out here on the western side,” says Lee. “We’ve got one of the largest parks in the western suburbs (Rocks Riverside Park) at the end of our street. On any given weekend there are thousands of people that visit that park, but there are no food options and no drink options – there’s nothing around in the nearby vicinity.”
Due to lengthy delays in the development application process, Lee and his team were forced to push back the construction of the taproom to this year. It hasn’t been all doom and gloom, however, with White Lies’ larger brew kit – a 25-hL system boasting 26,000 litres of fermentation volume – coming online in 2021, boosting production and distribution efforts to the point where White Lies is now found in more than 50 stores, including Liquorland and Vintage Cellars, as well as more boutique retailers like My Beer Dealer. The Sumner location is now primarily a distillery for White Lies’ small-batch-spirit-making offshoot Ginesis, which released its first whisky this year – a smoky drop aged in French oak barrels. “We went back through all of the records and this is the first modern whisky from Brisbane that was brewed, fermented, aged and released all in Brisbane,” says Lee. “There have been other whiskies, but they’ve always been either brewed, fermented or aged off site before being brought in for maturation in Brisbane and then released here.” Ginesis has a second whisky release primed for December, which will be available alongside its range of double-distilled gins and vodkas.
With all of the red tape cleared away, White Lies Brewing’s 260-person capacity taproom is now open to the public. Boasting plenty of space across the cavernous interior and two beer-garden spaces on either side of the venue, White Lies has room to spare. You’ll find most folks gathered around the bar, though, which is equipped with a whopping 30 taps – pouring everything from Lee’s core, seasonal and barrel-aged releases, as well as other beverages made on site. “We wanted to have the biggest tap list amongst the craft breweries around,” says Lee. “We wanted to be the most diverse – so we’ve got 23 taps of beer on at the moment, and another seven taps of either ginger beer or alcoholic sarsaparilla, alcoholic lemon squash and cocktails on tap.” Moving forward, Lee is in the process of securing an operator for the brewery’s in-house kitchen, which he hopes will serve fare a notch or two above your standard pub food. Lee is also looking to add an entertainment element to the brewery’s weekend itinerary, including live music. “We are trying to strike that balance between a family-welcome place, and something that’s a little more mature,” Lee explains. “We want to cater for the groups that want to come out and see some live music or stay until midnight and catch up with a group of mates.”
White Lies Brewing’s Seventeen Mile Rocks location is now trading Wednesday to Sunday. Hit up the Stumble Guide for operating hours and contact details.