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Gage Roads

Gage Roads find a permanent Fremantle home with an on-site brewery, gastropub menu and a refurbed warehouse venue designed to make you feel right at home.

By Jade Barker

It’s not often when a new venue opens it immediately feels like it has always belonged.

But for the gang behind Gage Roads, the site for their first public-facing brewery could not have been a better fit.

More than 17 years after brothers Bill and John Hoedemaker and pal Peter Nolin used a credit card to fund their craft-beer brand, Gage Roads has grown from its humble beginnings to a mega brewery now transforming the almost hundred-year-old former cargo A-Shed in Fremantle's historic Victoria Quay into their "spiritual home".

"Gage Roads was named after this place - the shipping channel between Fremantle and Rottnest Island. Our beers have been inspired by the coast here and the lifestyle we love; this is the perfect site for us," Gage Road's Chief Operating Officer and life-long Freo local Aaron Heary tells Lost in Fremantle.

Heary, who helped launch Fremantle's famed Little Creatures Brewery in the early noughties, was one of Gage Road's first employees. Having met the founders when they worked at the original Freo craft beer venue, Sail and Anchor, a friendship was formed sharing beers and sometimes even ingredients. A few years later, when crossing paths at a conference in the USA, the seed was planted for Heary to join Gage Roads. It didn't take much convincing for him to jump on board.

Since, Gage Roads has grown to become one of Australia's leading independent brewers, pumping out award-winning craft beers from a warehouse in Palmyra on the outskirts of Fremantle. Yet the time and place wasn’t right to open a venue the public could visit, until now.

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Converting the A-Shed, a 100-meter-long heritage-listed building dating to 1926, into a brewery, restaurant and bar was a massive undertaking. Immense thought went into every detail so the sprawling site would have broad yet homely appeal.

"We want to attract all walks of life," Heary says. "We coined the term the 'ultimate West Australian beach house' as that's what we want it to feel like when you stepped inside. When you welcome people into your house, you build a connection with them, and that's what we really tried to do here."

The 1500-capacity venue is divided into various spaces, from "party zones" where DJ booths will be set up on the waterfront deck, to a lounge-room space complete with couches and a fireplace.  Family-friendly areas with games and a playground featuring a hollowed out 1960's Land Cruiser and a retired cray boat are ripe for kids to climb.

Everywhere you look, there are nods to the local area, from the materials used for the fit-out, such as recycled jarrah wood bar tops from Fremantle harbour to the artworks on the walls by home-grown artists, through to the food menu that showcases local WA produce.

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Executive Chef Danny Sanchez designed the food offering to pair with beer, with plates like Braised Pork Belly or Kingfish tacos to pizzas from a classic Margherita or Pepperoni.

Inspired by the coastal setting, seafood features heavily with Rottnest Island swordfish schnitzel, Albrolhos octopus, Fremantle Lobster rolls and Snapper ceviche, a few current favourites.

The star attraction is, naturally, is the beer. Heary proclaims it the "freshest in the world", made on-site in 16 x 25 hectolitres tanks pumped directly to the bar-taps. Along with Gage's core beer range, punters can also sample a rotating roster of brewery exclusives created by head brewer Simone Clements. Beyond the beers, there's also an all-WA line-up of wines and spirits.

Heary says the hope is the venue will attract new visitors to Fremantle and help revitalise this part of Fremantle port.

"We love Freo, and we want to showcase it to the world, plus we see this as a huge opportunity to reconnect Freo with the harbour and unlock the full potential of the precinct. Our vision is that we'll become an iconic part of Freo and help this amazing place continue to grow".

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Photo credit: Shot By Thom / Thom Davidson

Gage Roads