True Brew: Margaret River Brewhouse plot expansion with former Lion brewer Simon Hanley

Aiming to take WA beer to the world as it opens a new production facility, Margaret River Brewhouse has appointed former Lion brewing and beverage manager Simon Hanley as head brewer.

Raised in Perth but with deep family roots in Margaret River, Hanley has 30 years experience in the beer and wine industries, having worked in various roles with leading WA wineries, including Happs, Howard Park, Leeuwin Estate and Houghton before joining Lion more than a decade ago.

At Lion, he created Australia’s first gluten free all-rice lager, Hahn Ultra Crisp, and developed new products for top-selling brands such as Tooheys, Little Creatures, White Rabbit, XXXX and James Squire while working between Sydney and Auckland.

Camera IconHead brewer Simon Hanley, and brewers Magda Bustos Hevia, Caitlin Ellis and Joe Grieg
Credit: Jodie Berry/Studio Berry

Hanley has been a judge and steward at wine, beer and cider shows across Australia, New Zealand and Hong Kong.

Returning home to Margaret River in a far more hands-on role, the brewer is excited to continue his lifelong passion for fermentation which began with fermented teas with his grandparents as a kid.

“I am passionate in experimenting with flavour,” he told True Brew. “This has been a cornerstone of my passion for all things fermented for many years.

“Brewing is creative and exploratory whilst having a solid basis in science,” Hanley added.

I am passionate in experimenting with flavour.

“I love that there are a large number of styles of beer . . . from barley wines, sours, dark beers, and everything in between.

“This gives the producer and, more importantly, the customer an endless amount of flavour profiles to explore.”

While his 12 years at Lion was arguably focused on quantity and consistency, Hanley says he’s never strayed from the pointy end of brewing.

“I have always been close to craft beer in my previous roles, from innovation and production through to judging and mentoring,” he said.

“The craft beer industry is an exciting and dynamic place to work. There is an abundance of energy in the industry with so many passionate people.

“Returning home to Margaret River and particularly MRB, I am excited to be involved in a much more hands-on approach and engage with all the other fantastic brewers out there.”

Margaret River Brewhouse co-owner Iliya Hastings.
Camera IconMargaret River Brewhouse director Iliya Hastings. Credit: Supplied

Director Iliya Hastings said Margaret River Brewhouse was hunting for a head brewer who could maintain a high level of quality and diversity but at higher volumes in their new brewery expected to start production in spring 2023.

“We needed a skill set that balanced the art versus science dynamic that makes great craft beer with being able to replicate it to a wider audience,” he said.

“Simon coming on board provides us with the energy and experience that marries with our objectives to take Margaret River beer to the wide world.

“It’s exciting times.”

Pickle Beer
Camera IconGarage Project’s Pickle Beer. Credit: Supplied


Today Vic Park beer mecca Dutch Trading Co. celebrates Garage Project’s unlikely success story — Pickle Beer, a 4.3 per cent cucumber dill pickle sour.

The pickle party is free from midday until there’s no more pickles. The menu will feature beer battered pickles, a double smash pickle burger, plate o’ pickles and more.

Margaret River Brewhouse and King Road Brewery’s Close Encounters.
Camera IconMargaret River Brewhouse and King Road Brewery’s Close Encounters. Credit: Supplied

DTC will be pouring Pickle Beer plus at least five other Garage Project brews. There will be giveaways and even a life-size pickle cut-out for superfans of the Kiwi behemoth’s unusual beer.

You get the pickle, I mean, picture.



Margaret River Brewhouse and King Road Brewing turn their shared obsession with Strata hops into a mesmerising modern west coast IPA.

Close Encounters threatens to abduct beer lovers with a 7.8 per cent ABV and possesses more bitterness than a hardcore conspiracy theorist.

Clear, copper-hued and resinous, this dream team beer is superb. The proof is out there. 92/100

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