Margaret River is renowned for its many wineries, amazing wildlife, pristine beaches, world famous cheese and chocolate factories and classy accomodation. One aspect that is only now adding itself to MRs drawcard is its breweries. Dotted through a grape dominated landscape is five breweries, all incredible in their own right. Duckstein, Cowaramup, Bootleg, Colonial and Bug Ocean breweries all challenge the perception that Margaret river is solely a wine haven.

February 2009, five guys, myself included set up camp in Gracetown, 15 minutes out of Margaret river. Clearly we weren’t there to taste the “fine” wine. We were there for the breweries. After deciding on the designated driver for day 1 through a game of circle of death, we headed of to brewery number 1, Duckstein. Duckstein started off in the Swan Valley as a traditional german beerhaus. After a partnership agreement with Saracens estate, the duo went about building a multimillion dollar, state-of-the-art establishment to begin brewing their already renowned beer. And it was impressive. Driving up a paved driveway through golden gates, our eyes were greeted with winebarrel walls, jarrah decking & perfectly manicured gardens. Sitting on the deck overlooking the huge damn was peaceful, we got in early to avoid the crowds. Between us we ordered Kolsh & Dunkel (a banana infused beer). The Kolsch was always going to be a winner, but the Dunkel had an intriguingly different, and refreshing aftertaste. Stop #1 was a success.

The second stop off was Bootleg, “an oasis of beer in a desert of wine”. Only one of us was game enough to take on the trademark Raging Bull, a 10% dark beer. After the first few sips he replied with “not that bad” but as the glass became more empty the facial expression became more dire. Clearly a beer best drunk in small amounts. The rest of us had a range of Hefeweiss, Pale & Amber ales; all of which were up to standards. The most memorable part of bootleg was the BBQ sauce. It was quite simply perfect! Made with the Raging Bull, it was a lot stronger than supermarket brands with a smokey finish. Myself and one of my friends ended up buying a bottle each to take home.

Stop #3, the final stop of Day 1, was Colonial. Again we split between Kolsch, Pale ales & Wheat beers. And again what stood out was the food. We ordered Brewery (tapas) platters which included Kalamata Olives, Turkish bread, Persian Fetta, Semi-sundried tomatoes & Caperberries. While most pubs use the cheapest possible, it was clear that this platter was made with top quality, homegrown produce.

We set off on Day 2 with a new designated driver, first stop Cowaramup. After a heavy day of drinking it was fair to say we weren’t in the best state for another big day. Nonetheless Cowaramup did have decent beer, once you found the place! within the first hour of being there we were almost asleep but we pushed on back to Duckstein & Colonial breweries.

Bug Ocean brewery is on the agenda for the next trip, as is Occys, Bush Shack & Wicked Ale breweries in Yallingup.

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