Posts from the ‘The Breweries’ Category

Return to the South – the great tour of July.

Once again we have endulged ourselves in a tour of breweries, this time down south for the first time since early 2009. We added 3 more to the list this time around – Bush Shack brewery, Eagle Bay brewery and Occys brewery.

The old favourites were as good as ever. Ducksteins beer was impressive, and the german food cooked the way germans would cook it. Bootleg is still my number 1 – it is exactly what a brewery should be – not too fancy, not tailored for Bogans. And whilst Colonials food was worse, their Kolsch was even better than before, 2nd best beer in the Valley atm!

Anyway, onto the 3 previously unvisited breweries (in order from worst to Best)


Occys Brewery (Vasse). Occys has received a pretty good response from a few online communities and tourism sites. On the other hand one of my friends warned of an impending disappointment. Unfortunately he was right. As our last stop on Saturday we parked in front of the tin shed that is Occys and it looked like a very true blue, old school Aussie outback brewpub, it had a very friendly lounge room feel to it to. – Thats about as far as the positive feedback goes. The most important part of any brewery is its beer, and this was a disaster. The Pale Ale was very bitter, and the rest of the beers did not sound too drinkable either. The best there was the Radler and the was drinkable at best – not good, just drinkable. A mate who was drunk enough to have no taste left manage to down the rest of the Pale Ale and we slowly finished the Radler then left very quickly back to base camp.

Bush Shack Brewery (Yallingup).  Bush Shack brewery was our first stop both days. Its very easy to see how they came about giving it its name. After turning off the main road the one we were on turned into a dirt road, we then had to turn onto an even dirtier and progressively more dirtier and more waterlogged (good for my 4×4, bad for most other people) road. All the with trees towering over in every direction, it was a very isolated place – makes you wonder how they make the place good business. Upon arriving it had this very quirky feel about it. Old school rustic metal figures stood high outside the brewhouse, a beer shrine was built into the side wall and the welcome sign was a right laugh “Warm beer, bad food, lousy service. Welcome”. You could tell this place was made for a casual drink with your mates. There was a foosball table outside, and a circle pool table inside much to our amusement. There was even a video games room across the front yard. Bush Shack proved to be the perfect place to start. Its quiet setting made it easy to have a good chat before heading out for a big day.

The Beer was quite nice to. What was more striking was the strange array they had on offer. Passionfruit, citrus, chocolate, chilli, peach were just a few of the 18 beer infusions on the overhead chalkboard. They did have generic brews as well (Ales, Pilsner, Wheat Darks etc.) which I stuck to. The Pale Ale was very smooth, maybe lacked a little flavour which actually worked out well seeing as I did not want to get hit with a full flavour beer at 10am in the morning. No complaints from anyone, and the staff were only too happy to let us sit at a table that had been set up and reserved for midday – a very friendly gesture very hard to come by anywhere these days (if its set up, you cant sit there no matter how far away the booking is!). Bush Shack I would recommend to anyone as a perfect way to start a brewery tour down south.

Eagle Bay Brewery (Eagle Bay). Eagle bay was by far the standout of the 3. As you idle down the driveway the brewery (very similar looking to Colonial) sits beneath you opening out onto the breathtaking view of a lush green valley between it and the sea. As you turn back all you see is trees, the road has disappeared and you truly feel surrounded by the most idyllic landscape in the world. Once inside we were quickly escorted to our reserved table and greeted by the waiters (most of which worked at Duckstein last time we were down). They knew beer was our priority and wasted no time getting our orders in front of us. Most of us chose between the Pilsner and Kolsch – a beer that comes with a very high reputation down south within our group. Eagle Bay not only met the bar, their Kolsch was even farther superior to that of Duckstein, even Colonials improved brew was belittled by its perfection. Very easy to drink, yet with plenty of flavour. Incredibly refreshing too! Eagle Bays Kolsch is definitely the new number 1 in my books. The Pilsner rates very highly too. Duckstein is no longer #1 for beer amongst our group.

After getting our beer to us we ordered our meals. Mostly Beef burgers, a few pizzas and steak. It was served to us in reasonable time considering there was 10 of us, and they clearly didn’t cut any corners in doing so! Of course I had to get the beef burger as before the tour I had tipped that this could beat Bootleg. Well it turns out I was wrong, but it was very, very good. The bread was very soft, yet held together well. Once again the beetroot added a nice touch and there was just the right amount of salad and mayo to complement the large beef patty. A would suggest to Eagle Bay that if they had have cooked the patty a few seconds less, and added tomato relish to the ingredients, this burger would definitely be in the top 3! Another big plus was the serving was absolutely huge, an inch thick layer of chips covered half the plate, with the burger taking up the other half.

I would put this in at #4 behind Ferals Hop Hog, Mash’ Black Angus and – of course – the unbeatable Bootlegs sirloin steak burger. Making it the only non-steak burger in the top 5.

So my opinion on the order of breweries down south after the trip…

1: Bootleg – perfect food, perfect setting, great beer.

2:Duckstein – perfect food, perfect setting, great beer.

3: Eagle Bay – great food, great setting, perfect beer.

4: Colonial – great food, good setting, perfect beer.

5: Bush Shack – Food?, great setting, good beer.

6: Cowaramup – Food?, good setting, good beer.

7: Occys – Food?, great setting, bad beer.

Down south I still have to go to: Tanglehead, Jarrah Jacks, Mash (bunbury & Rockingham), Old Coast Road Breweries.


Germany in the Valley

Elmars Steins

Germans are well renowned for their beer and their food. Swan Valley has also drawn its own fame for beer and food, breaking the winery mould with 5 breweries (duckstein, feral, elmars, mash, ironbark). So clearly a german influence would propel the Swan Valleys beer cult into the same fame that the surrounding wineries receive. With this in mind German entrepreneurs created Duckstein brewery. A few years later the Perth-based German meats company Elmars opened up their own Brewhaus – Elmars in the Valley 100 metres down the road from Duckstein.

Elmars Weisswurst with sauerkraut & mash

Elmars meats have a reputation, not only are they good by perth standards, their German meats are good by German, even Bavarian standards! So to put their reputation at stake going into beer was a big risk, but it was well rewarded. Elmars in the Valley has its own unique features (as every brewery should have). The most famous is the take-home stein. pay $30 and you get a 2L German-styled glass stein full with the beer of your choice, all home brewed of course. Incredibly, the beer actually tastes Bavarian to! I had recently been to the half-ground between Germany & Austria, the home of lederhosen & oktoberfest, and it was amazing to find that Elmars beer was remarkably similar to beers such as Hofbrau & schofferhofer (which is much better fresh from a tap at their brewery in Germany!) And never anywhere have I seen so much detail go into presenting a single sausage. All the Sausages (and the rest of the food) comes from the original Elmars shop in Mt. Lawley, and is cooked to absolute perfection by specialised German chefs. Elmars really captures the essence of what is Germany.

Duckstein brewery pulls out tradition to market its reputation. Walk into the doors Friday – Sunday and you will here local German bands – all dressed in Lederhosen of course – strutting away stereotypical German music. The handled pint glasses are reminiscent of North German breweries, and once again, the food is outstanding (although a little expensive).  I ordered the Leberkaese steak; an inch thick peice of German meatloaf, with a decent side serve of potato scallops & sauerkraut, which was far better than any supermarket brand around. The Leberkaese had a perfectly soft texture, with a delicate taste. You cant find that anywhere else in WA. The beer was as good as the Margaret river edition, only unfortunately they were out of Kolsch. I ordered the Dunkel, an amber nutty beer with a slight crisp aftertaste, it just worked perfectly with the kraut! My only criticism of SV duckstein was how tightly controlled it was. groups over 12 get kicked out if they dont have a booking, their “pint” glasses are only 400mL and any instances of sculling or drinking from bottles gets you kicked out with no warning… not really German tradition at all!

Ducksteins Leberkaese steak

“Ahh the Ambience”

Fremantle is a cultural haven in Perth, Arts & creativity thrives in its markets, indie/aternative people roam the streets, and brewers are free to explore new facets of beer production. Fremantle is home to the famous Little Creatures and Gage Roads breweries, holding 3 out of 5 of Perths top 10 beers between them, 3 of those being in Australias top 10. Fremantle is also home to more local micro breweries; Blacksalt, Sail & Anchor and The Monk breweries.

Theres no need to explain the success story of Little Creatures, it is the most successful, and most awarded micro brewery in Australia. Its Amber and Pale Ales have been in the national top 10 for 4 years straight and every single one of its beers have been in the top 50. Its popularity has made it the second biggest drawcard for Fremantle tourism today (behind the prison). At the venue, situated on the harbour across from Kailis Bros restaurant, there is a range of seating from outside long tables to cushioned booths, even sitting up in the roof! Because of its popularity ordering food can be a bit slow, I wouldnt even bother from Friday arvo to Sunday arvo. But its well worth the wait, simple meals with big taste. My favourite to date has been the fresh basil & Mozzarella pizza.

Gage roads is the other huge success story. Based in Matilda bay it only does production beer, and it does it well! Gage roads is home to Atomic Pale Ale and my personal favourite, Wahoo. Both beers have been placed in the top 10 in the last 3 years, and despite being on the more expensive side Wahoo has managed to rise up to number 7 in sales of non-mass production beer.

The Monk is different, when you look from the outside it seems like a restaurant, on the inside it seems like a very fancy restaurant. And the food is definitely restaurant quality, presentation is the key here. The beer is good to, I didn’t expect much but it provided well. I was delighted to finally find a place outside of Margaret river that brewed Kolsch! And their Kolsch was up to standards with Duckstein & Colonial to. Every beer brewed at the Monk has won a bronze medal somewhere in 2010, it will be interesting to see how they will try to improve.

Sail & Anchor was never an exciting prospect. The bottle dry dock is average. When we went there it just looked like an ordinary pub with a long list of what they are going to brew next month on the wall. I did end up getting a dry dock poured, and it was better, not great.. just better. My friends ordered different beers and had much better responses, and some of the future brews did look very mouth-watering indeed!

Next stop is Blacksalt on the beach!

Margaret River bliss

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.

Feral makes a stand

21st century Australia; a world of skinny jeans, styled man-hair, ‘green’ cars and all manner of low carb, fruit flavoured and light beers. Australia is fast losing its working class, tough stereotype. Wouldn’t it be nice to know there is still places you can go that really feel like they were built and owned by man..?

Well there is. Out in the swan valley, away from the other three, surrounded by a desert of wineries, is a brewery making a stand. A brewery fighting for whats australian, and whats manly. A gravel parking lot opens up into a truly old-school looking tavern. Big, untrimmed wooden struts bound together by 30cm thick rope line the verandah. A red tin roof with exposed internal structure loom above the bar. And theres no fancy looking CO2 taps, just pure steel pump taps screwed onto an un-varnished wooden wall, the way beer was meant to be poured.

Feral Brewery, Swan Valley: the way god intended beer to be consumed.

The beers certainly do not disappoint (unless your a metrosexual of course). The Flagship ‘Hop Hog’ beer (5.8%) is a strong, aggressive tasting beer, with a lingering dry aftertaste. Its not brewed with grapes, peach, mango etc.. its brewed with pine needles, thats right, pine needles! If you can drink a pint of hop hog, you can call yourself a true man.

On the other end of the beer spectrum is ‘the runt’. Feral advertise this as an embarrassment to buy & consume (evident in its name). It is a toned down version of the glorified Hop Hog. at 4.7% it still isn’t too weak – only slightly below most mass produced beer – but by Ferals standards, its not a beer man should drink. This is no more evident than in the description of the beer:

For those who can’t hack the true Hop HOG experience … ‘The Runt’ is a more delicate, dry and lightly hopped alternative. Take a teaspoon of cement and harden up, princess!

Further telling signs of the fight for Australia and mankind are in the names. Feral doesn’t use flashy, well worded names; they use names such as the following: Feral White, Barrel Hog, Boris, Rust, Tusk, Razorback, German Mild, Cow. The list goes on to include 23 beers (one of which is mass produced – Feral White). Most of Ferals beers fall above  5.8% in the alcohol content to. Out of 23 beers 10 are above, with only 4 falling below 4.5%.

Feral brewery is a place for man to go to the test, prove their manliness, prove they haven’t falling victim of Americanisation. As one of the last stands against a metrosexual takeover of the industry Feral brewery serves up the strong, full strength beer, old school pub food and unrefined build to make a truly scary place for anyone wearing skinny leg jeans. Feral brewery surely does live up to its slogan: undomesticated yet sophisticated.

for a review of their Burger go here:

Feral breweries website: