Posts from the ‘The food’ 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.


No Brewery, No Burger

Its official (in my mind)! the only places that can make amazing burgers are breweries and pubs! I’ve been to some of the “best” burger joints in town, and all are highly disappointing. FAB burgers are too small, Just burgers are too dry, Burger edge is too plain.. arguably the three best burger joints in town are failures!

Although they are far from the worst.. very far from the worst… the following is a list of the worst…

#5: FAB steak burger

While there was nothing wrong with the taste (which was exceptionally normal.. not good, normal) the size was just ridiculous. for $15 (on special from 18.50!) I got a burger 1/3 the size of a normal dining plate. I could fit it in the palm of my hand for gods sake!  The height was no taller than the length of an average middle finger either, which was what I wanted to point at the owners!

#4: Curtin Library Cafes Works Burger

Its a towering task, yet wierdly small. They stack the burger up so high that you cant fit it in your mouth, however I’ve seen far bigger burgers that are much more manageable. The burger is just too thin, stupid really. Besides the proportions the meat is clearly low-grade, the salads are soggy, the sauce is scarce and the buns are undercooked… go to the Tav if you want something decent

#3: Bucking Bull Innaloos steak burger

The softest, soggiest patty I have ever witnessed.. and its meant to be steak! It literally falls apart in your hands!  Theres redemption at the Hillaries franchise where proper steak is indeed used

#2: Hungry Jacks Whitfords Whopper

Hungry jacks are usually just edible by my standards.. not good, but if theres no other options I don’t mind.. this encounter changed that though. I open the wrapping of my Whopper and bam! sauce is just everywhere! its smothered all over the packaging, the bun is soaked in Mayo, its seeped all through the salad and in a matter of seconds the whole burger is soggy as hell, burgers are NOT meant to be soggy!

#1: MacDonalds Kingsway Grand Angus…

Was anyone other than Maccas expected to get this? I was completely sober, and starving.. the only place open nearby was macdonalds so we went there, three of us went for Angus burgers as they are apparently slightly better quality.. All three of us vommited later that night.. one before we even left the carpark! Macdonalds makes the worst burgers the world has ever tasted.


Note to self, never eat a burger again unless its from a Brewery or Pub!

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

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.

The Great Brewery Burger

As previously stated, it is my belief that the brewery burger is indeed the best burger money can buy due to these three facts:

#1: They taste great! The beef is fat, the steak is juicy, the bacon is tender, the chicken is crisp, the egg doesn’t fall out, the bun covers the contents. What more could you want!?

#2: They are huge, most “Gourmet burger” joints these days give you burgers the size of a big mac. Brewery burgers are as big as the plate, and come with an equally impressive serve of beer battered fries. And this is for roughly the same price as a much smaller burger and fries from typical burger joints (around $18-$25 depending on what you want)

#3: They almost always come with a deal in the form of a cheaper beer.

So without further ado I give you my list of the top 5 burgers in Western Australia (subject to change).

#1: Bootleg Breweries Giant Bootleg Sirloin Burger ($24, +$2 for bacon & $1 for egg)

Sirloin Steak, BBQ braised onions, Swiss Cheese, Roast Capsicum, Fresh Salad, Bacon, Egg, Bootlegs BBQ sauce in Turkish bread

Now I bought this rather hesitantly over a chicken parmi due to the fact that it has beetroot, and dark ale inspired BBQ sauce. These are two ingredients I usually steer clear of, but in this case I just decided to give it a shot. Not only was I happy with it, it was amazing. The Bootleg BBQ sauce was so good infact that I bought a bottle to take home. Even the beetroot added a well rounded, delightfully fresh flavour that is hard to come by with burgers these days. The grilled steak wasn’t dry, the Braised onions weren’t soggy, everything was just perfect. Every single ingredient in this burger is better than anything I’ve experienced in my travels.

This burger is a must try for all food lovers who venture to Perth, I am yet to find a better burger anywhere in the world.

#2: Mash (Swan Valley) Breweries Black Angus Rump Steak Sandwich ($24)

Black Angus Steak, Ale braised Onions, Cider Chutney, Bacon, Capel Valley Cheddar, Dill Pickles, Rocket, Mustard Aioli

My friends and I did a Swan Valley brewery tour mid 2010. we had to decide between Elmars in the Valley & Mash brewery for our lunch stopover, Despite amazing German meat at Elmars we chose Mash, as it was closer and we were staving! This proved to be a good idea, 7 out of 15 of us got the Angus Sandwich, 7 of us were very impressed. Mash brewery knows how to use its best asset (beer) to its advantage when cooking. The steak was cooked in Amber Ale, the onions in Pale ale, the chutney made with pear cider, and the Fries in Pale Ale. Top it off with Mash Brewerys Amber Ale and you have a Beer /Food combo that has never come together so well. If you want a great burger without travelling to down south, Mash brewery is the place to go. I have however been told Rockingham & Bunbury Mash don’t have the same quality, and will test this claim soon.

#3: Feral Breweries Hop Hog Burger ($24)

Beef & Pork Pattie, Chutney, Margaret River Cheddar, Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato

Feral brewery is on the forefront of the battle against Metrosexuality influencing beer. Their “Harden the F**k up” attitude towards beer is also evident in their cooking. In simple terms Feral make a burger any man would want. An enormous pattie, made from 3 of mans best mates (beef, pork and beer), plenty of Bacon, cheese and a pinch of salad. This is a recipe that will kick the most staunch metrosexual into drinking Ferals famous “drink some concrete & harden up” Hop Hog beer – which is a great (and manly) accomplice to the man of all burgers.

#4: Indian Ocean Breweries Famous Indi Burger ($19.50)

Beef Pattie, Onions, Pancetta, Brie, pickle, Sundried Tomato, rocket, tomato chutney

Cheap, Original, Quality… These are the first 3 words that pop into mind after trying the ‘Indi’ burger. The truly gourmet fillings of the burger create a new, unexperienced taste. Thing thing is, where every other burger maker uses the more traditional cheddar or swiss cheese, and relies on the pattie and sauce for the main flavour, Indi brewery have decided the cheese can be a major weapon of taste. The brie they use (I believe it is Margaret River black label) is a strong, soft cheese which melts well into the beef pattie creating a completely different and – despite the lack of sauce – big flavour that leaves you drooling over every bite. I enjoyed this burger so much that I completely forgot about the beer sitting next to me getting progressively warmer. And despite the low price this was just as big as the rest of its heftier counterparts.

#5: Last Drop (Canning Vale) Breweries Cheese Burger ($21.50)

Beef Pattie, bacon, cheddar & swiss cheese, gherkin, tomato, caramelised onion, Mesculin, Aioli

The only cheeseburger I’ve seen on a brewery menu did not fail to impress. Unlike MacDonalds they actually use real cheese, yes REAL cheese! The mixture of swiss cheese, gherkin & Mesculin in particular creates a fantastic antipasto flavoured burger That you cant get from steak or beef burgers. The pattie is still decent in proportions, the cheese is piled on and the don’t come short with the fancy stuff either. Aioli was an interesting choice for sauce but it did work well in the end.

Other Noteworthies:

Last Drop (Canning Vale) Breweries Steak Sandwich

Indian Ocean Breweries Free Range Chicken Burger