An update on proceedings


Well with 8 months to go until I’m 21. There is still a lot to do!

15 breweries to knock off – Billabong, Blackwood Valley, Matsos, Old Coast Road, Tanglehead, Wild Bull, Jarrah Jacks, Brew42, Blacksalt, Moody Cow, Northbridge (if its finished!), Last Drop Bedfordale, Mash Bunbury, Mash Rockingham & Cheeky Monkey.

Gonna be a busy a summer break! But heres the progress to date.

Bootleg Brewery in Margaret river is still the most authentic Aussie brewery, and therefore the best – been there 3 times now.Also still the best Burger by far, thanks to that incredible BBQ sauce.

Eagle Bay & Colonial breweries also MR region have the best beer – their Kolsch are just incredible. These two also have incredible views and a nice sophistication.

Little Creatures is nice, albiet a little overrated – 5 times we’ve visited the famous Freo brewery now. The Golden Ale is my favourite. A brilliant atmosphere, it really encompasses  the Fremantle spirit well.

Some of the lesser known breweries such as Last Drop, Ironbark & Mad Monk were very impressive, holding up well to the big names.

Feral brewery is easily the manliest place one can venture, not too far away either!

Elmars, Duckstein & Mash in the valley provide for an excellent day out, top notch beer and food at all three.

Occys is terrible, Principle you don’t really feel that its a brewery and Cowaramup is a little dull (although we were all dead when we were there).

Next stop is Blacksalt, then down south again over summer to knock off the Perth to Busselton stretch! Hopefully the far south breweries will be conquered by the end of summer holidays too, leaving only the few Northerly breweries to go.

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A disastrous second coming


The picturesque Old Swan Brewery (now called the “Old Brewery”) looks incredible from the outside, and is the most convenient brewery in WA being right in the centre of Perth, easily reachable for the majority of the state. The classic exterior looks stunning sandwiched between the Swan river and Kings Park. Once you get inside the classic architecture gives way to modern polished Jarrah and tinted glass seen in many of the most successful breweries down south and in the hills.

All this really gives you a good feel about the place, makes you feel like you’re onto a winner. Unfortunately that feeling ends with the first sip of their homebrews. One word resounds above all the rest – bitter, very bitter. Bitter on the palate, followed by a bitter aftertaste… seems like they haven’t learned any new tricks since the days that the vats created Lion Nathans signature brews. The beer was drinkable, but not worthy of a status any higher than that of mass produced cartons such as Swan, Tooheys etc.

With one set back, and after hearing such high accolades of their signature tommahawk steak we were certain the food would be better. Again, we were disappointed. I ordered the steak burger and my mate the chicken burger. Both were quite tasteless. The buns were barely cooked, and the patties of each were falling apart and had very little taste. The one saving grace was the interesting choice of sauces, especially the Guacamole on the chicken burger – this was the only thing that made the burger just stomachable. Besides this the trip to the Old brewery was a huge disappointment.

For future reference, stick to its signature dish – the tommahawk, and save the drinking for before and after, the beer just isn’t worth it at all.

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.

Pubathon Totals


GUYS

Tom 49

Anthony 47

Adam 44

Vince 43

Palmers 25

 

GIRLS

Kellie 16

Carissa 9

Sarah 8

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

Demise in a basement


When you make a pub, there are a few sure-fire ways to be successful. 1. build next to a university, 2. well priced food and drinks 3. Quirky fixings – something to make it unique. Three simple steps that surely will have your pub a hit in no time. You’d have to be the worst businessman in the world to let that fail.

The Basement on Broadway is one such case of the “perfect” setting for a pub failing. It was built just metres from UWA, in between student housing. The drinks were the cheapest I have found outside of uni. The food was cheap, and very good! And its drawcard; it had a transparent urinal wall (one sided of course), so you could pretend to piss on the crowd. It had plenty of daily activities including quiz nights, student nights & cheap food nights, which regularly gathered decent crowds. Yet it still managed to fail, how?

Well, the start of its downfall was I guess a major point, the murder of one co-owner by the other is a good way to ruin your business. Despite this, the next owners had it all set up, they had popular quiz nights, famous $11 chicken parmies, the infamous urinal wall, and proximity to a very large student audience.

The next blow came in two. In one week they ruined Monday night at the basement. Formerly a quiz night (hosted by some excellent person!) with $11 chicken Parmigiana, at the start of 2011 the quiz night was replaced by a cheaper alternative, and the parmies were increased to $15, a good deterrent for tight-budget uni students vouching on a cheap meal and the chance to win beer. Originally the crowds still came but as soon as uni started the crowds moved to the university tavern, and captain Stirling another minute down the road.

The third brick in the wall was raising draught beer prices, and slashing the range. in 2010 Basement had 9 draught beers, averaging just $16.70 for a jug. Currently they have 6 draught beers averaging $17.40 per jug. Not much right? But take into consideration that they got rid of the 3 most expensive beers, yet the average price still went up. This was the biggest nail in the coffin, as university students could now get substantially cheaper beer at their guild tavern. The basements audience was gone.

The final nail was a face-saving attempt. Knowing that their university orientated tavern was now failing, the owners attempted to pitch the ailing tavern at older generations. 30-50 year olds. To do this they got rid of the novelty urinal wall, to make the place more “formal”. They started advertising more old fashioned bands with posters, a larger choice of wine & spirits came out, and the food was made even more expensive, to try and keep uni students away. This didn’t work. The older population around the area are on the other side of the suburb, closer to much more elegant pubs around riverside settings.

To this day the Basement remains an eerily quiet pub, with the occasional lunch crowd and quiet evening groups, just a freckle on its glorious past.