I'm a freelance writer and photographer living in Perth, Western Australia. You can follow my musings at https://www.jennifermorton.com.au/
Published September 7th 2018
There's more to the Margaret River region than surfing and wine
The view from Eagle Bay Brewery
It's natural for your mind to instantly think of all the wineries and cellar doors you'll enjoy when visiting the Margaret River region of Western Australia. And rightfully so, there are over 200 vineyards and around 100 cellar doors open to the curious and thirsty. Wine is a big (and delicious) business but so is craft beer. And Margs (local talk) is dotted with 10 breweries worth getting frothy about.
Me, I love a cold one, especially on a hot summer's day but let's face it, beer is delicious all year-round. So, for all the beer enthusiasts out there, this post's for you.
Bush Shack Brewery, Yallingup
Bush Shack is the first microbrewery that I visited during my maiden trip to the Margaret River region in 2016. Sure, their brews are tasty but it's the bushland setting and rustic cabin-type building that I love the most. Hiding between Dunsborough and Yallingup, this one has it all going on. Best bet to start with is the affordable flight of six beers that you can choose for yourself. #winning
Eagle Bay Brewing Co, Eagle Bay
Another favourite is the gaga-gorgeous Eagle Bay Brewing in you guessed it, Eagle Bay, just past Dunsborough. Picture this: it's a stinking hot summer day and the sky is as blue as a Smurf's butt. You've just spent the day at the wow-worthy Bunker Bay with friends and you're thirsty AF. "Let's stop in for a beer," some wise soul suggests. When you get to the famed brewery, it's busy but there's an available table (destiny) on the grassy deck overlooking rolling paddocks. Beers are ordered and life is ace. Try the Pale Ale, you can't go wrong with that one.
Home and host to the annual South West Mud Fest (much pleasure and pain every July), Bootleg is another Margaret River region brewery with epic landscapes. Kick back at one of the many barbecue tables scattered around the lush lawn overlooking a large pond. If you have little ones, bring them along, there's a great playground. I like their Speakeasy IPA, it's 5.5% ABV and packs a punch. But if you're after a session beer (or you're driving), try Tom's Amber Ale, it's malty, mild and only 3.5%.
Colonial Brewing Co, Margaret River
After living in the Margs area for 2.5 years, I finally made it to the brewery, although I've been drinking their beer for yonks. And the 45-minute road trip from Busselton was worth every kilometre. There was a group of six of us who met up for lunch. It's got a real warehouse kinda vibe to it with lots of indoor and outside eating space. The food was yummo, and well, the beer is one of my local favourites. When I'm taking it easy on the alcohol consumption, I go for the Small Ale or the Draught Kolsch Ale but mostly, I dig their IPA – it packs a punch with a 6.5% ABV. For some extra fun, grab a bucket of balls and try out your golf swing at the target pond.
Cowaramup Brewing Company, Cowaramup
I love a brewery that offers those little glasses of tasters (flights). It's a great way to sample the wares and decide which one to order a pint of. I went here for lunch a couple years back, again with a group. We did share plates and pizza, which is an awesome way to get to taste a few different dishes. We even brought the dog (he didn't get to drink or share lunch with us though).
The next five breweries are well known to me but I've yet to personally visit them. Of course, they are on my summer to-do list.
Black Brewing Co, Wilyabrup
Just take a look at Black Brewing's website. If that photo on the home page doesn't make you want to get in your car and head straight there, then I don't know what will. Oh, yes I do. It'll be because they brew Honest Ale, the beer by Yallingup local surfer dude, Taj Burrow and mates. Apparently, the secret ingredient is sea water. All that salt is making me even more thirsty. I see what they're doing and I love it.
Rocky Ridge Brewing Company, Jindong
When Rocky Ridge Brewing Company created a hemp ale called Dr Weedy's, it caused a bit of froth amongst craft beer lovers, potheads and the health-conscious (I know because I was one of the people in line to try it). The unique beer is made with Vasse Valley roasted hemp seeds, which are full of goodness: omega 3 fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, protein, and flavour. And in case you don't know, hemp is not marijuana, yet it does come from the same family. Drinking Dr Weedy's is not like smoking a joint. But, depending on your size, weight, and tolerance, you may get good and wasted; one 500ml can is equal to 2.9 standard drinks. The boutique bottle shop, Cape Cellars ( in Busselton & Dunsborough), sometimes stocks Dr Weedy's and many other beers brewed by Rocky Ridge. Cheers and beers to you.
They describe themselves as "misfits" who create beer with the best ingredients they can "muster" and well, it turns out pretty good for them. I really enjoy their American IPA and the India Pale Lager. You'll find these, and others, at switched-on pubs and booze shops around the traps. But these fellas host a lot of live entertainment so check their website for what's on and get your bum over there for some happy times and tasty eats too. I'm planning to do the same in the summer.
Cheeky Monkey Brewery, Wilyabrup
Yet another brewery I know by beer and adore is Cheeky Monkey. I've attended the internationally renowned Gourmet Escape in 2016 and 2017, and I loved going to the Beer Battle. It's always Cheeky Monkey's beer and representing brewmaster that I support. I'm a pale ale lover so it's always my first choice but keep watch for their limited editions too. Anything new is always worth a try. These guys are making a name for themselves beyond Margs as well. Next time you fly Singapore Airlines, keep watch for their range available on the in-flight menu. Of course, when in the neighbourhood, go on and visit the brewery. My mouth is watering looking at their online share plate menu. #hungry
Brewhouse Margaret River, Margaret River town
The Brewhouse opened in early 2016, and their brews have won a myriad of awards since. I've tasted their Red IPA at a beer battle once and I do recall it being a favourite (but who knows, I drank a helluva lot of samples). If you're staying in Margaret River town, you can walk to the Brewhouse for a meal and beer drinking, which is probably wise because once you start "sampling" it's hard to stop. Trust me on this.
There you have it. A local's guide to the 10 best breweries in the Margaret River region of Western Australia. Writing this piece has made me even more grateful for where I live and the brewmasters who do the hard work to craft and create fine brews for me to drink. Am I lucky or what?
Please drink responsibly and travel with a designated driver.