Over 40 craft breweries in WA, what are you waiting for?
Western Australia's Craft Beers
Western Australia is the home of the craft beer revolution in Australia. After starting out with microbreweries such as Bootleg, Little Creatures and Matilda Bay WA is now home to 41 different microbreweries and brewpubs. After a two year mission I've managed to taste 74 different brews from 31 breweries, in an attempt to raise awareness of our fantastic, often forgotten local brews.
So, without further rambling on, I give to you the most comprehensive guide to West Australian breweries and their beers to date! (it's about time some one did it, right?)
You can check out the related links below for full reviews of some of the venues outlined here or go to the websites provided.
The South West South West - Busselton to Margaret River
The Old warhorses The first breweries to penetrate WA's winery stronghold.
Bootleg Brewery(Facebook) Bootleg brewery is the original self proclaimed "Oasis of Beer in a Desert of Wine". Now just two years short of its 20th year of operations, Bootleg's simple, casual outback style shack setting is host to some of the best food down south, decent beers, and Raging Bull - a unique 7.1% porter that has received 11 national and international awards since 1997! Bootleg beer is also available at International Beer Shop
Bush Shack Brewery(Formerly Wicked Ale Brewery) Another old school shack style venue, this time situated in the middle of Yallingup forest land. Bush Shack has been operating since the late 90's and is home to some of the most creative beers in Australia including Spelt Wheat, Strawberry Blonde and a lemon & honey lager. Colonial Brewery(Facebook) Colonial ushered in a new era for country breweries. Conceived in 2004, Colonial's contemporary design brought craft beer into the 21st century. Now the producer of arguably the best Kolsch in Australia, Colonial also sells its beers on tap and in growlers at the Royal in East Perth.
Strengthening the field
More depth, more awareness. Craft beer becomes an obsession.
Occy's Brewery Occy's was a return to old values. The small and simple Busselton shed has a very blokey feel to it. The beers are the same too. No fancy names, just beer brewed for blokes, in a shed. Duckstein Brewery(Facebook) Duckstein's successful move down south created an architectural masterpiece. The brewery is one of the best buildings in WA. The German influenced venue offers Altbiers, Hefeweiss, Dunkels... as well as proper traditional German food.
Cowaramup is a bit of trek from everywhere else, but there is nowhere more serene to sit back and have a pint. The quiet brewery sits overlooking sweeping fields of farmland and country forestry. Pair that with good beer and that's your day planned. Eagle Bay Brewery(Facebook)
Eagle Bays views are unmatched, it's perched on a hill overlooking the beautiful green rolling hills of the South West. Their food is the best on offer, and the beers have recently been spotted around Perth in places such as Clancys and Sail & Anchor.
New to the scene
Fresh blood, signs of a healthy industry.
Cheeky Monkey Brewery and Cidery(Facebook)
Cheeky Monkey is the latest addition to Caves Road. The modern yet simple venue is home to well priced, good pub meals and their first batch of beers and ciders has been very well received by its visitors.
Margaret River Ale Company(Formerly Bug Ocean and Ocean Beach Brewery)
I haven't tried their beer yet, and you can't actually go into the brewery, but the fact that Settlers Tavern - one of the most highly regarded beer venues in Australia - has agreed to sell their beer on tap speaks very highly indeed.
The Grove Brewery
Again, another one I have only recently discovered and am yet to sample their brews. But there just seems to be something about Wineries being able to produce good beers - I have high hopes for this place.
Perth and Surrounds Perth and surrounds - The Valley, Fremantle and the North
The Big Names
The breweries that started it all
Matilda Bay Brewery
Although it has sold out to Lion and jumped ship to Melbourne, Matilda Bay brewery played a huge role in bringing craft beer to the masses. Today it is one of the biggest names with a portfolio featuring favourites such as Fat Yak, Beez Neez and Redback.
Gage Roads Brewery
The Woolworths owned contract brewery - named after the shipping lane to Freo - is another one responsible for publicizing craft beer. Gage Roads is synonymous with bold flavoured beers like Wahoo Kolsch, Sleeping Giant IPA and Atomic Pale Ale Little Creatures Brewery(Facebook)
Many will argue that Little Creatures sold its soul after being taken over by Lion. No one can argue the huge impact they've had on making craft beer accessible to everyone though. Little Creatures was the first widely available, consistently high performing craft brewery in WA
The Swan Valley
Perth's answer to the East Coast craft boom.
A brewery that needs no introduction. Their Hop Hog brew is the most decorated beer of the last few years. It's not the only good beer they do though. Feral Brewers seem hell-bent on pushing the laws of brewing, coming up with some fantastic, highly interesting concoctions; everything from citrusy lagers to Belgian sours. The food is great too, and it's all served in a traditional outback pub setting.
Mash is modern, Aussie and successful. Their beers are all brewed for our climate, meaning they're all very refreshing. That doesn't mean they've skipped on taste either! The food is fantastic - best buffalo wings I've found to date, and they have a cool tree outside. Duckstein Brewery(Facebook)
The original Duckstein may not have the same glamour as its south west counterpart, but it is much more conveniently placed and comes with all the same great German food and drink Ironbark Brewery
Ironbark is a strange one. The rustic venue has a huge range of very interesting beers. Most of them are good too, although everyone has their own tastes (and there are some truly different beers). The venue has a real old western feel about it too.
Elmar's in the Valley(Facebook)
Buoyed by the huge success of their authentic German meats, Elmar's decided to open up a brewery to pair them with. The showpieces here are the 1L traditional style steins, which you can take home for a little extra (as seen on the cover page). Local Favourites
Breweries penetrate Perth's suburbs.
The Old Brewery(Facebook)
From the ashes of Perth's Swan Brewery the 'Old' was created. Nestled between River and Kings Park, Perth's oldest brewery now serves up some of the best meat dishes in town, all with the best beer that's ever been through those Swan taps. Blacksalt Brewery(Facebook)
Blacksalt Brewery is literally right on Port Beach, North Fremantle. It's half restaurant, half cafe, with a brewing facility sitting between the two sides. You can easily spend a day here watching time crawl by. The Monk(Facebook)
The Monk in Fremantle is the epitome of elegance in brewing. Their bold styles of beer can be expertly matched with the gourmet food menu on offer by their highly trained beer geek staff.
Indian Ocean Brewing Co.(Facebook)
The Indi is cheap, that's hard to come by these days. They don't skimp on quality or size either which is great. Food and beer are both well worth the trek to the Mindarie Marina. If you aren't keen to go that far, the Claremont Hotel also has Indi beer on tap. Nail Brewing(Facebook)
Nail beer is a huge success story. After sweeping the world off its feet with Nail Ale and Clout Stout in 2000 the head brewer was assaulted and left with nothing besides his brewing knowledge. In 2012 - after brewing out of ECU for a while - he has finally managed to get his own brewery back up and running with the support of Feral Brewery. And the beer is just as good as it was all those years a go. Nail also holds the record for the most expensive bottle of beer ever made. Nail beer is available through various bottle shops and tap venues throughout WA and Australia. Last Drop Brewery(Facebook)
The Elizabethan Village's resident brewery is a quiet, laid back place, built to fit the theme. The no-frills food is fantastic, and the beer is what nature and tradition intended it to be. The Brewpubs
Pubs start to cash in on craft success
Midlands upmarket brewpub is home to great food, casual settings and quality beer. Brewpubs often skip quality due to its high cost, the Principal has chosen to stick by its... err... principles.
Sail & Anchor Tavern(Facebook)
Although owned by the devil (Woolworths) Sail & Anchor is beer lovers' nirvana in Perth. It's pretty much the only destination where you'll find a huge range of local and international craft beers on tap. It is a shame then that their own beers have become generic and bland. The Generous Squire(Facebook)
You can probably guess who owns the 'Squire'. Especially when the only thing they have on tap is its namesake's beer. They do brew one of their own though - Shafto's Reward, and it is a very good, refreshing brew too. The Brass Monkey Hotel(Facebook)
Those old school, double storey, corner pubs are quite a sight aren't they? The Brass is no different. It's full of great beers too, but decided they'd have a go themselves. They have brewed a rich stout which has gained praise and tap time at none other that the Sail & Anchor.
The Great South The Great South - Albany and surrounds
Some of the southernmost craft beer in the world.
After closing down in 2010 the Pemberton Brewhaus opened again soon after, and is now known for its consistency and quality. Couple that with decent prices and nice views, and JJ's is now a very nice, lazy weekend venue.
Blackwood Valley Brewery & Cidery(Facebook)
The Cidery has a good reputation for great service. It's also the only place in WA that puts Cider first. With eight different varieties even the staunch beer drinkers may find something they enjoy. If not, they have some homemade award winning beers and wines available too! The Cidery cider is also available at International Beer Shop in West Leederville Tanglehead Brewery(Facebook)
Like Jarrah Jack's, Tanglehead (part of the White Star Hotel) in Albany was very hit-and-miss a few years a go. And like Jarrah Jack's, it has undergone significant improvements recently. The beer is more consistent and the food is much more edible. On its night the place can get quite loud too!
Boston is part of the serene Willoughby Park Winery... even the name sounds breathtaking right? Boston started up in 2010, and brews proper, full flavoured beers... all done by a girl. You can get their beers in refillable Growlers too (you can get Growlers from Eagle Bay Brewery, Boston Brewery, Colonial Brewery or The Royal in Perth)
The Rest. The Rest - Those that don't quite fit an area
Old Coast Road
The idyllic coast road becomes the pathway to craft beer. Old Coast Road Brewery(Facebook)
Blink and you'll miss it. OCRB's big highway sign directs you to the rather isolated establishment on the outskirts of Myalup. This means that everything is quiet, it's a very idyllic farmyard location. It's also the only place where you can get a self pour tap system for your table. Pretty cool! Mash Brewery (Rockingham, Bunbury)
Buoyed by the success of their Swan Valley establishment. Mash opened up two new locations on the southern corridor. Same great beer, same great food.
Brew 42 moved from Collie to Lake Clifton not too long a go. The new facility is a nice brick cottage style structure nestled in the forest just North of Bunbury. You can even stay the night in their on site accomodation. Cape Bouvard Brewery(Facebook)
Cape Bouvard is in my mind the most serene, peaceful place in the area. It's old school picnic table and alfresco set up is a great place to just sit in the tranquility of the Lake Clifton forest.
New Frontiers for Craft Beers
Claiming new territory for the craft beer juggernaut.
The most isolated brewery in Australia, and one of the most awarded. Their highly regarded Mango, Chilli and Ginger beers have recently been joined by a Pale Ale, which in one year already has a host of awards. The food is great too, the feature here being a world famous curry hut. And let's not forget that friendly, relaxed Broome hospitality. Matso's is also becoming increasingly available Australia-wide on tap and in bottles.
Beaten Track Brewery(Facebook)
I haven't actually been here yet, but you can guess what kind of audience the Kalgoorlie brewhaus will be supplying. Expect an old school Aussie bloke atmosphere, with old school Aussie bloke drinks. Wild Bull Brewery(Facebook)
Again, I haven't been here, but have heard good feedback about its relaxed, child-friendly set up. I have tried the beers which are quite tasty. They're full bodied and packed full of flavour, I can highly recommend the Irish Ales, the best of their kind in Australia