A taste of WA’s best breweries
Western Australia has been synonymous with top-class wineries for years, but an explosion of microbreweries means the craft brewing market is flourishing.
The state is now a haven for dozens of boutique breweries stretching from Broome in the northwest to the gold mining town of Kalgoorlie and as far south as Denmark, with some of the most progressive, interesting and tasty ales on the market.
WA has been at the forefront of a beer revolution, says Ross Lewis, the Australian beer writer and judge who operates the website thesip.com.au.
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“It started in Australia in Fremantle when Matilda Bay set up the brewpub at the Sail and Anchor so I guess we’ve got a fondness for the operation.
“We’ve gone from two breweries here in the early 1980s to almost 50 scattered around the state.”
Perth Royal Beer Show associate judge Kate Ferguson says there are plenty of great breweries in WA that offer excellent ales and experiences, especially if you’re willing to get off the beaten track.
“Small breweries are as much about the beer as they are about the experience these days.
“You’re getting a taste of West Australian culture when you visit a WA brewery and so many offer really spectacular experiences because of their awesome locations.”
One of Ferguson’s favourites is Lucky Bay Brewing, a modest craft brewery in Esperance that has plugged into the town’s premium barley production for malt, when most of its grain is destined for export.
“Don’t be fooled by this humble shed in the back blocks of Esperance. This is the new home of exceptional beer in WA,” Ferguson says.
Best beer stops around Western Australia
Ross Lewis from thesip.com.au and Perth Royal Beer Show associate judge Kate Ferguson, offer up a top 10 when it comes to breweries to visit in WA.
1. Matso’s Brewery (Broome)
Located on the banks of Roebuck Bay in Old Broome, Matso’s is a tourist attraction in itself. The iconic pub is renowned for its mango and ginger beers, as well as their chilli beer, which packs a punch. (KF & RL)
2. Beaten Track Brewery (Kalgoorlie)
Curiously, this is the only working brewery in Kal- Boulder given the Goldfields region was home to plenty of breweries 120 years ago.
Lewis favours the Beaten Track’s Gibb River Rye.
3. Boston Brewing Co. (Denmark)
Operating out of the Willougby Park Estate, Boston Brewing Co. offers plenty of alternatives for the drinker, but the beers are the go-to choice. Lewis likes the Boston Rauchbier, a smokey gem that pairs well with bacon.
4. Bootleg Brewing (Margaret River)
One of the oldest brewpubs in WA, Bootleg recently celebrated its 22nd birthday with some new labelling.
Both Ferguson and Lewis give the thumbs up to Bootleg’s Raging Bull Porter while overlooking the brewery’s lawns and lake.
5. Feral Brewing Co. (Baskerville, Swan Valley)
For the past five years, Feral’s Hop Hog has been in the top three of the biggest people’s choice beer poll in the country and head brewer Brendan Varis was named the Head Judge of the Australian International Beer Awards in 2016 – the world’s largest annual beer competition.
Both Lewis and Ferguson have noted the Watermelon Warhead and for the extra adventurous, Ferguson recommends giving Will’s Tasting Paddle a try.
6. Little Creatures (Fremantle)
Lewis describes Little Creatures as “the grand daddy of brewpubs”.
This is not just a big brewery, but also a big function centre. Its location isn’t bad either – right on Fremantle waterfront – and the Pale Ale is still their most popular beer.
7. Northbridge Brewing Co (Northbridge)
Yes, you can produce beer in the middle of the city. NBC had to go up rather than out with its brewpub but the position overlooking the Northbridge Piazza makes it very popular with the suits in the CBD.
Ken Arrowsmith’s Kolsch is made just inches away from the bar. (RL)
8. White Lakes Brewing (Baldivis)
A newcomer who has arrived in a big way, White Lakes is located in an old English style pub, the Vernon Arms. Former Perth Royal Beer Show Chief Judge and brewing powerhouse Sean Symons has returned home from SouthEast Asia and set up a small batch brewery.
White Lakes not only produces beer for 12 venues across the state it also has a super food offering in a quiet location not far from the start of the Peel wine trail. (KF & RL)
9. Last Drop (Canning Vale)
If you’re looking for Bavarian beer with a Czech twist, then the Last Drop is a unique and worthy experience.
Head brewer Jan Bruckner, who was trained in Czechoslavkia, is a well-respected name in the brewing business and brews a delicious selection of premium grade German draft beers, created according to German law; “Reinheits Gebot”.
They only use the finest yeast imported from Weihen Stephen University Yeast Bank in Bavaria. (KF)
10. Brewhouse (Margaret River)
Conveniently located in Margaret River and a short ride from a renowned mountain bike trail is a relatively new kid on the block kicking goals in both quality beer and food. (KF)