People have long been drawn to Margaret River for its fine wineries but the region is also home to a number of great boutique breweries.
Bootleg Brewery couldn’t sum it up better when they say it’s “an oasis of beer in a desert of wine”. Established in 1994, Bootleg produces a wide range of multi award winning, naturally brewed boutique beers and has become one of the most popular tourist destinations in the South West. Bootleg has a beer for all tastes from the popular Wills Pils, which was judged best Australasian draught lager at the 2003 International Beer Awards, to the full-bodied, extra full-strength (it’s 7.1% alc/vol) gold medal-winning Raging Bull. They also produce a light beer, Amber Light, an English-style bitter for those who want to take things a little easier, and in 2003 released their newest brew, Settlers Pale Ale.
Bootleg is also well known for its delicious lunches, picturesque setting and live entertainment on weekends. The restaurant is open seven days a week from 12pm to 3pm and reservations are highly recommended on weekends and holidays.
After sampling the amber fluid and enjoying a casual lunch you can stretch your legs in the on-site gallery, which displays artwork from local artists. From the gallery you can also view the brewery where all Bootleg’s beer is brewed and packaged. Bootleg Brewery is open seven days a week from 10am to 4.30pm.
Wicked Ale Brewery offers a range of different flavoured beers including Mamas Ginger Beer and Passionfruit Beer, and at 4.5% alc/vol you can rest assured they’re certainly not soft drinks as the names might imply. For the more traditional beer connoisseur, Yallingup Old, a dark ale, and Wheat Beer, a smooth full-bodied beer with a creamy “wheaty” finish, may be more to your liking.
Lunch and snacks are available at Wicked Ale from 11am to 4pm, or you can make use of one of the on-site barbeques and cook your own. Wicked Ale Brewery is located in Yallingup and is open Sunday to Thursday from 10am to 5pm, and Friday and Saturdays from 10am to 6pm.
Closer to Margaret River you’ll find the Bug Ocean Brewing Company and the Colonial Brewing Company. Amanda and Scott Morgan started their Bug Ocean Brewing Company with absolutely no beer brewing experience, but are now producing award winning ales and lagers. Altbier (“Alt”, meaning old) is Bug Ocean’s flagship brew and won a gold medal at the Australian International Beer Awards, 2004. It combines German malts and imported hops to produce a light to medium-bodied copper-coloured beer. Hefeweizen, a wheat beer, was a silver medal winner at the same awards. It has a pale golden colour, is medium-bodied and is highly effervescent. Bug Ocean’s most recent release, Kolsch, has the characteristics of a light lager but with a hint of fruitiness. Bug Ocean proudly proclaims it a “subtle, yet beautifully balanced beer that will appeal to a great range of beer connoisseurs”.
All Bug Ocean beers are full strength and will soon be available in bottles. Located on Minchin Way in Margaret River, Bug Ocean offer free tastings on-site, otherwise you’ll find the beers on-tap locally at the Margaret River Hotel and Settlers Tavern and at a selection of Perth pubs.
The Colonial Brewing Company is situated on Osmington Road, 9kms from Margaret River. It offers a range of beers from the aptly named 7.7 alc/vol Dr Quick Strong Ale to the light, crisp Spruiker’s Challenge German Kolsch Ale. Add to that a selection of seasonal ales, and beer lovers are spoilt for choice.
At Colonial you have the option of stretching out on the lawns and cooking your own barbeque or dining in the restaurant. A brewery tour is available twice daily at 11am and 3pm, and no visit to the Colonial Brewing Company would be complete without seeing the team of mighty Clydesdale draft horses. If you’re planning on making a day of it, you might like to take the free bus that runs every half hour between 10am and 6pm from the Margaret River Tourist Bureau.
– Jamie Moses
Hot off the press:
Construction is under way on a new brewery in the area. The Cowaramup Brewing Company is expected to open in August 2006 and will produce premium quality ales and lagers in a relaxed environment. Located on North Treeton Road, it will include a microbrewery with a state-of-the-art brewing system, a tasting area, cafe and landscaped licensed lawn area.
Bootleg Brewery, Corner Johnson & Puzey Roads, Willyabrup, Margaret River, (08) 9755 6300.
Wicked Ale Brewery, Hemsley Road, Yallingup, (08) 9755 2848.
Bug Ocean Brewing Company, Minchin Way, Margaret River, (08) 9758 7277.
Colonial Brewing Company, 265A Osmington Road, Margaret River, (08) 9757 2781.
Cowaramup Brewing Company, North Treeton Road, Cowaramup.