Margaret River is one of the fastest growing microbrewery destinations in Australia.
By Fleur Bainger
You might think a bunch of breweries operating in a premium wine region such as Margaret River would be out of place. But for every wine lover there's an equally passionate craft beer fan, and in the Margaret River region, both preferences are covered. Explore the artisanal brews in town, on a farm and in an old dairy.
Set on a huge lawn easily accessible from Margaret River township's main street (at the far northern end), Brewhouse appeals on many levels. You'll find cold ales and lagers with entertaining names flowing through the taps, while its kitchen pumps out fresh and punchy local produce. Do an indoor beer tasting then sit outside for a long lunch – make sure you order the cuttlefish. Brewhouse is good for families, with a huge sandpit and a wooden boat for kids. The brewery is near the town's old settlement, also worth visiting.
The Beer Farm is housed in a rustic former dairy that's been modernised with splashes of street art. Enter via the old creamery, wander through what was once a milking parlour and taste at a wooden bar inside the old hay shed, now decorated with Persian rugs and chesterfield lounges. As you'd expect, a herd of grain-fed cattle is within view. The Australian bitter uses ingredients almost entirely sourced in Western Australia, while the cider is created from apples picked in the town of Manjimup, about a two-hour drive south of Margaret River.
An immense brewery off Caves Road, overlooking an expansive dam, Black Brewing Co brews a novel range. Sip the unusual Bao Bao, a milk stout with elements of coffee and chocolate. Return to bright, hoppy flavours when sampling the Rice Raaager lager, or stick to something more recognisable with the lightly malted Fresh Ale. Food has an Indonesian bent, designed to be shared and likely to be devoured to a soundtrack of pumping beats.
Family-run and set on a working farm, Eagle Bay Brewing Co is a slick microbrewery with a modern restaurant. It's located in one of the most rustic areas of the region, west of Dunsborough, with views to match. There's also a playground. The food is as polished as the carefully crafted liquid delights – grab a six-strong tasting paddle and a wood-fired pizza or a bowl of marinated octopus. Internationally experienced brewer Nick d'Espeissis always has a limited edition, experimental brew on tap (often only available at the brewery). His fruity Kolsch is particularly highly regarded. Oh, and for wine lovers, there’s also a small vineyard and wine range.
Set on a huge, grassy property to the north-east of the town of Margaret River, the ever-popular Colonial Brewing Co serves a crowd-friendly Indian Pale Ale, a Draught and regular Pale Ale, as well as a cold-press cider called Bertie. Things get more adventurous with the seasonal ales, which include a citrus-infused Witbier, a nutty Dark Pale and a bombastic Porter, made with fire-roasted malt and rack-dried hops. There's also a busy restaurant and a playground.
Follow Margaret River's ale trail with an expert guide who loves nothing more than showing visitors the best of the region's brew houses. On his Margaret River Brewery Tours, Julian Lelah talks you through six-beer tasting paddles at every stop, teaching you the importance of hops, malt, terroir and water purity. From 12pm to 6pm he visits breweries and cideries, and has a mid strength tour option for those who don’t want to overdo the alcohol consumption. Pick-ups and drop-offs are included.