The Margaret River region has eight breweries that produce a variety of brews from traditional ales and German hefeweizens to ciders and ginger beers, as well as the delicious honey brew from Blackwood Meadery. Unfortunately, we only could visit four breweries, but we were thoroughly impressed with the craftiness of the beers and the unique atmosphere of each venue we visited.
The Grove Experience
We started the day at The Grove – a café, winery, distillery, brewery and liqueur factory! They started off making wines in 1995 but it wasn’t long before they branched out to include ports, spirit based liqueurs and the nano-brewery to offer a unique experience to visitors of the Margaret River region.
Because we got there just after 9am, we started with coffee and cake. We were super impressed with our layered latte, which reminded us of the coffee we got at Alexandrina Cheese Factory on the Fleurieu Peninsula. The microfoam was sweet and delicious – no sugar required – and the coffee was rich with a great, rounded flavour.
We got a slice of cake each –gluten free orange almond cake and chocolate beetroot cake. The orange almond café was moist, soft and gooey with a magnificent orange flavour and small fragments of nuts, orange peel. The chocolate beetroot cake was not as rich as expected; even the icing was manageable! It was soft and fluffy with little purple pieces of beetroot. It was a great combination of subtly sweet flavours.
Afterwards, we got on the grog and sampled their four beers.
- Boring Beer – 4.4% rich gold colour with fruity citrus and stone fruit aromas. It was easy to drink, no bitterness at all, with a gentle and mild flavour that was fresh and crisp.
- House Ale – 5.2% a red ale with a cloudy orange colour and peach smells. It was gently hoppy, crisp and refreshing and medium flavoured.
- Big House – 6.2% another cloudy orange beer with fine bubbles, bitterness and a mellow finish with lots of sweet fruity flavours.
- Gangster Stout – 4.9% cola coloured with hints of coffee and smoke, it was a full bodied beer that covered all of the mouth.
Cheeky Monkey Brewery & Cidery
This venue is very new, with the grand opening occurring on the 4th of May 2012. The owner, Murray Burton wanted to share his beers with the area and created the brewery brand based on his four cheeky monkeys, his three daughters and one son. At their current rate of production, the brewery produces about 40,000L per year and they make a variety of craft beers, such as pale ale, IPA and ginger beer.
- Travelling Monk – 3.5% a mid strength red ale that is fruity, smoky from the crystal malt, quite hoppy but light and refreshing.
- Hatseller – 4.8% a deep gold brew that was a creamy mouth-filler, herbaceous and citrusy with gentle hops and a good head.
- Old Reliable – 5.0% a classic pale ale made with crystal malt to give it a smoky flavour, but it was clean and fresh with honey and fruit flavours and a bit of hops at the end.
- Southern Wailer – 4.8% sweet taste with ginger on the nose, it was mild and a bit hoppy with gentle ginger flavours and no spice.
- Belgian IPA – 5.8% a red ale with honey and fruit but smoky and hoppy.
There is also Cheeky’s restaurant onsite that cooks up delicious tapas, burgers, pizzas. The atmosphere is totally chilled, plays great music, and the décor is a mixture of modern comfort and cosy homeliness. The gardens outside are the perfect place to enjoy a cold brew on a summers day.
Since opening in 1994, the Bootleg Brewery has been producing award winning beers, including the delicious ‘Best in Class’ Raging Bull Dark Ale and takes pride in being an ‘oasis of beer in a desert of wine’. The brewery has a great laidback atmosphere with heaps of seating outside in the beer garden. They also offer have a great menu that pairs the meals with their beers and includes burgers, fish and chips, ribs and roo fillets.
We ordered a tasting paddle and enjoyed it outside while we were entertained by a live guitar duo who did a great job at setting the mood and other patrons played a game of giant Jenga nearby.
- Sou’ West Wheat Beer – 4.7% a light golden brew that was light and crisp with low bitterness, gentle hops, a well rounded texture and slight sweetness.
- Hefe – 4.7% clear, golded German-style hefeweizen. ‘Hefe’ means yeast and ‘weizen’ means wheat. This unfiltered brew was fruity with banana and cloves, and is also known as a breakfast beer.
- Tom’s Amber Ale – 4.0% a deep caramel colour that was bitter with Ringwood hops, lightly carbonated and quite smoky.
- Wils Pils – 4.9% light and summery with fine bubbles and a clean sweet but dry finish.
- Settlers Pale Ale – 4.8% an American style ale that was full of passionfruit at first but finished with bitter grapefruit.
- Raging Bull – 7.1% a rich, dark coloured beer with intense malty flavours full of coffee, crystal and roasted malt. It was smooth and creamy but full flavoured and very potent!
Cowaramup Brewing Company
The staff are really friendly here and the atmosphere was upbeat with cool music and furry cow hide stools while the grey, concrete décor added a cool, modern element. They brew six handcrafted beers, including ales, lagers and their award winning pilsner.
- Pilsner – a clear golden colour with plenty of bitter hops and a refreshing fizz.
- Hefeweizen – a cloudy yellow Bavarian wheat beer that was slightly sweet with gentle hops and a fruity, banana flavour.
- Lightsign Summer Ale – clear and golden with a fruity, passionfruit flavour without any bitterness.
- Special Pale Ale – rich amber colour with a lightly smoky flavour from the Maris Otter barley and creamy, full bodied texture with plenty of English hops.
- IPA – deep copper with coffee and chocolate, it was very hoppy and quite strong.
- Porter – deep dark coffee colour with a robust, full flavoured and dark roasted punch.