Margaret River Breweries
While Margaret River is home to some of the Western Australia’s most famous vineyards, we are also home to a small, but growing, colony of outstanding Margaret River breweries, cideries, and distilleries. Our beer industry is young, unique, and locally owned and operated. Besides being able to enhance the dining and drinking pleasure for the local residents, our breweries have quickly become a main feature for tourists and vacationers. Our beer and cider establishments are open to the public on a daily basis, and can be accessed by private vehicles or as part of a guided tour.
Seasoned beer connoisseurs may know which variety of beer sits best on their tongues, but they are in for a surprise when sampling the innovative tweaks on basic favorites that our breweries offer. For those who are occasional beer drinkers and for those who want to sample some local spins on favourite classic varieties, we offer the following beer tips and terms before you dash out to grab that pint, enjoy a paddle of brews, or purchase a takeaway six pack.
The History of Beer
Beer, the third most consumed beverage on Earth, has been around for over 5000 years (the first two are water and tea). One ancient Celtic axiom says, “Good people drink good beer.” Some people believe that the invention of the wheel was the start of mankind’s civilization. But, in today’s civilisation, beer, and not the wheel, goes better with pizza.
The popularity of beer has been cited by some very notable individuals. The patron saint of brewers, Saint Arnold of Metz, said, “From man’s sweat and God’s love, beer came into the world.” The Greek philosopher, Plato, said, “He was a wise man who invented beer.” But, the best quote that exemplifies the enjoyment of beer in the Margaret River region is from the Canadian essayist, Hugh Hood, who stated, “Nothing ever tasted better than a cold beer on a beautiful afternoon with nothing to look forward to than more of the same.”
- There are only two types of beer: Ale and Lager. All the other “types” are variations, or subsets, of the Ales and Lager. Ales use a top-fermenting yeast process and Lagers use a bottom-fermenting yeast process. Simple as it sounds, that is the distinction between the two types.
- Ales and Lagers are available in alcohol and non-alcohol styles. This can be a bonus for those who want the taste of beer without actually drinking alcohol. The non-alcohol version might be the best solution for the designated driver as Margaret River breweries, cideries and distilleries can be quite spread out geographically.
- The majority of beer bottles is dark brown in colour. The reason for the dark glass colour was because the lighter coloured glass would let light filter in, and that would quickly spoil the liquid. This was especially true when there was long travelling time between the time the beer was brewed in one country and then shipped for consumption in another country. Today’s technology enables breweries to use other coloured glass for beer bottles in a manner so that the liquid does not lose any flavour or go flat for long periods of time.
- The reason that beer bottles have long necks is so that when the pressure of the CO2 (Carbon Dioxide) content expands, the bottle will not explode. On a lighter side, the long neck offers a great handle for holding a cold, wet bottle without the risk of having it slip out of your hand.
- Ciders differ from beers, mostly in how they are fermented. Beer is made from fermented grains with added hops, while cider is fermented in its own apple juices without the addition of any hops. Cider varieties are either sweet or dry, but definitely sweeter than beers. Cider is also available in either alcoholic or non-alcoholic versions.
- Lager beer refers to a Pilsner, Dopplebock, Bock, and Kolsch. Lager tends to have more bitter content and flavour than Ales, they are refreshing and crisp in texture while being strong in flavour. Lagers are most flavourful when served at cool temperatures, but the warmer the temperature, the more the flavour fades.
- Ale Beer refers to Porter, Stout, and any label with the word Ale such as Pale Ale, Amber Ale, IPA (India Pale Ale), Brown Ale, and Saison. They are most flavourful when served at colder temperatures. Porters and Stouts are the darkest coloured beers, they have a creamy texture, and they often taste like coffee or bittersweet chocolate. IPAs are considered craft beers, they are caramel coloured, and they have a citrus or bitter taste with a hoppy aroma. Pale Ales are golden in colour, they are less hoppy than IPAs, and they offer a mild smooth taste. Brown Ales are amber in colour, they are milder than Porters and Stouts, and often have the taste of chocolate or caramel.
- The term Imperial means that the beer has lots of alcohol and has a thick, heavy flavour.
- Session beer contains less alcohol and has a smooth, light taste.
- Malt beers are so named because of the grain sugars that are “malted” into alcohol. The range of flavours span from the tartier taste of biscuits or crackers to the smoother tastes of chocolate, caramel, and toffee.
- There are more than 50 varieties of hops and that means that Margaret River breweries have a wide selection range to choose from when creating craft beers. The type of hops and the amount of hops in beers determines whether they have a citrus, tropical, spicy, or bitter flavour, and they can taste juicy, lush, or flowery.
- Bao Bao Milk Stout, as the name implies, has a measured amount of lactose added to the beer for a delicious, creamy flavour that sits well on the tongue.
The above tips and terms are just a mini lesson meant to assist you when determining which brew style best suits your unique taste buds. But, the joy of going to a Margaret River brewery is in the adventure of sampling new flavours (like those below). And, as with all beverages, the best beer flavour for you is what you personally like. It is also worth noting that in addition to visiting our local Margaret River breweries, a number of local merchants, pubs, and eateries also serve a selection of beers from these same breweries.
Featured Breweries in Margaret River
Whether you are a local resident or a visitor to the area, we recommend a visit to the following breweries while you are out and about. For more information about these individual breweries, click on the links below. There you can find contact information, operating hours, tasting events, dining facilities, touring opportunities, special events, and upcoming entertainment performances.
1.) Black Brewing Company
In the few short years since the Black Brewing Company opened, it has quickly become a much-go-to restaurant and brewery. The two owners and operators, Stewart Sampson and Scott Douglas, were friends for a long time before venturing into business together. Their talents, creativity, and passion for craft beers are so in sync with each other that it was practically preordained that their business would be a great success.
2.) Colonial Brewing Company
At the time that Ross Smith opened the doors of the Colonial Brewing Company in 2004, there were only three breweries in the Margaret River area. Since that time the market has expanded, but the Colonial Brewing Company remains one of the region’s most popular locations. Today, the brewery is owned by the Colonial Leisure Group and they maintain the establishment’s outstanding production of award winning, handcrafted beers that are the favorites of both locals and tourists.
3.) Margaret River Distilling Company
Margaret River Distilling Company may be one of the youngest distilleries and dining establishments in the Margaret River area, having opened its doors in November 2015, but it has created a marvelous educational Gin appreciation class, called Giniversity. It was also awarded Australia’s Champion Whisky for 2016 and the World’s Best Craft Whisky for 2017.