What’s brewing down south? Plenty, it seems. The range of hopped up suds and strong spirits has grown, giving plenty of reason skip the winery and shake things up next time a weekend escape is within reach.
With breweries and distilleries popping up everywhere, the toughest thing you'll need to do is whittle this list down to fit the one trip.
Here are all the breweries and distilleries you should have been to down south.
Our favourite thing about the Beer Farm is undoubtedly Dash the greyhound and the fact that it's dog-friendly. But don't worry, if you're not a dog person, there's still plenty to love about this place. The space used to be a dairy farm and the main bar is in the old hay shed, complete with a long jarrah bar, a Ghostbusters pinball machine and windowed roller doors opening up to the paddock. The beer list is sectioned into ‘Session’ and ‘Specialty’ and ingredients are as local as they can get—the Australian Bitter uses nearly 95% WA ingredients, and the western cider is made with Manjimup apples. When it comes to food, the juicy burgers and the crunchy hop-brined chicken wings are our picks.
Brewhouse Margaret River
Close to town, Brewhouse is a laidback brewery with live music, a beautiful outdoor seating area and a toasty fireplace for when it gets chilly. The 1940’s cottage has been transformed and the open kitchen serves up good local produce, including a mean lamb shoulder and some moreish pizzas. The beer list covers all the lager and pilsner lovers, but the hop-heavy brews are what shine. The northwest US-inspired Red Tail IPA is an especially tasty concoction of four hops. The brewery also celebrates other brewers—earlier this year they had hopeful homebrewers compete to craft the next best brew in the ‘Backyard Brewing Tournament Awards’ with the winner’s creation brewed by the pros and put on tap.
Almost two dozen years in the heart of Margaret River, Bootleg Brewery was one of the first spots for beer-drinkers in a region surrounded by wineries. There’s a great collection of memorabilia collected over the years and there’s a good selection of drinks—from the pilsner to the summer ale. When the sun’s out, having a beer paddle and fresh chunky chips by the pond with some live acoustic in the background makes for one heck of an afternoon. The Raging Bull, a dark ale with a deliciously strong kick of malt (and alcohol content) is one not to miss if you're looking for something interesting.
Cheeky Monkey Brewery
There’s a jetty by the lake outside so you can sit and enjoy the sun, or head to the raised deck overlooking the vines of the attached vineyard. Cheeky Monkey's beers on tap have people frothing as of late, with the Australian Lager winning this year’s best lager draught by the Perth Royal Beer Show and their West Coast IPA scooping up a gold medal too. Grab a tasting paddle and you’ll get to taste the two ciders the brewery makes as well. Makes sure to grab some to take home—all the cans have gotten a cool makeover.
Black Brewing Co
Margaret River’s Duckstein Brewery is no more—the German-built brewery along Caves Road has new owners who have opened Black Brewing Co which is part-brewery, part-distillery and part-winery. The food menu has a strong Indonesian influence but keeps local with its produce. It's all made to be shared and it's far more delicious than you'd expect, plus the servings are huge. Most of the beers are session-style, sitting around the 4.5% alcohol content, and lighter in intensity, though there’s also a nice, chocolatey stout as well. Do yourself a favour a pick up a six pack of their newest brew, Honest Ale, made in conjunction with Taj Burrow, Jay Davies and Dino Adrian. For spirits, there’s an in-house, copper-stilled gin that is one of the best we've tasted in a while and they also do wine.
Eagle Bay Brewing
Eagle Bay Brewing is a stunning microbrewery run by three siblings who’ve taken the family property to make quality, preservative-free beers. Sit outside and bask in the view of the green grounds until the late afternoon while digging into modern Aussie lunch, with wood-fired pizzas, sharing plates and seafood mains. If you want to wander around, the kitchen has its own garden of herbs and veggies you can take a peek at as well. While Eagle Bay also has its own Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Semillon vines, it’s not big enough to warrant its own winery. Not to fret though, the restaurant and the brewery’s provisions store sells bottles, as well as growlers if you want to take some of the beer home fresh.
Colonial Brewing opened a second brewery over east in 2015, but WA has been home since 2004. Big shed on the outside, modern architecture on the inside, there’s a big grassy lawn and kids playground when the sun shines and it’s dog-friendly too! The handful of pizzas and mains will fill the gullet while trying some of the core and seasonal brews—this year’s Rye ‘N Gose Sling beer was a team up with another one of our down south faves, West Winds Gin. The takeaway tinnies are worth a purchase too for the new can design with the 360-degree lip, letting you get the aroma of hops and malt when you take a sip.
Bush Shack Brewery
Not afraid to try something different out, Bush Shack Brewery has made everything from chilli beer to alcoholic red creaming soda. They even made avocado ale a couple of years ago. The brewery itself is like a hidden haven, with a playground, BBQ facilities, a brewery shack and a field where you might be able to spot some kangaroos. Inside feels like a mate’s backyard shed, with a bar, paraphernalia along the walls and an iconic red circular pool table. These guys have been around for decades and are definitely worth a visit.
Margaret River Distilling Company
The sister distillery to Limeburners Single Malt Whisky of Great Southern Distilling Company, the Margaret River Distilling Company is all about gin. Out of the three gins on offer, the Botanical gin is an incredibly flavourful drop, with hints of lemon myrtle and eucalyptus. Sign up for the Giniversity masterclass, where you’ll get to learn how gin is made and conjure up a recipe of botanicals to whip up your very own gin. There are smaller tanks so visitors can infuse the botanicals into the alcohol and have a half-litre bottle to take home.
There are equal parts passion and fun behind The Grove in Wilyabrup and you’ll undoubtedly have a good time tasting the range of liqueurs here. A lot of the liqueurs are sweet—from White Chocolate to Limecello—but don’t be discouraged if that’s not your thing. There’s gin, absinthe, and rum, as well as single malt whiskies. The corn mash maple whisky is fairly sweet and not too harsh taken straight. There’s an eatery serving up pizzas too to help break up the handful of different spirits you’ve had a taste of.
Rocky Ridge Brewing
A little further north near Busselton, Rocky Ridge Brewing founder Hamish Coates has been going all out growing his own hops and barley on the family farm. The brewery's motto is ‘everything we brew, we grow’ which is a mammoth task to take on. The brewery is still working on a cellar door for the future, but for now, you’ll have to keep your eyes peeled for the travelling tap house and bar visits – Baby Mammoth just had a ‘beergustation’ in July this year.
Not going down south? Here are all the breweries you need to visit in WA.
Image credit: Black Brewing Co