Margaret River is home to more microbreweries than any other region of Australia. Among them is a handful that boast mightily impressive homes, such as Colonial Brewing: a sleek, contemporary affair sat amid 70 acres of sprawling farmland. Founded in 2004, it combines a family-friendly brasserie & brewery focused on creating “beers with integrity”, a large kids' play area and a wide lawn that regularly hosts live music, DJs and mini-festivals.
Heading up the brewing side of the business is a man with a CV in beer that’s taken him the length of the west coast. Mal Secourable was the founding brewer at Matso’s in Broome and enjoyed a stint at Freo’s Sail & Anchor. A traditionalist who favours Germanic beers, he’s developed a core range of finely tuned beers, mostly inspired by the classic styles of Europe and occasionally embellished by the odd hoppy US style or off-kilter limited release.
Colonial was among the first in Australia to bring in takeaway growlers, which you’ll find on offer at many of the group’s venues around Australia too. In fact, the attention to detail is apparent in the presentation of their beers however you want to enjoy them. They have their own unique glassware for every size and pour – even the tasting glasses for their sampling paddles bear the names and descriptions of what you’re drinking.
You’ll find Mal’s beers pouring at the group’s venues around WA and Victoria too, venues as varied as Melbourne’s Lucky Coq, Botanical, Robert Burns Hotel and Brighton’s Half Moon.
For those that won’t be tempted by the beers, there’s a selection of wines from the region while, if you’re after a feed, you’ll find a fresh and simple menu done well (especially the pizzas…). In a drive to reduce food miles, they’ve developed a half acre kitchen garden and orchard too. It’s an approach in keeping with the overall aim at Colonial’s home base: to create an authentic, unpretentious and convivial atmosphere in which their beers can be enjoyed by families, tourists, beer lovers and beer novices alike.
Colonial Brewery Beers
Colonial’s most approachable beer takes its inspiration from the style originating in Köln, the kolsch that is popular with craft breweries across WA. This is as good as they get: tight and clean as a beer with nowhere to hide your faults should be, with a lightly fruity hop character, delicate malt flavours and plenty of “sessionability” for hot summer days in Margaret River.
Colonial Pale Ale
Given the proliferation of Little Creatures inspired American pale ales at WA breweries, this one comes as something of a surprise. It’s based, as many of the brewery’s beers are, on a traditional German ale – the altbier. So forget thoughts of punchy hops and big bitterness, because this is all about the multi-layered malt character: nutty and biscuity, backed up by earthy, peppery hops.
Another beer ideal for wiling away a hot afternoon in Margaret River, this is a Belgian style witbier brewed with citrus peel and toasted coriander seeds. The result is a refreshing blend of light citrus fruitiness and aromatic spices, with a dryness to finish that makes it easier to head back for one more.
Colonial Brewing Project 3: Mission Brown
It seems that the deeper you delve into the minds of the brewers at Margaret River’s Colonial Brewery, the murkier things get. There’s an obsession with “Gary”, something we don’t fully understand but with which we totally empathise given there’s something of a “Gary” obsession here too. Something we do understand is that there’s a new series of limited releases coming out under the Project Beer banner – we know this as we ran a story on it. Yet we’re still not totally sure what beer three of the Project is all about.
Like an in-joke that’s smashed through the security gates, leapt over the barbed wire-topped wall and made a break for civilisation, it’s called Mission Brown, which suggests it’s a brown ale. It also features “The Stiv” – seemingly a water bound amalgam of The Lady in the Lake and the mystery man from that driving show that is mysteriously the most watched show on the planet. And it is also the “Son of Gary”, presumably Gary the White, the white stout they brewed for this year’s Gabs.
Other information includes: “Project 3 is coloured a hue that sits between Sunset Latte and Granddad’s going out pants (the corduroy ones). As with all Project Beer this is about enjoyment of the beer and less about the style (like Granddad’s cords).” So there you go.
The Royal on the Waterfront
Print Hall, Perth
Half Moon, Brighton
Robbie Burns, Collingwood
The Botanical, South Yarra
Style: Brown Ale
Colonial Gary The White
It’s fair to say that Team America is a pretty popular film at Crafty Towers. The Pint family calls each other Gary in honour of the film’s hero, Mrs Pint bought the soundtrack and discovered with glee that there are extra verses to many of the film’s songs and, almost a decade on from its release, it’s quite terrifying how much of the phraseology around the house can be traced back to the film too. So any beer that also takes its name from Mr Johnston and lifts quotes from the film in its tasting notes is alright by us. Better still, it’s a white stout, a style pilloried in the recent Sh!t Beer Geeks Say! video.
Brewed by the Margaret River brewery for the recent GABS festival, it actually makes a serious nod to the past when stout just meant a beer was full-bodied, complex and strong. This one is a blend of seven pale malts with some supporting English hopping. According to head brewer Justin Fox: “We also got our friends at Small Print, a coffee roaster in the city, to do us a super light roast that we ground and then cold dripped the beer through in a sort of circulation loop.” The beer was finished with Nitrogen and weighs in at seven per cent ABV.
Apparently they listened to Barry White all day on brew day too. Derka Derka Derka.
Style: White Stout
Colonial Brewing Dampfbier
They love their German beers at Colonial, in particular rare or forgotten styles. For this, their latest foray into that nation’s beer history, they’ve headed to the forests of Bavaria and seem to have been inspired to even greater levels. The beer’s release comes with a colourful tale about the origins of the beer that includes references to “flickers of sunlight flowing down”, “strong, noble common folk” and “little bundles of yeasty joy”. Essentially, it seems that the original beer was one borne of necessity, created by poor dwellers of the Bavarian Forest, comprising local barley (as they needed to use wheat for bread), locally grown hops (as they couldn’t afford those from the nearby Hallertau region), surplus yeast scrounged from the nearest weissbier brewery, all thrown together in a brew over which they had no temperature control. According to Colonial, the beer disappeared into the history books by the early 20th century and now is back as the last of their journeys into Germany’s brewing past. It is also the first seasonal beer designed and brewed by Sorcha Gillen, who works alongside head brewer Mal Secourable. And what is it exactly? A “German Steam Ale” apparently – or a hefeweizen using barley instead of wheat.
The Royal East Perth
Mal Secourable, head brewer at Margaret River’s Colonial Brewing Company, loves to brew German-inspired styles. It seems that he loves brewing them so much that it’s impossible for us to get him to take the time out to tell us about any specials he’s brewed. Thankfully, with Girl+Beer now calling the region her home, we have Crafty spies on the ground… Which means we know about the Kottbusser, a summer seasonal from Mal, which follows hot on the heels of the brewery’s popular Baltic Porter. It’s a wheat beer named after the town of its origins that was apparently outlawed because the inclusion of molasses, honey and raw oats went against the Reinheitsgebot. Colonial’s version sees Mal and assistant brewer Sorcha Gillen adding wheat, oats, light molasses and cinnamon into their brew before a generous dose of hops. According to Pia, it’s “delicious like a dirty, angry mandarin” and if that doesn’t make you curious, nothing will.