Fremantle will forever deserve a place in the hearts of Australian craft beer lovers as it was here that the Sail & Anchor pub with its in-house Anchor Brewery first challenged the dominance of the big brewers and, subsequently, Matilda Bay and Little Creatures were born. Today, the coastal town is a must for any beer tourist, not only because it's a beautiful place to visit but because it's crammed with quality craft beer venues, including - since 2007 - the Monk Brewery & Kitchen.
The Monk's first beer left the brewery in January 2008 shortly after the restaurant opened; now they brew up to four times a week in summer and invite the public to pop their head into the brewery any time they like to have a look around and say "Hi" to the brewers. With a focus on preservative-free beers, they combine a year round range of regulars with limited releases that have included everything from a whiskey-soaked, date-infused Foreign Extra Stout named 'Adios Amigos' in tribute to a departing assistant brewer to a Cabernet Sauvignon barrel-aged smoked beer and coconut stout. As for the regulars, they saw the brewery shortlisted for Champion Exhibitor at the 2011 Australian International Beer Awards, where the Monk Mild won the trophy for Champion Reduced Alcohol Beer. Since then, they've picked up trophies and golds for their highly hopped beers too at the Perth Royal Beer Awards.
If you want to taste them, you have to head to the Monk itself, however, as they don't appear on tap anywhere else - except occasionally at the nearby Sail & Anchor. It's a trip worth taking as the Monk's a stylish venue in the heart of Freo, with wooden benches lining the beer garden on a strip filled with cafes, bars and restaurants that share a similar dedication to quality food and beer and boast a lively cosmopolitan atmosphere.
As for the Kitchen side of things, you'll often find the chefs experimenting with beer in food or beer and food matching as well as offering up weekly specials, including beer and bratwurst and paella on the terrace. Meanwhile alongside the Monk's beers on tap you'll often find a great selection of US imports, especially since USA Craft Beer Week in early 2011 for which they travelled to the States to oversee the importing of some of the country's finest beers. These were showcased at a series of special events, including dinners, tastings and tappings, that were in keeping with the Monk's love of a beery celebration, be it during their annual Oktoberfest or just because the sun's shining.