It was on separate trips along the West Coast of the US that schoolmates Al Carragher and Brendan Varis hatched their plan for a brewery on the West Coast of Australia. It took a number of years for the plan to come together, during which Brendan project managed brewery installations and start-ups across Australia while Al worked in beer sales and identified the future site, but since opening its doors in Swan Valley in October 2002, Feral has gained a reputation for its beers that places it at the very pinnacle of the Australian brewing industry.
With Al long since in Melbourne running the Great Northern Hotel – the pub to first feature Feral on tap in the East – Brendan, his head brewer Will Irving and their growing team set about taking Aussie-brewed beer to new places, letting their imaginations run wild.
They enjoyed years of continued awards success, including Champion Exhibitor at the Australian International Beer Awards in 2009, when the brewery also picked up top gongs for its Hop Hog, Razorback barleywine and Feral White, a Belgian witbier that was the brewery's first release. Or 2012, when Feral was named AIBA Champion Large Australian Brewery, or 2015 when its sour Berliner Weisse style beer Watermelon Warhead was named Champion Australian Craft Beer. And so on...
In June 2012, Feral moved to a 5,000 litre setup established with another WA brewery, Nail, leaving the original brewery to be used for small batch brews. Then, in late 2016, they moved a few hundred metres down the road to a larger facility that allowed them to increase production to six million litres a year – and saw them add a canning line too.
Arguably, the biggest change occurred when the brewery was bought by Coca-Cola Amatil in October 2017. With Brendan departing in the years that followed, and Will moving onto fresh adventures too, the brewery has continued putting out eye-catching and popular beers, not least the Biggie Juice series of hazy East Coast IPAs.
That said, there will be many who argue October 3, 2021, counts as an even more significant moment than the takeover by CCA. It marked the closure of Feral's Swan Valley brewpub and spiritual home. Whether a new venue will rise to take its place remains to be seen.
For now, however, the brewery continues to focus on bringing typically hop-forward beers to its fans, completing a revamp of the core range in winter 2022 that puts the award-winning Runt and feisty West Coast IPA War Hog at either end of the lineup with the evergreen Hop Hog and Biggie Juice in between.