Western Australia is not only regarded as the birthplace of the modern craft beer scene in Australia, it is home to some of the most spectacular microbreweries in the country. From Little Creatures on the waterfront in Fremantle to many of the breweries that call the Margaret River region home, there are plenty where the experience of being there is as much part of the joy as the beer itself.
Joining the state’s lineup of majestic breweries is Homestead. Opened in late 2014, just a short drive outside Perth, on the sprawling site it shares with Mandoon Estate winery (and some of the oldest vines in Swan Valley), it’s a property where everything has been thought of and no expense has been spared. As well as the impressive wine tasting room and even more impressive adjacent brewery, there’s polished function rooms, a fine dining restaurant, a tree-shaded beer garden with kids area, plus onsite deli, planned accommodation, mooring on the river and, well, you get the message; if you’re a fan of sculpture, there’s that too.
It’s the dream turned reality of Croatian property developer Allan Erceg who wanted to give something back to the Swan Valley region where his parents brought him as a child, with his gift taking the shape of this multi-million dollar tourist destination. And at its heart is the Homestead Brewery, named after the original Swan Valley homestead around which this new attraction has been built.
As with all other aspects of the project, serious money and planning has been invested into the brewery. What could be the shiniest set of stainless steel in the country is also the Southern Hemisphere’s only microbrewery from Germany’s Kaspar Schulz, the world’s oldest brewery manufacturer – in operation since 1677. It’s a 20 hectolitre brewpub setup that fills half a dozen 40 hectolitre tanks from which beer is poured through the venue’s 48 taps.
The man initially brought in to fill those tanks is one that many in the beer world will know. Head brewer Ron Feruglio was the co-founder and head brewer at Victoria’s Temple Brewing before leaving after a change of ownership to seek new adventures. He used his gleaming new tools to concoct an array of fine beers and ciders, from a popular lager and fruity Belgian ale to a black IPA that will make those bemoaning the loss of the Midnight IPA at Temple when he left rather happy.
The beer that perhaps turned most beer geeks’ heads, however, is the Kaiser’s Choice. This Bavarian-inspired hefeweizen can make a strong claim to be the most traditional and best wheat beer in Australia; it’s brewed on a German system that allows for the triple decoction brew Bavarian brewers of the style favour and uses all German malts, hops and yeast.
Ron also experimented from the off, with experimentation involving much use of oak, before leaving Homestead in the Summer of 2016/16. His replacements have embarked on what's seemingly a favoured hobby among WA brewers: collaborating.
All in all, it’s a project in which the goal from the off has been to strive for quality, whatever the cost, and one with just the one slight drawback for Aussie beer lovers: the beer disappears so quickly at the brewery that you’re incredibly unlikely to find it pouring anywhere else ever.