In WA’s South West, you find an array of breweries spread throughout the region’s idyllic landscapes, from sandy beachfronts and crashing coastlines to vineyard views and towering Karri forests.
Brugan, located in Wokalup – population less than 500 – finds itself situated amid cattle-strewn pastures that flip flop between luxuriant green in winter and pale golden brown in summer; it’s a picturesque location where owners Bruce Hathway and Megan Hardwick – the titular Bru and gan – brew both seasonal and year-round beers, offering locals and tourists alike an entirely unique hospitality experience.
First things first: don’t let Brugan’s seemingly isolated locale deter you – they are but two hours drive from Perth and one from Busselton – meaning it only requires a slight detour on a visit to the South West to check out their freshly-brewed beers in the fresh country air, as well as their casual, modern pub menu and a lush, grassed beer garden (complete with farm fresh sites and sounds).
With a focus on traditional styles, Brugan have designed a range they hope will suit just about every taste, created on a 10 hectolitre brewery and oftentimes featuring fresh hops from a local family grower. Said brewery is fully on display to the public, almost doubling as a centrepiece within the new build, industrial chic warehouse in which it resides. An upper platform and dining area allows punters to look down below on the brewing process, while experiencing the familiar smells and sounds of brewing.
The beer lineup varies depending on the season, but on any given day their core range and a few limited releases typically feature. When The Crafty Pint called in, an IPA, vanilla porter, fresh hop amber ale, hazy IPA and citrus sour were among the offerings, alongside the pale ale and Kolsch brewed regularly for the thirsty locals. Bruce – the owner and jack of all trades at Brugan – says he favours brewing traditional styles but is happy to explore modern interpretations and more on trend styles too.
Away from the beer and brewing, the team is proud of Brugan’s connection to vintage pub history and aesthetics; there’s a polarity between the historic Wokalup Tavern where Brugan resides and the contemporary industrial stylings of the brewing facilities and beer garden. The two are linked and run as one yet offer contrasting experiences, albeit both featuring classic country service with a smile.
For those looking to dine, you’ll find an approachable pub style menu made up of platters for sharing alongside items charred and roasted on the wood fire grill. Dishes like battered fish and chips and grilled steaks are representative of the brewery’s pub ties, while Cajun fried chicken wings with a Vanilla Porter BBQ Sauce makes for an equally beer-friendly offering. And in the spirit of showcasing local produce, neighbouring cheesemakers Harvey Cheese supply a fresh Harvati for fried cheese sticks; their haloumi also comes grilled in a quinoa salad.
If you pick the breweries you visit based entirely on uniqueness of experience, Brugan would tick a fair few boxes. From their semi-isolated location in a tiny historic WA town to a food menu that could rival a bustling city pub, not to mention their traditionalist approach to beers with smatterings of fresh hops, Brugan offer a point of difference for anyone seeking something new.
Yet despite the brewery’s distinctive nature, it has much in common with its Australian craft beer peers too: Bruce and Megan are focused on simply offering guests a good time centred around the beers and food they’ve poured their hearts – and names – into. So whether it’s a brief day trip, or you’re on a grand tour of the breweries in the greater South West, Brugan is another to add to your hit list.