In part one of our guide to the beer-soaked delights of the South West of Western Australia, we traversed the upper fringe of the Margaret River region. In part two, we head south into the heart of one of the most populous areas for breweries anywhere in Australia.
You can read day one here or dive straight in to...
Margaret River and surrounds
Day two’s journey intentionally criss-crosses the region on its way south to Margaret River. Why be in a hurry when there’s rolling vistas of beautiful bovine pastures, the serpentine Caves Road drive and ancient forests to admire between drinks?
Located 30 minutes south from Dunsborough (where we ended the first day), this brewery’s relaxed swagger oozes from every corner of the creatively up-cycled old dairy and hay sheds – it’s authentic, ego-free and downright cool. The large, open planned bar area opens up to a grassed area with a food hut overlooking the farm dam; there, when the weather is warm enough, younger visitors will love hurling themselves down the 50 metre long slippery slide.
Beer wise, the provenance of the farm and the South West region comes into play. Head brewer Josh Thomas is passionate about using local and seasonal ingredients in the many versions of the Beer Farm Berliner Weisse and saisons, such as the cult favourite Shirazzawiess.
The standout from the core range is the award-winning India Pale Lager that blends modern Mosaic stone fruit characters into the classic refreshment of a well made lager, while the seasonal and one-off range continues to expand and excite, with many beers created in partnership with like-minded local enterprise too. GS
The Beerfarm is at 177 Gale Road, Metricup
Darting back west, you'll reach Bootleg Brewing – an icon of the South West region. Launched by school teacher Tom Reynolds in the mid-90s (who has sold to new owners and retired since this article was first published), the brewery and some of its beers, such as cult favourite Raging Bull, predates most of those making up today's beer industry by some considerable distance but has maintained its currency through a steady stream of single batch releases, many of them collaborations with Western Australian retailers like Mane Liquor and Cellarbrations Carlisle.
These relationships have even stretched as far as San Diego when Stone Brewing handed Bootleg the recipe for its Arrogant Bastard so they could create a true bootleg take on the churlish hop bomb as part of Stone's 2016 global project. Drinkers visiting today can enjoy views from its sprawling lawns over the dam while grazing on a range of pub classics before leaving with packaged takeaway beers tucked under their arms. GS
Bootleg Brewery is located on the corner of Johnson and Puzey Road, Wilyabrup
Cheeky Monkey Brewery & Cidery
When back in the car, head west on Johnson Road until you reach Caves Road. This famous stretch of blacktop runs parallel to the coast for more than 100km between the two capes connecting Busselton to Augusta, the small town where the Indian and Antarctic oceans meet. Its serpentine shoulders are lined with more than 150 decorated caves, ancient forests, wineries of international acclaim.
It's where you'll find the original home of Cheeky Monkey Brewery. Since opening their doors in 2012, they've built a solid core range of beer that’s regularly embellished with single batch releases like the 10 percent ABV Silverback Imperial Stout and series of well-received IPAs and fruit sours.
Initially, the beers were designed and brewed by the ex BrewDog brewer Red Proudfoot, now one of the owners at Pirate Life. At the helm at time of writing, however, is Dillon Hunter, who put his own stamp on the current range. Cheeky Monkey underwent a full rebrand and brewery expansion in 2019. Their main production brewery is now in Vasse, where you'll find the Monkey Bar (see part one for more on that).
At their OG home in Caves Road, the restaurant and kids playground fills most days (seemingly within seconds of opening in the busier periods) and the onsite winery balances the worlds of grape and grain. Takeaway beer and wine is available plus there's a tempting providore filled with local artisan products for souvenirs or gourmet snacking. GS
Cheeky Monkey is at 4259 Caves Road, Wilyabrup
Colonial Brewing Co
Enjoy the southbound twists of Caves Road before cutting east on Cowaramup Bay Road back to the Bussell Highway. From here it’s a short drive further south to Osmington Road, the location of the Colonial Brewing Co (they now have a larger brewery and venue in Port Melbourne too). It's one of the original Margaret River breweries (open since 2004) and one of the more impressive brewery homes you'll find anywhere in Australia.
Visitors are welcomed by a colourful array of cow sculptures and growler chandeliers that light a main bar that includes a fireplace for the cooler months. The large outside deck and grassed area is covered with plenty of tables and a large playground surrounded by ample turf where you can kick a footy with the kids between drinks – or dispatch the kids while sampling the brewery's tight core range or ever-changing lineup of limited releases.
If you're peckish, the food's good, often using ingredients sourced from the farmland to the rear of the brewery, and, if you time the visit right, you might find live music and entertainment too. Growlers and cans are available for takeaway. GS
Colonial Brewing Co is at 56 Osmington Road, Margaret River WA 6285
Margaret River Brewhouse
Less than ten minutes away, at the bottom end of the town of Margaret River town itself, is Margaret River Brewhouse (formerly Brewhouse Margaret River). Eighteen months after opening, winning Best WA Beer and Best Commercial Beer at the 2017 Perth Royal Beer Show awards for its Peter Coupan Barrel Aged Stout helped raise the profile of what was an already thriving brewery.
Owned and operated by three local families, the brewery is nestled on the edge of the Karri forest and within walking distance of town. The modern surf shack hosts a bustling kitchen with a local and organic focus, while, outside, the deck leads to terraced lawn areas frequently filled with locals and those borrowing their relaxed lifestyle for a few days.
Late 2019 saw them undergo a total rebrand, switch from Brewhouse Margaret River to Margaret River Brewery and launch their beers in cans so they could hit the Perth market. Even so, the best way to get what they're all about is by pulling up a pew and a paddle or two at their venue. GS
Brewhouse Margaret River is at 35 Bussell Hwy, Margaret River
And There's More...
As with day one of this extended Crafty Crawl, if you're staying in the area for a while there's plenty more to keep your taste buds busy.
- Caves Road Collective – 3517 Caves Road, Wilyabrup – The large, family friendly venue on Caves Road is surrounded by vines and dam views. The venue houses Black Brewing Co with their approachable core range and funkier seasonal range of beers alongside Dune Distilling and Ground to Cloud winery. A modern Asian eatery also features in the large, beer hall style building.
- Cowaramup Brewing – North Treeton Road, Cowaramup – Located halfway between Dunsborough and Margaret River, Cowaramup Brewing (pictured above) focuses on well made classic, typically British-inspired, beers. Brewery tours are available, there's an open air cinema during the warmer months and co-founder and brewer of every beer you'll taste there Jeremy Good is great company if he's not working the tools.
- Morries Anytime – 2/149 Bussell Highway, Margaret River Margaret River – Lively, local focused bar at the top end of the Margaret River strip serving share plates, cocktails, wine and local beer.
- The Common – 1 Resort Place, Gnarabup – A welcoming beachside bistro bar featuring a pool table, wooden deck and a more casual riff on Margaret River’s locally focused hospitality.
- Settlers Tavern, 114 Bussell Highway, Margaret River – This 30-year-old icon has hosted some the best local and international touring acts over the years while its casual atmosphere, massive menu, Margaret River Ale Co beers and globally-recognised wine list lend it a broad appeal.
Part one of this Craft Crawl is here. Original article by Guy Southern; 2020 updates (including image at top) by Jono Outred.