Cream of the hop
All you need to know about the South West Craft Beer Festival + WIN 2x double passes
Words by Norman Burns | Images by Elements Margaret River
The South West Craft Beer Festival in Busselton on 13 February will showcase the cream of the region’s boutique breweries, cider makers and much, much more.
I’m not sure if Duff Beer qualifies as a craft brew but there’s no denying Homer Simpson’s homage to this most-excellent of beverages is right on the money. And beer lovers will be in seventh heaven on 13 February when the best boutique brewers in the region get to strut their stuff at Old Broadwater Farm, near Busselton, for the South West Craft Beer Festival.
Now in its fifth year, the South West Craft Beer Festival promises to be bigger and better than ever, with more than 60 brews to tempt your tastebuds. Add in samples of the South West’s finest food, some cool and groovy beats on three stages, and you’ve got a day that ticks all the boxes. Brewers will also be vying for the honour of the Boilertronics South West Beer of the Year. The head brewer of each attending exhibitor (at the time of going to press 16 brewers and cideries, plus a winery, were confirmed starters but many more were expected to be added to the list of exhibitors) will nominate one beer for the contest, the winner getting a $1,000 cash prize – but more importantly, a massive publicity boost and bragging rights with their peers.
The $30 admission (plus booking fee) will include one plastic cup and four tasting tokens (smart festival goers will ensure they have a nondrinking designated driver for the day) and gates will open from 10.30am, with drinks service from 11am. The event winds up at 7pm.
So whether you’re an ale guy/woman, lager drinker, wheat beer aficianado, have a pale ale preference, look to the dark (ale) side or really love your cider and perry, the South West Beer Festival is going to have something for everyone.
Take a look at just some of the great South West boutique breweries and cideries, and their star products.
COWARAMUP BREWING COMPANY
Family owned and operated, these guys are veterans having been in the region for over 10 years, consistently providing great brews, delicious food and good times. With a restaurant focusing on local produce and seven beers currently available on tap at the brewery including: Cowaramup Pilsener, Cowaramup Hefeweizen, Cowaramup Lightsign Summer Ale, Cowaramup Special Pale Ale, Cowaramup India Pale & Cowaramup Porter. CBC also have a range of delicious local wines available by the glass or bottle as well as alcoholic Ginger Beer & lemon Lime & Bitters.
See Cowaramup Brewing Company
The Margaret River Region’s Bootleg Brewery has been handcrafting a range of multi awardwinning ales and lagers since 1994. For the festival, it brings, among others, its Raging Bull Dark Ale to the table. And, as its name suggests, this is no shrinking violet of a beer – it weighs in with a 7.1% alcohol content, and the combo of three Australian specialty malts and Tasmanian Pride of Ringwood Hops generates intense flavours of coffee and dark fruit. Like the original Raging Bull, boxer Jake LaMotta (memorably portrayed by Robert De Niro in the movie of the same name), this packs quite a punch.
BUSH SHACK BREWERY
Chilli Beer, Chocolate Beer, the intriguingly named Pharaoh’s Spelt Beer and Dirty Dan’s Dark Delight are just four of the brews on offer from family-owned Yallingup microbrewery, the Bush Shack Brewery. It began as the Wicked Ale Brewery in the 1990s and now Danial and Coralie Wind specialise in creating all-natural, unfiltered brews, as well as producing flavoured wine-based drinks. For something different, try Scream’n Cream’n or Mango Madness.
See Bush Shack Brewery
CHEEKY MONKEY BREWERY & CIDERY
The Cheeky Monkey Brewery & Cidery has been creating beautiful handcrafted beers and cider since 2012. Cheeky Monkey is taking bold steps and expanding into canning their brews. So for summer 2015, you’ll be able to take a Cheeky Monkey can of beer or cider with you on picnics and days out – perfect for the esky. Expect seasonal brews and the hoppy Hagenbeck Belgian IPA, a mid-strength called Travelling Monk, plus ciders and more.
COLONIAL BREWING CO
Based in the heart of the Margaret River Region, the Colonial Brewing Co produces a wide range of superbly crafted beers, from draught to pale ale to witbier (wheat beer) and special “project” brews in which it encourages its brewers to “think outside the box”. The latest of these project brews is the Grapefruit Kristallweizen. A Kristallweizen is the filtered version of the traditional German wheat beer Hefeweizen, where the yeast is removed from the beer giving it a sparkling clarity. Says Colonial: “German wheat beers are renowned for the yeast that is used which creates candied banana, clove and sometimes smoky, aromas. We thought grapefruit would be a nice complement to these flavours, plus we had about 200kg growing on our orchard at the brewery property.” Colonial peeled the grapefruit, dried the skins and added these to the last couple of minutes of the “boil” to extract the zesty flavour of the fruit. The result, says Colonial, is what should be the “perfect beer” for summer – nice biscuit flavours from the malt, thick, creamy mouth feel from the wheat, candied banana and clove from the yeast and the grapefruit adding refreshing citrus flavours and some bitterness. Sounds delicious.
EAGLE BAY BREWING CO
Eagle Bay Brewing Co’s modus operandi is beer, pure beer – fresh rainwater, malted barley, yeast and atmosphere. Says Eagle Bay: “No preservatives or nasty stuff in our beers.” The family-run boutique brewery brings its own take on various beer styles – including a light and summery Kolsch (4.7%), an Americanstyle Pale Ale (5.1%) and, something to warm the cockles of the hearts of many an Englishman, an Extra Special Bitter (5.4%).