CRAFT beer – two words that make us positively giddy with excitement.
‘Craft’, the activity of making things by hand, conjures images of artisans stooped over work benches, planing sumptuous beams of wood to be used in the construction of something beautiful.
‘Beer’ brings to mind long evenings of conversation, pocked with ribald jokes and spasms of laughter among the closest of friends – topped off with a kebab.
Perth’s beer scene has evolved a long way from the days of Swan Draught and Emu Export (the latter’s astonishing re-invention as the go-to brew of the hip set still astounds).
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A microbrewery is defined as one “which produces limited quantities of beer, typically for consumption on its own premises”.
We must make mention of the debt the craft brewing scene owes to Little Creatures, which set new standards in excellence for West Australian beer.
And the baton has been passed to a new generation, proudly keeping the craft beer spirit alive.
Here are our picks for the best drops around:
10. Feral Brewing Co, 152 Haddrill Road, Baskerville
Founded in 2002 and nestled in the glorious Swan Valley, Feral has been churning out quality beers for 15 years. Feral is family owned and independent, and their range has evolved into five year-round brews as well as other specialty and seasonal beers. We reckon the Feral White is pretty close to paradise.
9. The Monk Craft Brewery Kitchen, 33 South Terrace Fremantle
With early craft beer pioneers The Sail and Anchor giving up brewing their own varieties, it has been left to Monk to carry on South Terrace’s brewing tradition. The team at Monk do brilliantly, with a superb range of beers and ciders, we can heartily recommend the ‘Monk Extra’, a wonderful IPA, and the ‘Monk Apple Cider’ ticks all the right boxes.
8. Indian Ocean Brewing Co, Mindarie Marina
There are few things better than watching the sunset over the Indian Ocean nursing an American Pale Ale from the brewery that bears its name. Indian Ocean’s range is small, but spot-on – and the surrounds are just divine.
7. Ironbark Brewery, The Valencia Complex, 55 Benara Road, Caversham
Another Swan Valley favourite, Ironbark’s beers are just divine. With brilliant, unique beers like the Cherry Ale, the Blokes Brown and – our personal fave – the Golden Wheat, it’s hard to find a bad drop at Ironbark.
6. Three Rivers Brewing Company, 2/6 Harlem Place, Greenfields
Run by the Rivers family, the Three Rivers name also refers to the the Serpentine, Murray and Harvey rivers, which feed the Peel area. They brew a host of quality drops and have an emphasis on sustainability. An example are their tanks and fermenters, all of which started out on milk farms in WA and Victoria before being upcycled into brewing equipment.
5. Mash Brewing, 10250 West Swan Road, Henley Brook
Beginning in 2006 and another Swan Valley favourite, Mash has churned out an impressive batch of beers and collected a huge swag of awards in their time. The Guv’Nor Pale Ale is a beautiful drop, and the Copy Cat IPA – named because everyone was having a go at the IPA – is far better than some pale imitation.
4. Little Creatures, 40 Mews Road, Fremantle
This list could never be complete without everyone’s favourite former crocodile farm – Little Creatures was at the forefront of the craft beer revolution, and although the company is a far cry from the small group of mates who began the company in the year 2000, the quality of the beer remains first rate – especially the Rogers, which remains one of the all-time great mid-strength beers.
3. Elmar’s in the Valley, 8731 West Swan Road, Henley Brook
You know who knows beer? Germans – and Elmar’s in the Valley is a little slice of Bavaria right here in Perth. Home to the largest glass micro-brewery kettle in the Southern Hemisphere, Elmar’s produces a range of award-winning beers, brewed in strict accordance with the 1516 German beer purity law.
2. Northbridge Brewing Company, 44 Lake Street, Northbridge
Master brewer Ken Arrowsmith is the man behind Northbridge Brewing Company’s superb Beerland range and the brewery has been producing top-quality drops since opening in 2014. The Beerland Wheat, a delicious take on a German wheat beer, is worth a trip there alone.
1. Gage Roads, 14 Absolon Street, Palmyra
Named for the strip of ocean dividing Fremantle and Rottnest, Gage Roads has been steadily increasing its beautiful range of craft beers. In 2016, the company received its greatest honour when its Little Dove new world pale ale was crowned champion beer at the Australian International Beer Awards. One sip and you’ll know why. But no matter what beer it is you try – Single Fin, Sleeping Giant, Break Water – you’ll be glad you did. Unfortunately, Gage Roads is the only one of our best breweries that isn’t open to the public, but they’re in plenty of pubs throughout the metro area.