When one thinks of the gourmet delights awaiting you in Australia’s western state, the mind usually drifts to the Margaret River and its world-renowned wines. But in recent times Western Australia has also been making a name for itself with craft beer, some of which are making inroads into the national market. Others though remain available only in the fertile grounds outside Perth in the Swan Valley.
When I recently travelled to Perth, a tour of these breweries was high on the agenda, and thankfully for those wanting to sample the beers, there are several tour companies who take on the driving as in the name of bringing beer lovers and breweries together.
On our visit, we decided to tour with Beer Nuts, although they’re not the only option for beer touring in WA. The Brewers Dray and Top Gun Tours also have excellent reputations. Beer Nuts, however, was the first of the WA beer tours, now running for over 3 years.
We were picked up from our hostel right on time by our congenial host for the day, Martin. Since I’m also in the business of beer touring, I was pretty keen to hear how Martin came to run Perth’s first dedicated beer tour. It turns out he was doing the daily grind at his corner store business, loved beer, and simply saw a gap in the market. Perth had no shortage of winery tours, but nobody was showing any love to the breweries. And so, for reasons not unlike my own South East Queensland tour, Beer Nuts was born. Martin says he has never looked back.
It took little more than half an hour for the trusty Beer Nuts steed, a very comfortable air-conditioned bus capable of taking 25 passengers, to carry us to the first brewery on the circuit, Feral Brewing. Feral’s reputation has spread to the Eastern States, with their highly regarded Feral White increasingly available on our side of the continent.
Beer Nuts has several different tour options available depending on whether you’re simply after transport to the breweries, or looking for something more such as lunch and tasting beers. We chose the latter. Within a couple of minutes of arriving at Feral we had a tasting tray of 5 beers in our hand, showcasing the very wide variety of Feral brews, from White through to a dubbel and saison.
Martin proved to be a most flexible operator, happy to stick around for as long as we wanted at any one brewery and making plenty of suggestions for other potential stops in the beautiful Swan Valley. You could hardly find a happier man with cheery greetings awaiting us at each brewery. We got the feeling that, after 3 years of bringing many guests to each brewery, Martin was very much part of the furniture there. At the second brewery, Ironbark, the brewers were more than happy for Martin to show us around the brewing operations at the back, while we enjoyed their fantastic pilsener and Iron Bock. Likewise we were more than happy for him to join us while we ate our huge hearty lunch at Ironbark, and he regaled us with tales of tours past and gave us the inside word on local brewery politics and news.
The remaining breweries were all clustered around a small patch no more than 5 minutes drive apart. In addition to visiting Elmar’s, Duckstein and Mash Brewing, we also made time to drop in at Sandalford, an established winery, and the Margaret River Chocolate Company, where we picked up some decadent rocky road. By the time we’d done all that, we were merry, full of beer and cheer, and somewhat ready for a nap. Martin’s bus turned into the Beer Nuts express back to Perth where we were safely deposited back at our hostel.
All in all, the experience was highly memorable, the beer amazing, and the service in the form of our knowledgeable and amiable tour guide exemplary. Next time you’re in Perth give him a call and enjoy the wonders of Swan Valley’s breweries and beyond.
The Brewers Dray
phone: +61 (0)8 9331 5631
email: [email protected]
*Editor’s note and disclosure: Pete Luetjens runs a similar tour business in South East Queensland. He paid his own way to go on this tour and does not advertise on Australian Brews News.