It was my boyfriends birthday over the weekend so his folks came down for a visit and we thought a Sunday lunch would be a nice way to spend an afternoon. We wanted to take them somewhere they hadn’t been before and if that place happened to have some fantastic beers on tap, well, that was just a cheeky bonus. Clancy’s Fish Pub Dunsborough fit the bill nicely, and since they don’t take bookings it was an easy exercise of rolling up at our leisure.
I love the Clancy’s Fish Pubs, the food is always tasty and fresh with a great range of tap beers with a local focus. When visiting any of the Clancy’s Fish Pubs – Fremantle, City Beach, Applecross and Dunsborough – it should be compulsory to order a minimum of one serve of Fried Mice and a pint of something local.
It was just after 12noon when we arrived at Clancy’s Fish Pub Dunsborough and plenty of other people had clearly had the same idea; not surprising since it was a sunny long weekend and the last one West Australians will get for a few months.
We hit the bar and delved head first in a diverse list of tap beers with a lot of local representation from Little Creatures, Nail Ale, Eagle Bay Brewing, Bootleg Brewery, Cowaramup Brewery, Tanglehead Brewing and Feral Brewery. With so many great local beers to choose from, it makes for a delightfully hard choice! We selected an array of beers to start with so we could do a little tasting of our own …
Nail Ale Australian Pale Ale
Eagle Bay Kolsch
Mountain Goat Steam Ale
It’s always a pleasure to have a pint of Nail Ale Australian Pale Ale, it’s consistently delicious with a great balance of bitter and fruit. It uses pale and crystal malts with Tasmanian Pride of Ringwood hops, for earthy, strong flavours, and Hallertau for floral aromas. Since Clancy’s are the only venues I see Nail Ale on tap it almost seems mandatory to get a pint.
I was given the responsibility of selecting beers for my boyfriends parents, a task that I happily took on. They enjoy lagers and pilsners and shared in a few Coopers Pale Ales we had the evening before. With this in mind I picked the Eagle Bay Kolsch and Mountain Goat Steam Ale.
I’ve said it a number of times but Kolsch is one of my favourite styles both for flavour, and as a style for recommending to lager enthusiasts. Eagle Bay Kolsch is light bodied with lovely hops and a little spice and stone fruit. It’s bright and looks gorgeous in the glass.
The words Mountain Goat Steam Ale conjure up images in my mind of a goat driving an old steam train. As for the beer itself, it is delicately herbal and fruity with a bit of wheat malt for extra refreshment and Cascade and Citra hops. Coming in at #37 in the 2011 The Critics’ Choice: Australia’s Best Beers, up from #47 the previous year, it’s also 100% certified organic.
Thankfully both beers were enjoyed; there’s something sweetly rewarding when you pick a beer for someone and they like it and order another.
It had also been almost a year since I’d tasted the Cowaramup Pilsener from a tasting paddle on a visit to the brewery almost a year ago. During my day in the brewhouse of Colonial Brewery with Mal, Head Brewer, he had been singing the praises of Jeremy and his Cowaramup Pilsener so when I spotted it off tap I was keen to have a pint. The family owned and operated Cowaramup Brewery lies on the edge of Margaret River in Cowaramup, a town that is affectionately known by the locals as “cow town”, and they grow a few hop varieties on site that are used in their beers. Their Pilsener was awarded a Champion Lager trophy at the 2011 Australian International Beer Awards and made its first appearance in latest The Critics’ Choice Australia’s Best Beers at #58. It’s a German style Pilsener conditioned for seven weeks and using Perle and Tettnanger hops, both of which originate in Germany.
We soon noticed the line for ordering food was starting to grow so we grabbed our beers and headed for the queue. When we first joined the line our intention was to order one serve of Fried Mice and one serve of Grilled Sardine Fillets. By the time we reached the counter we ordered 2 serves of Fried Mice, the Grilled Sardine Fillets and 2 serves of Tempura House Fish & Chips. I wonder whether that happens to everyone standing in the line which just happens to be right where the food comes out of the kitchen.
Soon it was time for another round and my boyfriend and I opted for something different again and something darker.
Bootleg Black Market IPA
The Black Market IPA is one of my favourite offerings from Bootleg Brewery which has been operating in the Margaret River region since 1994. The happy harmony between dark malts, creating richness and darkness, and aromatic and floral hops, makes for one of my favourite brews. It was also an interesting match to the Fried Mice, acting like an IPA would to the heat of the dish on top of dark malt richness adding a contrasting rich sweetness. The Black IPA, India Black Ale, or whatever you want to call it, has been surfacing in popularly in recent years and if you’re keen you’ll find a great article on the style on ‘Australian Brew News’.
Tanglehead Brewery is located in Albany amongst the Great Southern region of Western Australia, the town is most commonly associated with whale watching, the Stirling Ranges and Bluff Knoll. I have not visited Albany since I was a kid (and the only thing I remember is being car sick and throwing up in the hotel) so I will have to make a point of returning soon. They had the Tanglehead Stout on tap, which is an Oatmeal Stout, silky and rich and dominated by chocolate and coffee notes. It was a rather strange follow up to the Black Market IPA and played a bit of havoc with my palate but certainly a nice velvety drop.
The food arrived in good time considering the place had filled up very quickly and we wondered just how many serves of their Tempura Fish & Chips would have been pumped from the kitchen over the long weekend. The fish tasted fresh and flavoursome and was perfectly cooked; the Fried Mice were great (as always) and thankfully didn’t burn your palate to the point of numbness and the Grilled Sardine Fillets were a great tangy little bite to start on.
The atmosphere at Clancy’s is always a bright and bubbly one with yellow, red and blue seats scattered throughout the venue. The grass, having seen a decent dose of rain recently, was healthy and green with parents and kids running around, kicking a footy (despite seeing West Coast lose to Brisbane on the big screen TV inside) and enjoying the open space and sunshine. The staff are friendly and it speaks volumes when you see the bartenders having a laugh and a joke with each other and their customers; it looks like a great team with Jane (formerly of the Clancy’s Fish Pub Fremantle) running the show. Combine this with great fresh food (their fish is caught and delivered fresh daily) and an impressive representation of local beers and ciders and it really captures what the South West is all about.