adventures in craft beer in Perth and beyond

Beer Story: Bootleg Raging Bull

There are a lot of great beers out there and some beers are so memorable that the mention of that beer fills you with happy feelings. Maybe you remember where you were when you first had it, the way it tasted and the way it looked or maybe you just remember thinking “damn, this is really special”. You might be thinking I sound like a love sick fool and you’d be right, some beers I am downright head over heels in love with. Like anything you fall in love with you find yourself thirsty (pardon the pun) to learn more about it, you want to get to know it better and so here’s my semi-regular series – ‘Beer Story’, a look into beers I love, the stories behind their making and interviews with the brewer/s.


The first Beer Story I wrote way back in January so it appears that by “semi regular” I mean “six monthly”, certainly not my intention but perhaps I can do better with the third one.

In the mean time, here is the second Beer Story, this time on one of my most loved WA beers – Bootleg Raging Bull.

Bootleg Raging Bull

7.1% ABV | Robust Porter | Available All Year

Bootleg Brewery

Bootleg Brewery | Margaret River, WA 

A bit about Bootleg Brewery – Bootleg’s tagline has always been: “An oasis of beer in a desert of wine” and whilst there are many breweries in the south west today it wasn’t the case back in 1994 when Bootleg first opened her doors.

Margaret River is famous for wine all over the world and when Bootleg opened they were the only brewery in the area. To put things into perspective, Bootleg opened six years before Perth would see beers from Nail Brewing or Little Creatures who both started life in 2000.

For Bootleg’s history check out their website.

Bootleg’s Raging Bull is available all year round so even when it’s 40 degrees outside you can enjoy a Raging Bull in the blasting WA sun if that’s what tickles your fancy.

I’ve seen Raging Bull described as a robust porter, a Belgian dark ale, a strong ale, whatever style it is, quite frankly, it’s just a sensational beer. It’s 7.1% ABV so a little on the dangerous side and unapologetically so, it’s a beast of a beer. Rich red fruits, chocolate, coffee, plums, spice and biscuit are there and more, it’ll develop as it warms up and soon you’ll be reaching for another bottle.

Raging Bull turns 20 this year and the old girl is still looking so good. Bootleg’s general manager, Michael Brookes, says that people are visiting the brewery today who remember their father drinking Raging Bull. Pretty impressive, I remember my dad drinking Emu Export cans at home and pints of Redback at the pub.

Here is an interview I did a couple of months ago with Michael Brookes all about Raging Bull.

How did Raging Bull come to be?

Originally developed as relative of the original Dogbolter strong ale 7.5% brewed when Matilda Bay were in Nedlands and Fremantle. Also Ironbrew, another Matilda Bay early gem, was a relative. So it was Bootleg owner Tom Reynolds, ex-Matilda Bay brewers Rolf Vickers (now head brewer in Dublin for Guinness) and John Tollis who decided to formulate a recipe and give birth to Raging bull as we now know it.

Note: Dogbolter is still made by Matilda Bay however it’s now a dark lager – read more here.

When it was first released?

Mid-1995

Where did the name come from?

“Raging” came from the strength of the beer. At the time and still today cattle are agisted at the property and a bull was in the line of sight when names were being decided.

Black IPA at Bootleg Brewery

Still one of the best beer gardens in WA! This is a pretty old photo of a visit to drink Black Market IPA

Do you remember how people responded to Raging Bull at first?

They loved it same as they do now.

How does it compare to how people respond to their first Raging Bull these days?

Same.

What is the strangest description you’ve heard for Raging Bull?

Instead of words they cheer and get excited. They love the flavours of drinking old fashioned beer, the real stuff, not technically perfect but are consuming the real stuff of fine handcrafted ale.

Beer style for Raging Bull?

Highest end of robust porter.

Has the recipe for Raging Bull changed over the years?

No.

How much Raging Bull do you brew each year and is it on the rise?

Still brewed in 1500lt batches, more and more fermenters are filled up with bull each year!

How would you describe Raging Bull to someone who doesn’t drink a lot of beer?

A unique experience, it’s not beer as you know it.

What food would you match to Raging Bull?

Bootleg’s famous beef pie.

Beef & Bull Pie – Beef and vegetable chunks braised in a rich gravy with our Raging Bull Dark Ale w/ fries and salad. For full Bootleg Brewery Food Menu – download it here.

And finally, any memorable stories of serving a customer a Raging Bull?

At Dowerin Field Days we were doing tastings and the wheat farmers reactions to 7.1% was awesome and seeing them leaving with cartons over their shoulders, we grinned and how the parties around the bonfires those nights went on and on!


I had intended to, as I did in my past Beer Story post, leave some links to read more about Bootleg’s Raging Bull however it was a surprisingly hard task. Several Google searches came up short of things I’d recommend reading. The occasional beer review popped up but I found them very short and lacking in any new or interesting information.

2 Responses to “Beer Story: Bootleg Raging Bull”

  1. Ryan

    I remember the first time I tried Raging Bull. My friend, who worked at the brewery, brought me a few bottles to try at another friend’s leaving party. Given this was about fifteen years ago, it was the first time I’d tried a beer like this. Absolutely blew me away! Still enjoy drinking it to this day.

    Reply

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