Great Beer Menus – Morrie’s Anytime

‘Great Beer Menus’ is basically just a fancy name for me going to venues I like and celebrating the fact they have great beer …

‘Great Beer Menus’ is basically just a fancy name for me going to venues I like and celebrating the fact they have great beer …
I love craft beer and going to venues who share my passion, pubs likes The Sail & Anchor and Clancy’s Fish Pub and bottle shops like the International Beer Shop are WA institutions for great craft beer. It’s what they love, it’s what they know, it’s what they do.
But just because you’re not a “craft beer venue” doesn’t mean you can’t have a kick ass beer list. I’m delighted to find more restaurants, small bars, local bottle shops and pubs whose fridges were previously filled with European lagers have been invaded by a few local and international craft beers.
It puts a big smile on my face to see venues paying equal attention to their beer list as they do their food, wine and cocktails. Those who don’t, those who have settled on a beer list that features Cascade Light, Crown Lager and Stella, are well and truly behind the eight ball. It’s kinda like getting all dressed up for an elegant night out, putting all that thought into your hair, dress, make up and jewelry and then wearing your muddy sneakers. Crown Lager is a muddy sneaker.
It’s time to put the spotlight on these great places …

The paprika on the mayo really makes this dish zing!

At the top of the main drag in Margaret River is a particular spot that hasn’t been very kind to it’s previous inhabitants, the BoHo bar was short lived and I can’t even remember what was there before. I guess that’s the power of Morrie’s Anytime, since opening their doors in July last year they have not only claimed their territory but given their guests plenty of reasons to visit and love.

As the name suggests, Morrie’s Anytime welcomes you whether you’re looking for coffee and cake, lunch or dinner or just a few nibbles. The emphasis is on service, supporting locals and damn good food and drink. Sounds good to me.

Which brings us to their beer menu featuring loads of local favourites which is both a conscious direction for the venue and a requirement of their liquor license, applying not only to their beers but wines as well. Bootleg Brewery, Colonial Brewing, Eagle Bay Brewing, Duckstein Brewery and Cheeky Monkey Brewery & Cidery are all within an hours drive and appear on their beer menu. There’s also Feral Brewing and Little Creatures Brewing helping to round out the local flavour. Throw in a couple of internationals and that’s an extremely drinkable bunch of beers.

I recently sat down with Morrie’s Anytime general manager Billy Phillips to chat about the venue and their beers.

Billy and Alex at Morrie's

What's your inspiration for your beer list?

Well I guess a bad inspiration would be the law* but yeah (laughs) but sticking to the parameters we had it’s about going local and trying to get as many different styles as we can and showing off the local talent we have.

*Their liquor licence requires the venue to stock a minimum of 80% local beers and wines

What do you hope the beer list says about Morrie's Anytime?

That we are pushing sustainable and we want to support local just like we also do with our meat which is local produce from Margaret River Gourmet Meats. With pretty much everything we try to get it local but within reason of course, Tanqueray (gin) comes from England (laughs) . We also do specials where we’ll use the name of the person who has donated a batch of limes so you might see ‘using Kate’s limes for your mojito’ and things like that. It’s fun to keep the community involved.

Love the way the cheese has melted inside and droops as you cut it open!

How often will you update the beer list?

It’s on constant rotation. If someone puts a beer in a bottle that’s from here (WA) and tastes great then of course I’m going to put it on. Then you get great beers like Feral Hop Hog that you can’t go past. I want anything that’s great. We have a Spanish beer on at the moment and that fits in with the tapas – Alhambra Reserva which is a knock out beer and works well with the food. The beers all hopefully fit into our food and menu.

Margaret River is known predominately as a wine region,
how do you think Margaret River locals perceive beer?

It’s kinda cool cause we get a lot of winemakers in and winemakers drink beer (laughs). They’re super happy especially since because they’re a tight crew of people, they know who’s brewing the beers, they know all the breweries around here so they might say “oh yeah, let’s try Red’s (Jared Proudfoot, head brewer) beer from Cheeky Monkey” and things like that. The breweries are starting to really pick up; there was an article in the local paper a week ago about how Margaret River is now getting to be known for beer, it’s really booming.

Morrie's inside-but-kinda-outside-but-not area which I really dig

What is your favourite beer on the list
and what Morrie's dish would you pair with it?

Ohhh (laughs) (pause) the Alhambra Reserva and the Feral Hop Hog are just top notch beers and I’ve been a Little Creatures Pale Ale fan for a decade now and they’re all on the list so yeah, it’s a tough one for me to nail down. The Colonial Kolsch is on tap which is also really, really good. (pause) I’m only supposed to pick one aren’t I? (laughs) I guess it depends on what kind of mood I’m in, if it’s late at night and I’m looking for a heartier meal I’ll match it with a heartier beer like Feral Hop Hog and actually that’d be really nice with the Twice Cooked Japanese Chicken, it’s finger licking good chicken! (laughs) That’s probably the best tapas to match with beer instead of wine. The pork belly [Master stock pork belly with thai caramel, coriander and lime] is more of an Asian style dish which would be good with the Colonial Kolsch.

Terrine at Morrie's

What I love about beers at Morrie’s …

♥ Local love – with so many south west beers, coming from Dunsborough to Margaret River, it’s means they’re supporting local and it’s super-dooper fresh. Yay!

♥ The beers are on the website – I know that doesn’t sound like a huge thing but so many places list their wines, cocktails and even coffees on their website but totally overlook beer. Morrie’s doesn’t.

♥ High rotation – in the few weeks between my first and second visit to Morrie’s the bottled beer list had a few changes, keeping it fresh and interesting for the repeat offenders, of which I am confident there are many.

Maybe how all blog posts should end .. with a devoured meal and beer

girl + crafty pint

Does one article allow me to call myself a “writer”? I ask because my first article was published on The Crafty Pint recently and I’m keen to re-label myself as a “writer” rather than “alcoholic blogger”; it just rolls off the tongue easier.

Does one article allow me to call myself a “writer”? I ask because my first article was published on The Crafty Pint recently and I’m keen to re-label myself as a “writer” rather than “alcoholic blogger”; it just rolls off the tongue easier.

The Crafty Pint is one of the best beery sources for news and updates on what’s happening in the Australian Craft Beer scene. Basically if you love the craft beer being made around the country then you should have this bookmarked, and don’t forget to follow them on Twitter and like them on Facebook – seriously, do it now. It’s good for you. And they were good enough to ask me to write an article which makes me like them even more!

My article is about Cheeky Monkey, the newest brewery to call Margaret River home, and I was lucky enough to be able to have a chat and a beer with Jared (aka “Red”) who is their Head Brewer. I think I can get on board this being-a-writer business; I just might need to learn some bigger words.

Cheeky Monkey Brewery & Cidery

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – chatting with brewers is always delightful. I bombarded poor Red with question after question and thankfully he’s a patient man and I quickly realised I could have done a separate article purely on Red.

He came into brewing through the simple desire to do so. Once upon a time he worked as a contractor for Western Power and spend his days looking up, staring at power poles before he kinda thought something else might take his fancy. He discovered Brewdog, boundary pushing Scottish brewers, loved their beers and got on the website. It just so happened they were looking for brewers so he applied. Part of the application process involved listing some favourite beers and a few more steps later, Red found himself finishing up his job and jumping on a plane within 24 hours of each other. There isn’t much I don’t love about his story of becoming a brewer.

Fast forward 18 months and Red had gone from novice to senior brewer at Brewdog and back in his home town, Margaret River, he got word of a new brewery opening up. He seems completely at home in his first Head Brewer position, passionate and all about the beer, he is making tweaks and adjustments to his regular beer line up so that he’s 100% happy. Funnily enough the Cheeky Monkey beer I enjoyed the most. the Traveling Monk mid-strength Red Ale was, at time of our chat, the one he was most wanting to play with and throw more hops in. I won’t argue with the creator but I did love the beer so I’m looking forward to trying it later down the track.

Where the monkeys brew

He is also in the process of working on the next limited release, a chocolate stout, that they run under the label ‘Brewer’s Choice’. At the time of our chat both he and Eagle Bay Brewing had one in the development stage. Eagle Bay Brewing Co are located in Dunsborough, about 50km north of Margaret River and Cheeky Monkey, and are just another great craft brewer in the South West. Neither view the fact they are brewing a similar styled beer as a negative and in fact they may take part in a fun side by side tasting at a mutual venue; another example of the openness of the beer community that I adore. Cheeky Monkeys chocolate stout will be using cacao husks and nibs from local chocolatier ‘Gabriel Chocolate‘ and should be pouring off their taps shortly.

The next time you are at Cheeky Monkey and if Red is around be sure to say ‘hello’, he’s happy to chat and he makes great beer – I’m sure you’ll find something to talk about.

Many Cheeky Monkeys

Margaret River + 4 Hours

What to do in Margaret River for 4 hours?

You could walk through the town centre, pick up a take away coffee from The Urban Bean and duck your head into any one of the great stores for local produce, gifts, surf wear or a good book to read. You could park yourself at Settlers Tavern, try a pint of something locally brewed and order a generous and hearty lunch. Or … if you’re me … you cram as much food and beer into that 4 hours as you can …

What to do in Margaret River for 4 hours?

You could walk through the town centre, pick up a take away coffee from The Urban Bean and duck your head into any one of the great stores for local produce, gifts, surf wear or a good book to read.

You could park yourself at Settlers Tavern, try a pint of something locally brewed and order a generous and hearty lunch.

You could drive down to the River Mouth and, if you’re not completely uncoordinated like me, have a surf, then lie on the sand where champion world surfers like Kelly Slater have hung out during the famous Margaret River Masters surf comp.

Or … if you’re me … you cram as much food and beer into that 4 hours as you can …

Stop #1 – Margaret River Dairy Company | Bussell Highway, on your way south towards Margaret River

Margaret River Cheese Shop … the more quaint one

Beer and Cheese are just meant to be. There was no way I was going to just drive past without stopping and the best thing about the Margaret River Dairy Company, apart from yummy cheese, is that they give you two shots at making sure you get some. Both shops are on Bussell Highway, admittedly one is pretty big and the other is a quaint little shop but as long as there is cheese I’m not complaining! I always seem to go to the second shop; it could be because I like the country-feel of the smaller shop or, more likely, I fail to stop in time for the first one.

My normal purchase is the $30 pack which consists of Water Crackers, Marinated Fetta, your choice of Cheddar, Brie or Camembert and a choice of one of their Farmhouse Cheeses. Great gifts if you can resist opening them and diving head first into cheese-topia.

This time I changed things up and opted for some others that I had not eaten recently, selecting some Emmental, Double Cream Camembert, regular Camembert and Baked Ricotta. Beer and Cheese night at the house will be happening shortly!

Hand picked and soon to be devoured in a beer + cheese frenzy

Stop #2 – Colonial Brewing | Osmington Road, Margaret River

I arrived before the lunch rush and, since it’s school holidays, managed to avoid lots of kids running around being human trip hazards. After a short chatter with the brewers Mal and Sorcha, I started to feel guilty as I was doing nothing and they were hauling kegs around so I thought I’d better make a move. Of course I had to try the Kolsch before departure which Sorcha poured for me and I was much appreciative. They are using a paler malt now and it’s getting closer to Mal’s experience of a true Cologne (Germany) Kolsch. Delicate and citrusy, it was indeed very good! The Baltic Porter, or “balty” as Mal referred to it, is very close to release, give it another couple of weeks and keep your eyes on Facebook.

Colonial Brewery … Baltic Porter coming soon!

Stop #3 – Margaret River Venison Farm | 5103 Caves Road, Margaret River

Margaret River Venison Farm

I had intended on going from Colonial to Cheeky Monkey Brewery & Cidery. I took Cowaramup Bay Road (that would end at gorgeous Gracetown) and approached Caves Road. I knew that if I turned right I would be only a few kilometres from Cheeky Monkey however signage told me that if I turned left it was a mere 3km to the Margaret River Venison Farm. I thought about their Coat of Arms Chorizo and turned left whilst trying not to drool.

I walked out with a small selection of goods with the idea of meat + beer buzzing in my head and wondered what would match with Emu Ham, Coat of Arms Chorizo (Kangaroo and Emu) and Smoked Beef. I gotta get myself to the International Beer Shop sooner rather than later!

Meat, glorious meat …

Stop #4 – Cheeky Monkey Brewery & Cidery | 4259 Caves Road, Margaret River

Sitting down to a middy of their Old Reliable Classic Pale Ale meant I had now tried all the Cheeky Monkey beers on offer. I also got to meet and chat with “Red”, the Head Brewer and it was well over an hour later before I stopped inundating him with questions. Poor guy.

The Pale Ale, nicknamed amongst staff as “space monkey” (check out the graphics to see why) was great with well balanced hop bitterness and nice biscuity notes. Had I not been driving I would have easily and happily indulged in a pint. There are plenty of ideas of the next few single batches, or “Brewer’s Choice” releases so its well worth keeping an eye out for those on their Facebook page.

And that was my afternoon, back home in time to walk the puppy and cook some dinner and wonder why we didn’t move to the South West sooner!

Cheeky Monkey Brewery & Cidery
Margaret River

Here’s a rough map (i.e. please don’t use it in lieu of proper directions!) of my afternoon …

girl + cheeky monkey

A visit to the newest brewery to call Margaret River home – Cheeky Monkey – with a brief stop over at the first – Bootleg – and that’s what I would call a pretty successful day!

4259 Caves Road, Margaret River
Open Daily from 10am – 6pm
(08) 9755 9555

I appear to be developing some sort of animal theme with this post and the earlier one about Mountain Goat but we won’t focus on that …

Cheeky Monkey Brewery & Cidery is the latest edition to the growing number of craft breweries who call the Margaret River, predominately known for being a wine region, their home. They opened in early May after a few hurdles regarding fears of yeast contamination with neighbouring wineries but judging by their Facebook page and the many happy smiling faces I saw, they have been a welcome addition to the region.

Last weekend my boyfriend and I decided it was about time to check it out so we jumped in the car and headed towards Margaret River. On the way we realised we were coming up on Puzey Road and the irresistible allure of a stopover at Bootleg Brewery was too much to refuse!

We couldn’t have chosen two more different Bootlegs to indulge in. Whilst my boyfriend opted for his favourite, Black Market IPA, I went for the new Bootleg Apple Cider (5% abv); it’s crisp and bitter and very Granny Smith apple and it might seem strange but one of the things I liked the most was the fact it wasn’t overly carbonated, making it easy drinking rather than feeling full from just a glass. The Black Market IPA, as always, was as good as ever.

The two extremes of Bootleg – Black Market IPA pint versus Apple Cider middy

With a visit to the first microbrewery in the Margaret River wine region under our belts we did a hop, skip and a jump to the newest – Cheeky Monkey Brewery & Cidery.

It was apparent when we drove in that we would need to park in the overflow parking. Having parked a fair distance from the brewery, a few things became apparent. There are a couple of compulsory items when you have a brewery in the South West – 1. A body of water and 2. A children’s playground. I don’t disagree with either of these – both make complete sense, it’s just funny how they have become mandatory items. Cheeky Monkey’s aquatic effort also has a little jetty that seems to attract kids out to stare down into the water. On this particular day it was also the home of just one little duck; we jokingly wondered if we would find that his friends had found themselves as part of the menu.  The Cheeky Monkey playground doubles as a landmark; its big and green (didn’t mean to make it sound Hulk-like) and easily spotted as you drive along Caves Road. Its a whole other world in there for the kids to get happily lost in.

Yep – that’s one big playground!

We hit the bar and were promptly served by a very friendly guy named Rob. We confessed to being first timers and a good chat about their beers started. I liked that he didn’t default into new-customer-tell-them-about-all-beers strategy, instead asking us about the beers we were keen on trying or wanting to know more about. It was a conversation, not a staff member talking at us.

Not the same sort of monkey bars I played on when I was a kid

We were going to be having lunch so I decided to start with a Hatseller Pilsner (4.8% abv), made with 100% New Zealand hops, to work my way into something bigger with food. Rob gave us a taster first and we were surprised at the big characters, much more going on than your regular run of the mill pilsner, a characteristic Rob put down to the beer sitting for two weeks on yeast, allowing it to develop more complexity and depth. It had some nice citrus and fruit notes with a strong crisp, bitter finish; I was very pleased with my first Cheeky Monkey brew. My boyfriend drove head first into the Hagenbeck, a 5.8% abv Belgian IPA; although considering he started on Bootleg Black Market IPA I guess it wasn’t that big a dive! Made with Belgian yeast and dry hopped, it was a nice divergence from the mostly American styled IPAs that have been dominating our fridge. There was some nice banana aromas and flavours, spices that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, and strong tropical hops.

Hatseller Pilsner & Hagenbeck Belgian IPA

Like the other breweries I’ve visited recently it’s a service style where the bar is for getting your drinks and there is a separate counter for ordering food. It does mean that the time between ordering your beer and taking a gulp is no longer than 60 seconds but the wait to order food, during peak times, is a much longer. Whilst I am not necessarily an advocate for this style of service, it’s not all doom and gloom as the short wait allows me the chance to look around and absorb other parts of the venue and check out the food specials. I did, however, feel sorry for the customers I saw who had not realised they needed to know their table numbers.

Inside Cheeky Monkey
So that’s what the inside for a monkey looks like …

I had placed our food order so it was now time to chose our second round of beers. I went for the Traveling Monk – a mid-strength Red Ale, and my boyfriend couldn’t resist the ‘Brewer’s Choice’ Souther Wailer, a Black IPA. It’s the most cheeky of the beers at a belly-warming 6.4% abv, with pronounced roastiness and hop bitterness without drowning out the tropical fruit and citrusy flavours. Having now tried four of the range we agreed the Traveling Monk was our favourite. At 3.5% the Cheeky Monkey’s have produced an ale they say proudly follows in the footsteps of beers like Rogers’ Amber Ale (3.5% amber ale) and other similar styles to showcase that a big abv isn’t a necessity. The Traveling Monk boasts aromas of orange and hops, it’s appearance is nothing short of gorgeous deep amber and flavours of sweet malt, marmalade and fresh hops are delightful.

Food arrived and we tucked in to the three dishes we’d selected to share; they were all seafood as we have been doing a lot of home cooking lately, and enjoying every minute of it, so it’s important when we go out we order food we couldn’t make at home. With that in mind we chose the Marinated Fremantle Sardines, Squid with Wasabi Aioli and the Crab Bocadillo.

The Marinated Fremantle Sardines were a special for the day that we had chosen because the Chilli Mussels had sold out and it fitted with our seafood theme. They were beautifully marinated; the sharp flavours of the sardines going well with crisp spanish onion and peppery rocket, served on toasted bread.

Marinated Fremantle Sardines
with Rocket, Cherry Tomatoes, Spanish Onion on Toasted Bread

We both love squid and we both love wasabi aioli so it’s probably not a surprise the Squid with Wasabi Aioli was our favourite dish and we would have happily added more wasabi to the mix. Crispy coated squid with fresh lemon squeezed on, I know it’s not an uncommon dish these days but it doesn’t make it any less delicious. The squid was perfectly cooked and it was nice to get two generous wedges of lemon to squeeze.

Squid with Wasabi Aioli with Fresh Lemon

The Crab Bocadillos were interesting with the contrast between the crisp coleslaw and tempura battered soft shell crab.

It was also a little funny to be eating what is very similar to a burger and having little legs sticking out the side of it! The lime and pickled yellow chilli aioli added a very subtle tanginess to the dish that went really well with the crab. Whilst we enjoyed the Squid with Wasabi Aioli the most, we had the most fun with the Crab Bocadillos because you’re never too old to play with your food …

Being silly with Cherry Tomatoes

We were comfortable sitting outside and being a couple of big kids and I guess that in itself says a lot about a venue. What also stood out was seeing a couple of kids kicking a footy around and, perhaps inevitably, it sailed up and onto the roof. Perhaps ten minutes, if that, passed before we saw a guy with a ladder prop it up against the side of the building and retrieve it. From where we were sitting it wasn’t clear if he was a Cheeky Monkey employee or just a punter, either way, I think it says something positive about the venue. If he was an employee, to take the time to fetch a kids footy on a Sunday afternoon is pretty decent. If he was a punter I think it’s nice that no manager stormed out shouting things about occupational health and safety (though the ex-bar manager in me might see the situation alternatively ending with incident reports and a set of crutches but that’s mostly due to my own disturbing level of incoordination).

Our first contact at Cheeky Monkey, Rob, was knowledgable, passionate and friendly; if you ran a bar you’d want as many Robs as you could get your hands on. They are produced great beers, tasty food and all in a setting with lots of different seating styles for your mood or occasion. I will happily be going back to Cheeky Monkey soon to try the Pale Ale ‘Old Reliable’ and the ciders that I missed tasting on this first visit. Oh and great name, love the name.

girl + beer … on location

Only in the South West could an attempt to catch up with a mate result in a day in a brewhouse. Mal is Head Brewer at Colonial Brewery in Margaret River and invited me to hang out in the brewery for the day whilst they brewed the next Limited Edition Colonial beer – a Baltic Porter. Due to release in late June/early July – start planning your South West getaway now!

girl+beer on location at Colonial Brewing, Margaret River

Friday 25th May 2012 …

Only in the South West could an attempt to catch up with a mate result in a day in a brewhouse …

I’ve spent many a happy conversation chatting with Mal, Head Brewer at Colonial Brewery at various beer events. At some of these events Colonial have been offering beautiful Western Australian oysters with their Kolsch and I’ve indulged in more than one (or five) at a time, shovelling them as elegantly as I could manage whilst standing up and juggling a beer.

Mal and I have been meaning to catch up over a pint for a while now so when I found myself with a Friday off I thought it would be a great opportunity. After all, who could refuse a Friday afternoon beer?! However my suggestion was nicely one-up-ed  by Mal’s invitation to spend a day at the brewhouse whilst they brewed the next limited release – a Baltic Porter. “Do you want to come and join in?”, he asked. I think my reply was “hell yes”.

I was excited … really excited. Mash in was scheduled for 8am and Mal gave me an open invitation to head over whenever. There seemed to be an understanding that 8am might be what I’d consider “violently early”. I really wanted to be there for the mash and my boyfriend pointed out that I’d be mad to miss it. I knew he was right so I set my alarm and dreamt a beery-sleep. It was still very dark outside when my alarm started making seriously unpleasant noises. It went off again after the factory determined “snooze” time was up and it was still dark and it was really cold and as you’ve probably guessed by now, I missed the mash in.

I arrived just after 9am after a quick read through my Oxford Companion to Beer to remind myself about Baltic Porters.

An English style, referring to strong Porter beers exported off to the Baltic countries such as Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.

Mal introduced me to his partner in brewing crime, Sorcha, and I proceeded to spend the day being either one of their shadows. I was encouraged to ask as many questions as I liked and, in most cases, needed because keeping up with brewer jargon in the wild is a little fast paced for this beer drinking gal. I’ve done a number of tours through breweries in my career – Matilda Bay, Gage Roads, Little Creatures, White Rabbit and Elmar’s in the Valley but it’s all surface stuff – here’s some equipment, here’s what is does, and so forth which is always great, don’t get me wrong, but compared to spending a whole day at a brewery … it’s the difference between listening to a CD and seeing the act live on stage.

The Colonial Baltic Porter will follow in the footsteps of earlier limited edition beers Keutebier and Mumme to continue the journey in old beer styles that have been a little neglected in recent times. Without concern for the latest trending styles or what Joe Bloggs is brewing down the road or on the other side of the Earth for that matter, Mal and Colonial are about beer styles that have captured their attention and, in turn, their desire to brew it for themselves. Colonial’s Limited Editions have gained significant momentum, flying out the door of the brewery, on show at sister venues The Royal and The Raffles and a few stray kegs making their way to like minded beer venues like Clancy’s Fish Pub Dunsborough and The Norfolk Hotel.

Having not brewed the Baltic Porter before the process was almost like baby sitting a small child, watching everything it was doing to make sure it was okay. It can’t be too hot or too cold or too thick and there was continuous testing. As the morning went on I had started to feel somewhat of a really incompetent stalker, following too closely behind poor Mal and Sorcha, so I volunteered to help with the testing. I was proud as punch as I stood in the brewery with a beaker of soon-to-be Baltic Porter in a small tub of ice water, swishing it around and watching the thermometer reach 20 degrees when it was ready for testing. I must have resembled some sort of mad Asian scientist, swishing a black liquid and smiling a slightly deranged smile. It’s a miracle I was invited back again or perhaps Mal was just being super polite.

The first step I got to see was the mash being transferred to the lauder tun. I peered in to see what was happening whilst the contents of the tank slowly rose as the pump worked diligently. That pump certainly had it’s work cut out for it with the Baltic Porter mash being a much thicker one than it had previously dealt with so we were on the look out for any signs of struggle. As the mash began recirculating Sorcha and I decided it looked a little like a cappuccino.

Now it was time for sparging. I used to think sparging was simply washing the mash with water from a thing that looked like an upside sprinkler. Whilst I’m not essentially wrong I did learn a lot more. Yes, it’s about washing the mash and basically making sure you’re getting the most good stuff that you can but it’s also a balancing act between too little, too much, too hot and too cold. There was more staring into the tank at this stage and without a functioning torch it was trickier but thankfully Sorcha had a back up – the iPhone Torch app. It was severely battery draining but turned out to be rather handy on this particular day. Oh and even now on reflection I still stand by my original thinking that the sparging bit looks like an upside down sprinkler.

Soon it was time for the almost-beer to move house again. This time from the lauter tun to the kettle, ready for the boil and the whirlpool. As it bubbled along I was once again struck by the intricacy of it all. Who’ve have thought beer was so sensitive? I mean I knew it was an art and I knew, in theory, that any number of factors could affect the final outcome but it’s really ANY number of factors, no matter how seemingly small. It’s crazy. As we watched the bubbles, monitoring what they were doing, Sorcha remarked it sounded like a babbling brook and from there we came up with the idea for a ‘Sounds of the Brewery’ relaxation tape. I think we were half serious; I’ll have to chat with her later to further develop the idea.

Now it was time for hops and so carefully measured doses of East Kent Goldings and Northern Brewer were thrown in for a nice hot bubbly swim in the kettle. I spent more time with my head in the tank and although I was blinking profusely as my contact lens’ struggled with the steam; I was also enjoying the aromas.

“Time for the messy part” I was told. Sorcha and Mal played around with the forklift and positioned a big white tub under the gaping mouth of the lauter tun. Then a slightly scary looking piece of machinery with spinny things was wheeled in. The process I am poorly describing is the removal of all the spent grain from the lauter tun, ready to be taken away and eaten by the local cattle or, sometimes, pigs. Apparently pigs go nuts for it. Those crazy, drunken pigs.

Mal started up the machine and it was damn loud. He declared himself to be a gentlemen as he handed me his ear muffs for my already slightly deteriorated ears. The spent grain overfilled two of these huge tubs, hitting home again just how much of a bigger style the Baltic Porter is going to be.

Time for the whirlpool. The whirlpool removes all the hop fragments and other bits and pieces that don’t belong by whirling it all up into one mass of stuff called the trub. We had to listen out for the gurgling noises and I remarked how it sounded like a bath tub being emptied. From here it was time to cool things down and the heat exchanger quickly went to work since yeast doesn’t really like to be boiled. Fair enough too.

The first Colonial Baltic Porter was now well on it’s way to completion! It was time to celebrate and unwind with a little more testing, this time of the tasting variety …

The limited release beers I’ve tried in recent memory have all been big, hoppy American styles and I’ve enjoyed them all but, as a category, pale ale is wider reaching than this and Colonial Pale Ale is a great reminder to this. Inspired by German ale styles the Colonial Pale Ale is an Altbier, a type of Pale Ale, that is beautiful with great biscuity malt, peppery spice and medium body. The background for Altbier evolves from older German ales, like the Keutebier style which was Colonial’s last limited release, with the name “alt” meaning “old” being a relative term to when lagers were gaining in popularity.

Next up we tasted the Kolsch and although by strict definition a true Kolsch is brewed in Cologne, Germany, there are a couple of great Australian breweries producing their own Kolsch style beers. I’ve enjoyed countless Colonial Kolsch pints and it’s always a sensational beer exhibiting great balance in spiciness, bitterness and hoppiness. I also love this style because it’s a great one to recommend to people who are tipping their toes in the water of craft brewing. When I was working at Five Bar we recommended it to a bunch of fellow hospitality folk and they drank us out of both the Sunner Kolsch, from Cologne, and 4 Pines Kolsch.

The final taster was the Colonial Porter, a fittingly dark number to end the day on with coffee and chocolate delivered with medium body.

I left Colonial with a massive smile on my face, as I normally do anyway, and a far better understanding of the beer making process. Mal and Sorcha were fantastic hosts, as well as Sarah in the bar for making me a great coffee and Adam in the kitchen for an epic fish burger for lunch. Be sure to look out for Colonial’s next Limited Edition – Baltic Porter – due to land in late June/early July. What a perfect excuse for a winter South West getaway, huh?

Colonial Brewing | Osmington Road, Margaret River
Open Daily 11am – 6pm