Beer Story: Bootleg Raging Bull

A closer look into beers that I love, the story behind their making, interviews with the brewer/s and whatever else I can find!

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?


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?


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?


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.

girl + (more) winter beers

It’s hard to just pick one, two or even three favourite winter beers so I am compelled to stretch this winter beers thing out longer by throwing out two more local beers that belong beside warm fires and good books …

Ah winter, the time of year when beer geek conversation turns from aggressively hopped American pales to dark malty beasts with punchy roast and chocolate flavours.

Last week I posted about two of my favourite winter beers which followed my radio appearance on Perth’s own RTRFM 92.1, I was kindly invited on a segment called ‘The Food Alternative’ and chatted with hosts Simon and Anth about winter beers.

If you’d like to hear me ramble on about winter beers you can check out the segment here

But me being me it’s hard to just pick one, two or even three favourites so I am compelled to stretch this winter beers thing out longer by throwing out two more local beers that belong beside warm fires and good books …

Bootleg Raging Bull

What a cheeky beast this one is! I remember chatting to brewer Michael Brookes (I’m such a name dropper!) a while ago and he was commenting on how Bootleg had been being for so long that now, since 1994, there are guys coming into their drinking years who remember their dads drinking Raging Bull at Bootleg. I reckon that’s brilliant!

Rich red fruits, chocolate, coffee, plums, spice and biscuits there is so much happening here it’s like a vibrant party but everyone dressed in black.

Bootleg Raging Bull
Bootleg Raging Bull

Eagle Bay Brewing Cacao Stout

Visiting the Eagle’s Nest, my article on Australian Brews News in 2012 on the first Eagle Bay Cacao Stout

First brewed in 2012 this collaboration brew between Eagle Bay Brewing and local bean-to-bar chocolate maker Bahen & Co has quickly become a staple of my WA winter drinking.

Bahen & Co Chocolate Maker | Margaret River | website

Using the cacao nibs from the chocolate making process, a by-product that would normally go to waste, brewer Nick puts it to good use in this gorgeous stout. It was even used in 2013 for the Eagle Bay and The Monk Brewery collaboration for the GABS festival that year – a beer called Cacao Cabana, a choc brown hefeweizen. But I am getting side tracked …

Eagle Bay Cacao Stout 2013 write up in Crafty Pint

The Eagle Bay Cacao Stout strikes a great balance of fruit, spice, fresh roasted coffee and, as one would expect, luscious chocolate.

Now before you throw your hands in the air in frustration because this beer normally doesn’t make it too far from it’s Eagle Bay home, I have good news for you. Such good news in fact I suggest your hands remain in the air and wave in excitement – this year, for the first time, Cacao Stout is making its way into BOTTLES! Keep your eyes peeled on the Eagle Bay eagle bay on Facebook and like, favourite and retweet Eagle Bay to your hearts content feed for more info in the coming weeks!

Eagle Bay Cacao Stout served at one of their Friday Night Feasts dinners – see their website for more information on these winter dinner treasures!