From the craft brewing scene sweeping one of WA's (Western Australia's) most established wine-growing areas, to the raffish port town where Australian craft beer first began, this compact itinerary also takes in hip and happening bars and breweries in exciting Perth.
Let's kick off this Western Australian roadtrip at one of the country's best and most awarded craft breweries. Located in a rural setting and framed by Australia's iconic eucalyptus trees, Feral is renowned across Australia for their mighty Hop Hog Pale Ale, but it's only at the brewery that the full excellence of Feral can be experienced. Sit on the shaded deck and order a tasting rack including some of Feral's more innovative brews. Watermelon Warhead is a wheat beer enlivened with the juice of local watermelons, while Barrique O'Karma is both a great play on words, and an IPA fermented in French oak wine barrels.
There's more award-winning action a short drive away at Mash Brewing – their Copycat American Pale Ale has been judged Aussie's best beer – and the brewery's hip industrial space is hugely popular with Perth locals happily making the 30-minute journey to the leafy Swan Valley on weekends. Other standout beers at Mash include their Freo Doctor lager – named after the Indian Ocean breezes sweeping into nearby Fremantle – and Australia's only certified Abbey Ale, crafted in collaboration with Benedictine monks at the New Norcia monastery around two hours northeast in the rugged West Australian bush.
The Swan Valley is also a major winemaking area – other flavourful attractions include artisan chocolate, cheese and olive oil – and the region's newest craft brewery shares a stunning location with Mandoon Estate winery. Before trying Homestead's beers you'll need to overcome the considerable distraction of Mandoon's award-winning Bordeaux and Cabernet-Merlot blends, but let’s prevail. Warmed by southern hemisphere sun on the restaurant's spectacular deck, Homestead is also where you should eat in the Swan Valley. Team the Japanese spiced squid and wasabi mayonnaise with the Kaiser's Choice Hefeweizen beer, or visit on a weekend and relax in Homestead's leafy beer garden.
Housed in the restored State Treasury building in central Perth – itself another location for excellent restaurants including the authentic Thai street food flavours of Long Chim – Petition Beer Corner is quite probably one of Australia's coolest beer bars. Wonderfully spacious with high ceilings and loads of natural light, Petition's 20 taps dispense mainly western Australian craft brews, but it's also possible to order any beer in smaller 150ml tasting glasses. For the curious travelling beer fan, that's the perfect opportunity to try seasonal and one-off beers from smaller and often hard to find WA breweries like Artisan, Rocky Ridge and Blue Mile.
Now it's time to move on to Perth's newest craft beer emporium. Also packed with good cafes and restaurants, the city's inner suburb of Leederville is an excellent base for exploring the region's brewing scene. It's a short hop to the central city or Fremantle, and some of Perth's best Airbnb listings are in the neighbourhood's heritage villas. A short walk from Leederville's Oxford St restaurant strip, Nowhereman Brewing partners wood-fired pizza with beers including the punchy Fearless IPA and a Belgian-style saison. You could also check out Nowhereman's Instagram feed to see what classic albums are being lined up for the evening's entertainment.
Across town in the emerging foodie neighbourhood of Victoria Park, Dutch Trading Co is a stylish collection of retro furniture, bearded bar staff, and hipster bar snacks including karaage fried chicken and brisket and kimchi burgers. Just like scores of other cool spots from Shoreditch to Seattle you say, and you'd be right, but the Dutch Trading Co adds a laconic and laidback only-in-Australia vibe. Factor in beers from local breweries like Nail Brewing – their hoppy Nail Red Ale is an Australian classic – and you've discovered one of the city's best bars. And in the unlikely event you're still hungry, it's just metres to good restaurants serving burritos, Spanish tapas and Asian dumplings.
The Australian craft beer scene actually kicked off in Fremantle 30 years ago – Aussie beer fans of a certain age still get misty-eyed at the mention of legendary brews like Redback and Dogbolter – and the classic Victorian pub where it all started is still one of “Freo's” best places for a frosty pint. Celebrating a corner location amid Fremantle's well-preserved 19th-century townscape, the iconic Sail & Anchor has two bars packed with taps dispensing WA beers including the well-established Feral and Mash Brewing, but also up and coming smaller operators like Innate Brewers from South Fremantle. Try their Pale As Bro Kiwi Pale Ale packed with hops from across the ocean in New Zealand.
Across the road from the Sail & Anchor, The Monk is Fremantle's best spot to watch the passing action along South Terrace, the port town's main drag. Partly due to Italian immigration in the 19th-century, Fremantle's has excellent cafes and restaurants, but if you prefer a lager over a caffe latte, The Monk's the place to be. Try a six-beer tasting paddle, or a cider as The Monk also makes some of Australia's best ciders, and if you're there on a weekend you might see hordes of locals wearing purple and white. Say “g'day” to fans of the Fremantle Dockers, the town's beloved AFL (Australian Rules) football team. Just go easy on them OK, as they've had a few lean years success-wise.
Not many craft breweries can claim they're housed in a former crocodile farm, but Little Creatures' cool oceanside space did indeed house dangerous reptiles until the local brew was launched in 1997. Little Creatures' pioneering Pale Ale helped cement Fremantle's role in the genesis of Australian craft beer, and while the brewery is now owned by multinational Lion, the fruity and hoppy brew is still tasting great. Check out their expanded range under the White Rabbit label – including good Belgian-style ales – and ask for a table near the water to relax into a perfect Indian Ocean sunset.