Arrivals & Departures When your nearest and beerest drop in for a drop

SIMON COLLINS takes a tour of the State's vibrant craft brewing drawcards

So you’ve got friends and family visiting. And they’re thirsty. Very thirsty.

Whet their whistle with a crawl through Perth’s incredible craft beer scene, which ranges from family-friendly pubs to microbreweries catering for those who like to be challenged by their brew.

Start where it started: the Sail & Anchor in Fremantle. The South Terrace pub still pours Matilda Bay’s famous Redback wheat beer, arguably Australia’s first boutique brew, and polarising Munich dark lager Dogbolter.

Fremantle truly is the crucible of craft with Little Creatures going strong nearly 20 years after opening their spacious brewery in a former crocodile farm. A top tourist spot, this port city institution delivers good grub and solid beers in a lively setting.

The new kid on the block is Freo.Social, which hosts 500-capacity gigs and food trucks. The real appeal to your seasoned beer snob are the taps in the microbrewery, which pour Otherside Brewing Co.’s impressive range of brews plus head brewer Rhys Lopez’s experimental offerings — there’s a new one each week.

You can also taste Otherside’s wares in their main brewery, just up Leach Highway in Myaree.

Proving Fremantle has the mantle for craft beer is the fact that there’s also the Norfolk Hotel, the Local in South Fremantle and Clancy’s Fish Pub for folk looking for good food, myriad beers and a laidback vibe.

Leaving Freo along Stirling Highway, there’s Rodney’s Bait and Tackle where you can try one of the rotating line-up of taps while leaning on a boat.

Perth boasts three of Australia’s best specialist beer bars, according to Bartender Magazine, which recently nominated Dutch Trading Co. in Victoria Park, Caboose in Mt Lawley and city haunt Petition Beer Corner in its annual awards.

You could also take your nearest and beerest to CBD beer and barbecue joint Old Faithful, Subiaco’s Refuge Bar, Scarborough’s El Grotto or Leederville’s 21st Amendment to try something fancy and frothy.

And let’s not forget Bob’s Bar, a rooftop bar owned by Margaret River’s Colonial Brewing Co., named in honour of the late, great Robert James Lee Hawke.

Housed in what resembles a big glass box in the heart of Perth’s late night entertainment district, Northbridge Brewing Co. has an equally daunting roster of beers on tap (most of them brewed in-house) plus fridges heaving with crafty cans and bottles. Their pub grub is also top shelf.

If those venues aren’t enough to sharpen the interest of the pointiest hopster, then take them right to the source.

Tucked away in West Leederville, Nowhereman Brewing Co. is an urban oasis offering tasty pizzas and even tastier brews.

Their tropical hop-forward Rhapsody XPA is a ripper.

Other microbreweries worth a detour include Blasta Brewing Company in Burswood (excellent value tucker and impressive beers) and Bright Tank Brewing Co. in East Perth (higher-end cuisine and very impressive beers). Take a hungry family to Blasta and your foodie friends to Bright Tank, where you dine right next to the shiny tanks.

And if you’ve got time to drive out to the Swan Valley, Feral Brewing’s brewpub and restaurant is simply brilliant.

There are beers that you can sometimes only get here, plus paddles of both their established range and more recent, more experimental brews across their ever-evolving 16 taps.

Grab a pint of their wildly popular Biggie Juice and head out into the sprawling gardens to soak up the sun. Just look out for the local geese.

These days WA’s South West is as much about grain as grape, with craft brewers planting their flag (and hop yards) among the wineries.

Rocky Ridge are at the forefront of craft’s State of excitement. Put simply: they make great beer. The fifth-generation dairy-farm-turned-brewery in Jindong has opened the Darleen’s Taphouse AND a “cellar door” in nearby Busselton. Both are worth swinging past on your way “douth”.

Since opening in February, Wild Hop Brewery has had hordes descend on its 20ha property off Wildwood Road, Yallingup. Like Rocky Ridge, this family-owned enterprise aims to be sustainable in its pursuit of inventive beers and seasonal food.

Heading into Margaret River and established breweries, such as Colonial Brewing Co., Eagle Bay Brewing, Cowaramup Brewing Company and Cheeky Monkey Brewery and Cidery fulfil their promise of keeping the masses fed and watered — with plenty of space and playgrounds for the kids.

A favourite source of southern comfort is the rustic Beerfarm, which pumps out great beers including the hop-laden India Pale Lager (the black version is a winner), Pineapple Sour and happy accident Shirazzaweisse. There’s also pinball and arcade games, and room to run amok.

Once the breweries shut for the day, Margaret River Brewhouse, Settlers Tavern and The River continue to pour regional craft beer and turn out tasty tucker in the centre of town.

Further south in Denmark, Boston Brewing Co. offers a two-for-one deal. That is, in addition to trying Boston’s highly regarded range (especially their Afterglose raspberry gose and Devilslide red IPA) and enjoying their extensive playground, the venue also hosts Artisan Brewing, which specialises in Belgian-style fine ales.

Beer lovers’ cups runneth over. That’s the good news.

The bad news is, as tour guide, you’ll probably also end up being designated driver. Better stick to mid-strengths.

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