For a beer lover, Freo is the place to be. It all started back in 1984, when the Matilda Bay Brewing Company, led by Phil Sexton and mates, launched Australia’s first craft brewery, the Sail and Anchor or the ‘Sail’ as the locals call it.
The Sail is still the best place to sit by an open window or up on the balcony and enjoy an ale while watching buskers outside the Fremantle Markets or the activity on the Cappuccino Strip. The choice of craft beer is unbelievable, with forty cold taps, three hand pumps and four bars.
Just across the street you’ll find the award winning The Monk Brewery and Kitchen. They opened their doors in 2007 and the craft beer industry call the Monk the educational grounds for new brewers in WA. They offer an informal tour of their small batch brewery where they create their craft beers and farmhouse ciders every week day at 11.30 am. Best to give them a call in advance to secure your place.
We grabbed a tasting paddle and made ourselves comfy in the bustling outdoor area. The paddle gives you a taste of their core range plus the latest seasonal brew. Look out for their Belgian Rye Dubbel being launched in spring (the use of rye is a first for The Monk).
A short stroll across Esplanade Reserve (also the location for the Fremantle BeerFest in November) and into Fishing Boat Harbour we head to Little Creatures. It was the next adventure for Phil Sexton in a move that challenged the dominance of the big brewers. Phil opened Little Creatures Brewery in 2000 in what was an old crocodile farm. Fremantle’s legacy as the birthplace of Australian craft beer was secure.
As soon as you set foot into Little Creatures the whiff of hops and shiny beer tanks really get the taste buds tingling for one of their famous brews and they definitely love to experiment.
For would be beer aficionado’s Little Creatures run their own beer school every month (usually mid-month on a Wednesday 6.30 pm-9 pm) and, wait for it, it’s free! You‘ll learn from their chief hopheads about the brewing process, sample all kinds of beers and they even shout you a couple of bowls of frites at the end.
An enviable selection of quality craft beer, and particularly Western Australian craft beer (either bottled or on tap) has become the standard in restaurants and bars and more so in Fremantle, the home of the craft brew. There is one place that stands out with its range and connection to WA craft beer. Clancy’s Fish Pub on Cantonment Street was the first pub to stock craft beer in Freo and has always been a strong supporter of the small independent brewer with an impressive choice of taps!
There must be something in the water in Freo (or the beer perhaps)? It’s hard to beat the satisfaction that comes from a pint of an old or new favourite in Fremantle.
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