Feral Brewing’s brewpub, around 20 miles (30km) outside Perth, could be ripped from the dog-eared posts of the How To Build A Brilliant Brewpub guidemy blog: there are lots of taps, including core beers and brewpub specials; the tanks are behind the bar; there’s a blackboard beer list, with growlers and bottles to go; there are T-shirts for sale; and there’s top-quality bar food—some of the best you’ll find in brewpubs anywhere. Outside there are lush gardens within the 11 acres (4.5 hectares); there’s loads of space for kids and adults to run around; there’s an outdoor bar, with a food truck that cooks burgers on the barbie at weekends; and there are grapes, fruits, veg, and herbs growing in the gardens. The brewpub is spread out in the red-dust ruggedness of the bush, where it feels loved and lived in, a little busted at the sides, but dented with good times and good memories. It’s a great Australian backyard, with one of Australia’s great breweries in the middle.
Visit Feral’s Swan Valley Brewpub The Aussie Backyard On The Edge Of The Bush Photo Gallery
The liquid significance of Feral begins with Hop Hog, a strongish, American-styled Pale Ale. It was first brewed in 2008—nine years after the brewery was founded—and was inspired by brewer and owner Brendan Varis’s trip to San Diego, where he drank Ballast Point’s Sculpin IPA. It wasn’t just the way the beer tasted; it was that if you had an immaculately balanced beer, then it could be an everyday drink, even if it was hoppy and strong by Aussie standards. When Hop Hog was released, it was the hoppiest beer in Australia; it remained the hoppiest, regularly available beer in Oz for many years, having the same huge hop impact of beers like Sculpin, only reining in the alcohol to 5.8% ABV. If Little Creatures showed Aussies what US hops could taste like, then Feral taught them to love big, hoppy brews. Hop Hog is an outstanding Pale Ale. Clean, bright, and fresh, with oily oranges lacing the beer with a richness of hop flavor; there’s a dryness that highlights some pithy hops and some subtle savoriness—it’s a proper West Coast US brew made near the west coast of Australia.
Following the success of Hop Hog and their other beers, in 2012 Feral added a production facility midway between the Swan Valley and Perth. There they brew and package their core range of beers, leaving the brewpub for the small batches and fun stuff. At the brewpub you’ll find everything, from Bavarian-esque lagers to IPAs to fruited sours to big Imperial Stouts. Their other hoppy brews include War Hog, a bold, bitter, bright, and beautifully clean IPA with a load of powerful citrusy hops, and B.F.H, a barrel-fermented Hog, creamy from the oak, which lends a smoothness to the brashness of the citrusy hops. On the sour side they utilize barrels from their setting surrounded by vineyards and their best-known brew is Watermelon Warhead, a sub-3.0% ABV sour beer, aged in wine barrels and using the juice from visually imperfect watermelons grown by a perfectionist local farmer. It’s tart, tangy, and complex from the barrel and limitlessly refreshing from those watermelons.
Feral were one of the first Australian craft breweries and they remain one of the best. Their Swan Valley brewpub is a perfect encapsulation of Aussie brewing, all with the atmosphere of a great Australian backyard. It’s an ultimate destination brewpub—something Western Australia has a lot of with Little Creatures (see post 170) and the highend Margaret River brewers (see post 167). Go to the brewpub and drink their exceptional Hop Hog—the beer that made Australia love hops.
WHAT: Feral Brewing Co.
HOW: Open Sunday to Thursday, 11am-5pm, and Friday to Saturday, 11am-late (www.feralbrewing. com. au).
WHERE: 152 Haddrill Road, Baskerville, Perth, Western
Good Aussie and Kiwi Pub Grub and Beer Matches
* Fish and chips is a staple, along with burgers, in Australia and New Zealand. Often the fish is beer-battered, typically in something pale and hoppy, which leads you to the best match: a zesty, punchy Pale Ale.
* Chicken Parma is an Aussie pub classic. It’s a flattened, breaded chicken breast topped with some sliced ham, tomato marinara sauce, and cheese, and it’s always served with chips and salad. Go all-Aussie with the pairing and pick a local Australian-hopped Pale Ale.
* Calamari, often Asian-influenced with five spice and salt and pepper, is a snack on most menus. The fragrant spiciness is great with a hoppy NZ Pilsner. You’ll also often see huge green-lipped mussels on Kiwi menus. Pilsner and Wheat Beer are the top beer picks for these meaty mussels.
* Kumara is a Kiwi sweet potato, a little more textured and creamier than regular sweet potatoes, and makes amazing chips. A smooth Stout is the best buddy of a kumara chip— though, as with all chips, they work with all beers. Always take the “upgrade to kumara chips” option in New Zealand.
* Lamb is big in New Zealand, and chops or steaks are found on many menus. I always like Saison with lamb, with the dry, peppery spices being a nice match for the meat’s richness.
Is Feral’s Hop Hog Australia’s most influential craft beer? It’s definitely one of the tastiest.