Usually I can be heard kvetching about the fact that I am one behind Chris in our brewery count. It’s true, there are several things that bum me out about it. But there is also one big advantage: we each get our distinct moment in the sun when we reach a milestone. Chris had his 700th brewery visit at a place where drunken Australian teenage dreams are made. My 700th brewery day, on the other hand, had what “American beer tourists in Australia” dreams are made of.
We started the day with a visit to the Yanchep National Park. Since it was my day, Chris indulged me with an excursion to see if we could spot the elusive Red-tailed Black Cockatoo. As luck would have it, we were told that there was also a koala habitat in the park. (Koalas are not native to Western Australia.)
We arrived to the nerve-rattling stranger danger call of hundreds of Yellow-tailed Black Cockatoos (the more common cousin of the Red-tailed kind). Chris and I own two Conures and like I imagine it is between human moms and infants, we have learned the meaning of different squawks. So for me, it was alarming to hear the wild Cockatoos in such a frenzy. But their cacophony of ear-piercing screeches soon became background noise as we headed towards the koala area.
I don’t know what I was expecting, but within two minutes of entering the koala habitat, we spotted one. I guess I wanted it to take more time. Because if it took more effort, it meant something had really been accomplished. Nonetheless, as an American tourist in Australia it thrilled me to no end to see the gray, furry, quintessentially Australian animals lounging in the trees. And I do mean lounging. About the only movement we saw out of them was when one stretched his legs as he straddled a branch (which, by the way, was super cute!). Others curled up in little balls in the crooks of the trees. The only sign of life was the up and down movement of their round tummies as they breathed. If only life could be so simple…
As we wandered the “civilized” part of the park, we spotted gray-faced kangaroos laying in the shade and some birds, including the pre-historic looking Purple Swamphen, by the large lagoon. After a short time, we were ready to seek out what we had really come to see, the rare Red-tailed Black Cockatoos.
A sign pointed us to the 17.5 km Cockatoo Trail, so that’s where we headed. Obviously we weren’t going to walk the entire trail, especially because the temperature was in the high 30’s Celsius (near 100º F), but we thought we’d give part of it a go. A ways down the “uncivilized” dusty dirt road, however, we turned around. The wildlife, including the unseen snakes and the very much seen enormous spider, started to freak me out and it was hard to concentrate on the bird watching. I wasn’t too upset about our failed excursion, though, because I knew it was a long shot that we’d actually catch a glimpse of the elusive birds. I was ready for a beer anyway. We left the Cockatoo Trail without hearing even the slightest peep of a bird.
Aussie Karen (our GPS) lead the way to my milestone brewery, Indian Ocean Brewing Co. in Mindarie. We found the brewery amidst nice newly built townhouses overlooking a small dock area. On a Tuesday at noon, the brewpub was nearly empty, but that didn’t bother us one bit.
I sat at a table and anxiously waited while Chris ordered the taster paddle at the bar. I needed to drink the beer before it could officially count as my 700th brewery. I barely let Chris put the taster set down before I grabbed a sip of my first beer.
There were 4 beers to try: a White, Pils, Pale Ale, and Belgian Blonde. I admit that the White and Blonde, both with the same distinct flavor (most likely from the yeast), were not our favorites and the Pale Ale was unusually malty. However, the Pils was solid and we both chose a pint of it to eat with our lunch. The kitchen was closed for renovations, but the pizza oven was fired up and all the pizzas on the menu were only $10. It was the least expensive meal of the trip.
As an added bonus, Rusty Creighton (who had alerted us to the magic of Gnomesville) surprised us with a visit. It was great meeting him in person and it made my 700th brewery visit that much more exciting and memorable.
After lunch, we bid good-bye to Rusty and made our way to a nearby beach. This was our last chance to wade in the Indian Ocean. The water at this beach was a bit more turbulent than we’d seen previously, but it did a good job of cooling us off. The water whirled around my legs and I felt the sand giving way under my feet. I have always loved the ocean, but somehow I felt more connected to this one than I had ever felt before. It was probably because I was, in fact, closer to it. Due to the warm temperature of the water, I could actually stand in it without my toes going numb.
Afterwards, we made a repeat visit to Feral Brewing Company in the Swan Valley town of Baskerville. We had had an amazing time a few nights before when we celebrated our friend Todd’s birthday and wanted to make a second visit before leaving the area. A description of our experience that night will help illustrate why we felt absolutely compelled to make a return visit.
Feral’s Chef Mitch had put together an amazing 5-course beer-infused dinner for Todd. It kicked off with a selection of beer-cured meats served with spent grain bread and hop butter and finished with Feral’s tiramisu made with their Imperial Stout, Boris. In between, we dined on a green papaya salad with prawns poached in Golden Ace, a Belgian Pale Ale, roast rack of pork with roast wort potatoes, and cheese served with hop honey and “beerguette.” Plus, each course was paired with one of the brewery’s tasty beers. Absolutely phenomenal!
We may not have dined on another mouth-watering meal during our second visit, but we did get another chance to sip on the Feral White, a refreshingly citrusy Witbier.
Our evening concluded with a Tweet-up, attended by Feral’s Chef Mitch, Swan brewer Justin (mentioned in Chris’ blog post about his 700th brewery visit), and several Aussie beer bloggers at Five Bar in Mt. Lawley. It was a very hip place with something for everyone — couches, high bistro tables, bar, and tiered deck-like area with pillows to lounge on. Most people in our group enjoyed Feral’s Hop Hog from the cask, but I broke ranks and drank a few beers from Victoria, including the Golden Ale from Two Birds and Kooinda Boutique Brewery’s Valhalla Golden Ale. It was our first opportunity to meet some of Western Australia’s beer community, as well as our last chance to hang out with Todd. Such a wonderful way to end an amazing day!