After a night in Perth, our Western Australian travels continued in nearby Fremantle. Known as “Freo” in Aussie-speak, the city played an important part in Australian craft beer history. With its walkabilty and number of craft beer establishments, Freo seemed ideal for an Urban Beer Hike.
We had planned on four stops on our Urban Beer Hike but the weather, temperatures approaching 100°F and humid, forced us to be cautious and eliminate the one outlying brewpub. The remaining three stops were all located in historic, central Fremantle. In the end, it was a stretch to call it a “hike,” though we did walk a mile each way from our accommodations.
Fittingly, our first stop was arguably the birthplace of the Australian craft beer movement, Sail & Anchor. Established in 1984, the brewpub’s corporate parents unfortunately decided to cease brewing in 2010. The house beers are now contract-brewed and Sail & Anchor has morphed into a beer bar.
We grabbed a high table by one of the big open windows. It afforded us not only a view of the bustling street action but we also got to enjoy what little breeze there was in the stifling air. While we waited for the arrival of Todd from beermen.tv, Merideth and I each enjoyed a pint of beer.
Merideth went with the refreshing Feral White, while I enjoyed my first draft Bridge Road/Nøgne Ø India Saison, one of my favorite beers of the trip. Once Todd arrived, we downed a few pints of Feral Hop Hog, another “Beer of the Trip” candidate, before moving on.
Our second stop was The Monk Brewery & Kitchen. The four-year old brewpub has won a number of Australian International Beer Awards and it is also well known for its USA Craft Beer Week. We didn’t have far to walk as the Monk was literally across the street from Sail & Anchor. Merideth, Todd and I survived the short crossing and grabbed a table near the bar.
At Monk, there was the familiar Wheat, Kölsch, Pale Ale, Porter lineup that we had seen throughout our Australian travels. But to this they added the Rauch, a smoked beer. I have to say that I really wasn’t in the mood for a smoked beer, but it was well-crafted. The runaway star for me was The Chief, a 75 IBU American-style IPA brewed with Cascade and Citra. It tasted like home!
We were having a grand time at Monk until Todd mistakenly asked our Canadian waitress whether she was an American. It was clearly time to move on.
The longest leg of the day was a five minute walk to our final stop: Little Creatures. Walking across the Esplanade, we could hear a din of noise coming from the former cannery buildings that house the brewery and restaurant. Little Creatures was clearly the place to be.
Todd, Merideth and I waded through the thick crowd inside and made our way out to the back patio along the Inner Harbour. Somewhat to our surprise, the three of us easily found seats to enjoy a few pints in the sunshine.
One of the joys of beer travel is drinking beers only available at the source. So when Little Creatures didn’t have any beers available besides their regular lineup, I was admittedly disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, Little Creatures regular beers are excellent. My beer of choice (all during our stay as we would go to Little Creatures every day during our time in Freo) was the Pilsner while Merideth favored the Bright Ale, an all Australian hopped brew.
One of the more charming aspects of the Australian beer scene was its family friendliness. This usually manifested itself with a small playground where the wee-ones could entertain themselves while mom and dad had a few beers.
While Todd, Merideth and I were enjoying our Little Creatures pints, we noticed a large number of rug rats scurrying about. Turns out, one of the wee-ones was having her birthday party. I’m not sure the birthday girl chose Little Creatures for her celebration but I got a little pink cupcake out of it, so it was fine with me.
The following day, despite it being warmer, we embarked on a six mile round trip walk to visit the one outlying brewery we chose to skip on the previous day’s Urban Beer Hike. Our walk took Merideth and I through Fremantle to the less than scenic docks of its port. But just beyond the docks, we found our oasis, Salt on the Beach, home of Blacksalt Brewery.
After the three mile walk in the searing heat we were quite parched. The house-brewed beer was a very welcome sight. There were two beers on, their Weisse and Vienna Lager. I drank the German-style Wheat and would have thought it quite good except for a odd tinge on the finish. Despite this, the beer was greatly appreciated.
We had completed the task that we began the day before, but I couldn’t help thinking that we had somewhat missed out on a really fun Urban Beer Hike. Before heading back to Fremantle, we took a quick wade in the water to cool off before the scorching walk back. Maybe next trip, we’ll have weather more suited for a beer hike.