Swan Valley

Merideth and I found it hard to believe that we had reached the end of our second Australian beer adventure. We had only one more day in Western Australia before returning to Melbourne and our flight back to California. We were feeling a bit blue because we had such a great time on this trip. Luckily, we had a few more breweries to visit to help that end of trip melancholy.

Guilford's colonial gaol

For our final leg of our two week journey, we based ourselves in the market town of Guilford, east of Perth. Only a few miles from Perth Airport, Guilford was also our gateway to another one of Australia’s well-known wine regions, the Swan Valley.

Elmar's in the Valley

From Guilford, it was a short ten minute drive to Henley Brook. As we are apt to do, Merideth and I indulged ourselves in our tendency to be Germanophiles at our first stop of the day. Elmar’s in the Valley, not only offered us German-style beer, but also a menu of imported German food delights to match.

The brew kettle at Elmar's in the Valley

While we tried the brews on our sample paddle, we checked out the brewing kit. After visiting over 700 breweries, it’s somewhat hard to fathom that Merideth and I had a “first” at Elmar’s — a glass brew kettle, the likes of which we had never seen before. The largest of the kind in the Southern Hemisphere, the glass “enhance(s) the flavours and purity of the beers.” Maybe the most beautiful piece of brewing equipment we have ever seen, unfortunately, we didn’t get to watch it in action.

Lunch is served

There were four beers on the paddle including another first of the trip, an excellent Bock beer. However, Merideth and I kept the form we had all trip. Merideth really liked the Ein Stein Pilsener, while my star of the paddle was Kick Back Weizen.

The imported German sausages were very tasty, too. Merideth went with the regular Bratwurst while I had the smoked version. It seems silly to travel all the way to Australia to eat German food. But I guess that’s what it means to be a Germanophile.

Mash Brewing

Only a short way up the road was our second stop of the day, Mash Brewing. It was another scorching hot and humid day and Mash was not air conditioned. Plus, they were brewing! If we were going to sample beers in a sauna, we might as well be comfortable, so Merideth and I chose to sit in some comfy chairs near the bar.

Trying to keep the beer cool...

Mash didn’t have a sample paddle, rather they had a “tiny” size pour to go along with the half pint and pint. We ordered six of these beers. Starting with Freo Doctor, a Pale Lager, Merideth and I worked through their lineup of brews. Rye the Hop Not and Cascadian Brown Ale both were wonderful hopped brews but hard to appreciate given the conditions. Our consensus favorite beer was West Coast Wheat, another deliciously refreshing traditional Hefeweizen.

We really liked Mash and it would have been a nice place to spend the “arvo” (Aussie for “afternoon”) playing Scrabble. However, it was just too darn hot in there.

The creepy chef band at Duckstein

German for lunch, German for dinner. After a short break recovering from the sauna at Mash, we finished up our day at the Swan Valley location of Duckstein, the poshest brewery we had visited in Margaret River. The original Duckstein location was much more, for lack of a better word, normal. There as no reflecting pool with heroic horse or massive deck overlooking a lake. There was just a quaint beer garden and the same great beer. However, the moving puppet chef band, especially the one on the right who looked like an infamous terrorist, was really creepy.

The haxe at Duckstein

Merideth and I grabbed a seat out in their beer garden under the misters and out of sight of the chef band. While we enjoyed our Duckstein beers, Hefeweizen for myself, Pilsner for Merideth, we tried to play our last Scrabble game of the trip. But we were just too distracted as we had started to fall into full “about to go home” mode. When the game became a blowout, we quickly lost interest and packed the game away.

Instead, Merideth and I split a huge Schweinshaxe (pork knuckle), Merideth’s favorite German dish. As we devoured the succulent pork and drank our beers, we looked back on what a great two weeks we’d had in Australia. More important, however, we started talking about our next trip Down Under…

View all the Swan Valley images…

2 thoughts on “Swan Valley”

  1. You missed the best brewery in the Swan Valley. Ironbark brewery. They have a huge range of beers, normally in the teens.

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