Feeling thirsty? Not for long! These five spots along the Great South West Edge combine local brews with local views, for an afternoon drink that looks as good as it tastes.
1. Cape Mentelle, Margaret River
The list of excellent wine experiences on offer in Margaret River is ever-growing, but a visit to Cape Mentelle is a worthy stand-out. One of the region’s “Founding Five” wineries, Cape Mentelle produces some of area’s most acclaimed wines, which you can try at the brand’s equally tasteful estate.
Whiz past gnarled old vines on the winding road to the cellar door – don’t mind the giant cinema screen (public outdoor movies are screened here during summer) – and meet a highly specialised guide like Julie Royle, who’s been giving tours here for more than a decade, for a tutored food and wine pairing in the Cabernet Cellar.
This is where the label’s flagship cab sav was once stored, and with rammed earth walls and vintage barrels, it’s quite a sight – but there’s more. Sample gourmet nibbles and sip on Cape Mentelle favourites while getting a flavourful education in how to match wine with food when you return to your own kitchen. Wait for the “aha” moment when buttery oyster mushrooms, topped with truffle oil and parmigiano-reggiano, are paired with a tannic shiraz – you’ll see what you’ve been doing wrong all your life.
2. Jarrah Jacks
Jessica Mitchell is both smiling host and chief beer-server at Jarrah Jacks Brewery, her tiny-but-mighty brewery in the pretty town of Pemberton. Perched atop a picturesque hill, inside an acclaimed winery, Jarrah’s is the ideal place to settle in for the afternoon.
Order a beer paddle – featuring six brewed-on-site varieties – and relax on the wooden balcony, schooner in hand, for a few hours of roo-spotting and people watching. The pub food is as generously portioned as the beer paddles, and a lovely accompaniment to views across the lake, vines and rolling hills below – and is there anything better than a huge bowl of crunchy potato wedges and a set of relaxed shoulders?
3. Boston Brewing Co
From the outset, it’s clear Boston Brewing Co in Denmark is one multi-talented venue. Arrive and you’ll be greeted by a charming outdoor beer garden, garnished with twisting vines and fairy lights, which leads the way to a warehouse-style shed. Inside, you’ll find young, friendly staff scooting around pleasantly humming tables with laden trays of upmarket pub food.
Yes, there’s beer brewed on-site (it’s also canned right next door) but wait, there’s more – the entire wine list is grown and bottled in the area, too. Kids can run wild outside in the kids’ playground (complete with an adult-sized ‘Basketball Connect 4’, a game invented by the brewing team), adults can kick back by the outdoor stage where concerts are held year-round and, just for good measure, there’s a small vineyard on-site too. Not bad for a start-up that only opened in 2011 – and did we mention the topnotch beer?
From the outside, with its heritage balustrades and imposing cream pillars, it looks like an Art Deco courthouse. From the inside, it could be your great grandmother’s kooky Victorian manor. However you look at it, Albany’s favourite bar-cum-restaurant, Liberté – with its stunningly good French-Viet-fusion food and roster of warmly chatty staff – is a great night out.
Run by one of WA’s rising kitchen stars (the chilli crab and garlic noodle toss is a Gourmet Traveller top 10 dish of the year), it’s the kind of place that attracts every walk of life; accordingly, half the town can be found socialising here, cold-drip negroni in hand, on any given evening. Find your perch in the landscape of velvet and chesterfields, and settle in for a night of great food, great drink and great people watching.
5. Lucky Bay Brewing
Locals Nigel Metz and Robyn Cail founded Lucky Bay Brewing in their Esperance front garden in December 2015, but the plucky little business – while still run out of their yard – has flourished into a bona-fide brewing operation. Pull up a pew at one of the wooden picnic tables – most painted in the distinctive aqua colouring of the brand’s labelling – and sample the four- or seven-strong beer paddle from their growing flavour selection.
All beers are named after local spots, like the Cyclops, a huge dumping wave that calls surfing pros who come to conquer it, and Wharton, a witbier named after the correspondingly bright sands of a nearby beach. Bring a picnic, or some kids, or a dog, or all of the above: like any self-respecting lifestyle business, Lucky Bay Brewing is only open from 2pm till 5pm, but on a good day the place happily buzzes like an inner-city pub.