Episode1. Beaches and Breweries. Duckstein Brewery Margaret River

Duckstein-brewery-margaret-river

You’d be mistaken if you think that Margaret River is all about wine. Of course it is in one sense but there’s a growing boutique beer brewing industry that is not only close-knit but also creative, and very popular.

Breweries in the Margaret River Region

  • Duckstein Brewery
  • Eagle Bay Brewing Company
  • Colonial Brewing Company
  • Bush Shack Brewery
  • Cheeky Monkey
  • Bootleg Brewery
  • Cowaramup Brewing Company
  • Occy’s Dunsborough

Each brewery is different, not only in setting  but also in the beers they produce which might range from pale ales and pilsners to preservative and additive free brews.

duckstein-brewery-margaret-river

Bettina, the Duckstein Brewery Margaret River restaurant manager.

You’ll find breweries a little more casual than the wineries, and they are the sort of places where you feel it’s ok to come off the beach for a beer and lunch dressed in a pair of shorts, with sand still between your toes. I’m not saying you couldn’t still do that at the wineries, but you probably wouldn’t want to.

However, Smith’s Beach is a gorgeous sandy beach close to Duckstein and it seemed a shame not to go for a quick walk to watch the surfers on the big breaks out at sea.

Duckstein-brewery-margaret-river-smiths-beach

But I digress. Let’s start at the beginning …

Heading South in November

Peppermint trees are in bloom and there’s a white hue to their olive green leaves as we head off south along the Bussell Highway for a belated anniversary celebration, on a quest to discover more places to wine, dine and recline in the beautiful Margaret River region.

After a quick stop at the beautiful Palmer Wines cellar door where we buy a bottle of bubbles, we have a quick look around the grounds. Palmer Wines was established in 1977 as one of the pioneer vineyards in the Margaret River region and here you’ll find a pretty dam, and a barn-like cellar door with an adjacent restaurant that’s set in a courtyard straight out of a scene from Tuscany.

palmer-wines-margaret-riverThen we mosey on to Caves Road to our first Brewery for lunch.

Duckstein Brewery

If you look at Duckstein Brewery as you’re driving along Caves Road you’ll see a modern building and a dam. “Oh, nice”, you might think, but I have to admit in the past I’ve thought, not exceptional and haven’t been tempted to actually go in.

Which is a shame, because Duckstein is exceptional from the flower filled entrance and the Saracen statues to the winding drive that meanders up a slight incline and which is in season lavender lined and absolutely gorgeous to look at.

From the car park you’ll walk past more statues and water features, lily ponds and landscaped gardens until you reach a huge and very impressive door that leads into a large open double aspect area of baronial proportions, which on one side looks over the lake where there’s a verandah with seating jutting out over the water.

Duckstein-brewery-margaret-riverBeer and Wine

There’s a huge stone feature fireplace with a stainless steel surround, and we vow to come back in winter and bags a place on the couch by a wood fire to sip beer and read the Sunday papers, or perhaps we’ll taste wine because as of July 2013 a wine bar has been introduced which features 10 different producers from the Margaret River region.

This means that if you’re not so much of a beer fan you can sip wine and have a cellar door experience before either buying a bottle to have in the restaurant or purchasing some to take home.

Duckstein-brewery-margaret-riverBut really, I have to admit, it’s all about the beers.

“We offer German style beers which include 4 house beers – A Pilsner, Hefeweiss, Altbier, and a Dunkel. We also produce a seasonal ‘Fest’ Beer and a seasonal Single Vat beer, and we offer a local Margaret River cider as well,” Sam Vinton-Boot the General Manager tells me while keeping one eye on a very busy restaurant.

I look across to the huge panes of glass behind which, and on display within the restaurant itself, is an operational 1000L brewery. It’s impressive and feels a little industrial, giving the restaurant space a feeling of added purpose.

Duckstein-brewery-margaret-river

“We make our beers using the German principles, using a range of imported malt and hops from Europe, and Australia to make the beer as authentic as possible. We use rainwater and that’s why they taste so good. There are no preservatives or additives,” Sam explains.

The restaurant has a 500 seating capacity and booking in advance is recommended at weekends, although a certain number of tables are held back for walk-ins.

Weddings at Duckstein

Wedding ceremonies and wedding receptions are catered for, often on the idyllic island in the middle of the lake which is connected to the main property via a bridge. For the bride and groom you have to think that there are great photo opportunities everywhere you look at Duckstein.

Fast  Facts

There’s live music at the weekends in summertime.

There’s a designated playground for children, and lots of space for them to run around.

Menus change with the seasons and produce is sourced locally. Portions are generous. If you’re hungry have the Schweinshax’n pork knuckle – it’s humungous! The menu offers a range of Australian standards such as Fish and Chips (with flaky pilsner batter) or Char Grilled Black Angus Sirloin with sweet paprika chunky wedges, heirloom tomato and gorgonzola salad, and German classics such as the Brewers Pan with bratwurst, smoked kassler, chop, potatoes and sauerkraut.

Duckstein-brewery-margaret-river

We had the bread and dips followed by a Duck Salad; crispy skinned breast on cous cous salad with honey glaze pumpkin, Swiss chard, Danish feta and roasted cashews. And the Wild Mushroom Strudel with goats cheese and spinach, rocket. walnut salad and beetroot chutney.

I’m not generally a beer drinker but having sampled Duckstein’s tasting tray I’m converted. Watch out hips, times they are a changing because I’m particularly fond of the Hefeweiss, unfiltered wheat beer with hints of banana, clove and vanilla.

Duckstein-brewery-margaret-river-jo-castro

Tasting Tray for  4 or 5 beers  … $12 or $15 (November 2013 prices)

Duckstein rocks, it’s buzzing, it’s happening. We liked.

You can find it at 3517 Caves Road, Wilyabrup, about halfway between Margaret River and Yallingup. Disclaimer: My lunch and tasting were complimentary.

Want to know more about beer? Here’s an interesting article from the Huffington Post : 29 Things you should know about beer

Part 2 of the Beaches and Breweries series, will feature a gorgeous overnight retreat, the best beach to visit for a sunset and top places to eat around Dunsborough. Part 3 will feature a fabulous micro brewery, a gourmet lunch and some of the best beaches in the region.  If you’re lucky there will also be a Part 4 – watch this space.

Where in the world is your favourite brewery?

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Comments

  1. Mike says:

    Oh wow so many breweries to choose from, Johanna! I enjoy a nice glass of wine too so sign me up either way. The food looks amazing too. I just got home from work and now I want to go out on this journey you just took me on in the post. Fantastic photo of you by the way! :)
    Mike recently posted..My Top 10 +1 Favorite British ActorsMy Profile

  2. Thanks Mike, and yes we are so lucky in this region to have a prime area for both wine and beer – and of course lots to choose from. Not much good for the midriff though!

  3. Rae
    Twitter:
    says:

    I think a girls weekend is in order, we just need to find a driver xxx Rae
    Rae recently posted..My Mojo is Temporarily Out of OrderMy Profile

  4. What a great idea – and yes a driver with a sense of humour who’s signed the ‘pledge’ would be a great addition, Rae!

  5. Neva Fels
    Twitter:
    says:

    What a talented drinker you are! Just kidding. In Utah, there are many small breweries and the clever names are hilarious. Wine and beer are best remembered by the creative names.
    Neva Fels recently posted..Witches, Turkeys and Owls at the HouseMy Profile

  6. Ha Ha Neva! Yes, this region of Australia is certainly refining my drinking skills it must be admitted! [I think it's time I wrote a few hiking pieces!!] I’d love to visit some of the breweries in Utah one day, and you have me intrigued with the clever names you mention. Thanks for popping by today for a taste of Margaret River :)

  7. Choosing one would be hard for me as well. My newest discovery is called Magic Hat #9 from South Burlington , Vermont. I had to try it when a waiter described it as “probably a little too good” and suggested maybe I shouldn’t try it. Of course, then I HAD to try it, and I concur… Yummy! Apricot wheat ale. What’s not to love?
    Taster trays are fun, aren’t they? The food and atmosphere look amazing, as well. Cheers!
    Mary Martin recently posted..Day 21 – We made it to the Final Day of the ChallengeMy Profile

  8. Christin Svard says:

    Hello Jo.
    Just thought I touch base to tell you that I love your travel articles.
    You are an inspiration to me I just Want to travel all THE places you are describing.
    I hope that In THE future I get some more time to enjoy your Creative workshops and Ctually write something more myself.
    Say hello to Deniae for me too if you see her.
    I am just abit busy at the moment.
    Enjoy your travelling and writing keep feelding us with more.
    I LOVE IT?
    All THE best from Christin Svard

  9. Leigh
    Twitter:
    says:

    You seem to have it all in western Australia – beer, wine, beaches, amazing food, great scenery. I need to visit – and even more so as I just had a friend over who has come back from the Perth area. She had a fabulous time and her descriptions as well make me want to go. I’m not a beer drinker either but maybe I’d become a convert too.
    Leigh recently posted..PEI 2014 – It’s Party Time and a Great Year to VisitMy Profile

  10. Why Thank You Christin and thanks for taking the time to comment! It would be lovely to see you at another of my workshops soon, and to chat some more about your interesting life too :) I’ll say Hi to Denise for you too:)

  11. I think, like me, it would be hard for you to resist our local beers, Leigh. Hope you make it to WA soon :)

  12. Apricot wheat beer sounds like a winner Mary! Yes, tasting trays for me are more fun than say, a big glass of beer!

  13. Muza-chan
    Twitter:
    says:

    Great place, I wish to visit someday :)
    Muza-chan recently posted..Tokyo Shinjuku, street scene after sunsetMy Profile

  14. Hi Jo, I’m so jealous. You have all the fun stuff in your backyard – wineries, beaches, gourmet food and breweries! I’m not into commercial beer but I love micro brewed beer. That tasting tray rocks! Hefeweiss sounds yummy. Looking forward to the gorgeous overnight retreat post. I feel jealous already,
    Marisol@TravelingSolemates recently posted..The Mystic of Prayer Flags and Prayer WheelsMy Profile

  15. I know we are very lucky Marisol, and I although I often have to remember to count my blessings – blogging about WA certainly keeps reminding me of what an awesome place we live in. I’m glad you’re looking forward to the next post, I don’t want to make you jealous, but I hope to entertain you :)

  16. Oh, thanks for popping by Muza-chan – glad you enjoyed it :)

  17. Fantastic, informative post, Jo. I visited Duckstein Brewery a few years ago whilst holidaying in the Margaret River region. I loved the beautiful gardens and sitting out on the deck eating and drinking – it was so relaxing. Your post brought back some great memories.
    Carolyn recently posted..Don’t be caught out by scammers when travellingMy Profile

  18. we certainly are spoilt for choice in Western Australia’s south west corner Jo.
    I am looking forward to a few trips “down south” over the summer months – actually any time of year is perfect!
    Life Images by Jill recently posted..Quandongs – delicious Australian bush foodMy Profile

  19. Hi Carolyn, great that the post brought back good memories of a beautiful place for you! Hope you get back this way again in the future.

  20. Jill, you are such an avid wanderer into the hinterland, that I think a few easy day trips down south are on the cards for you this summer!! Enjoy :)

  21. You are really making Western Australia sound fantastic. I’m actually beginning to consider it for an April trip because you are selling it so well. I can’t wait for Part 2!
    Michele {Malaysian Meanders} recently posted..Little India Preps for DeepavaliMy Profile

  22. Wanda says:

    Oh my…this post makes me want to throw it all in the air and dash south for who knows what! Such fabulous looking food, and great sounding beer to soothe one’s soul. Thanks for all the great tips! We’ll be keeping this post close at hand.

  23. Ha Ha, I know Wanda … it’s a place to run for when the going gets tough in the real world!

  24. Ha Ha Michele – then my job is done! Only joking! We love it, and I just can’t help but share what we enjoy or find appealing, so I really hope you manage to get over in April to see for yourself :)

  25. I’m not much of a wine or beer drinker but I love going to wineries and breweries for the ambience. This is my husband’s kind of place though. Thanks for sharing more of this beautiful part of Australia. Looking forward to Part 2 of the story.
    Mary {The World Is A Book} recently posted..The Beauty and Serenity of the Byodo-in Temple in OahuMy Profile

  26. Yes, the ambience is always the other part of the experience, Mary, and they are all so different. Part 2 has JUST been published. Hope you get to it and like it :)

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