Wednesday 7 September 2016

Ferguson Valley Breweries

If you have been reading our blog over the past 6 months you will have read out posts about Gnomesville and Wellington National Park. The Ferguson Valley where these two places are nestled in, is about 40 minutes from Bunbury where we have been based for the past 6 months and so before we hit the road again we did one more trip out there. With beautiful, green, lush, rolling hills, surrounded by farmland and forests, with spectacular scenery, it truly is a gem of a spot to visit.

On the agenda this time was to visit Bonking Frog Wines, Wild Bull Brewery, and Moody Cow Brewery. There are 14 wineries and another 2 breweries/ taverns in the area but most are only open weekends so we had not had the chance to visit them as I was working weekends, but at least we finally were able to get to some before we left the area.

We kicked off the day by saying goodbye to the people in Bunbury we had house sat for and headed for Bonking Frog Wines at Dardanup. The reason, more than any, was because the name was unique. They specialise in Merlot. An interesting story here was they had first hand experience with bad publicity can be good. Once a journalist was offended that the name reminded him of frogs having sex. He wrote a big article about his offence which worked the opposite for what he was hoping as it got people interested in the name, got the name out there, and more people started visiting this small, boutique winery.

Next on the agenda we visited the Wild Bull Brewery. It was a very busy Sunday afternoon, but the staff were kind and found us a seat, as we were only planning on drinking some of the beers, and not eating, however a quick review of the food that we could smell and saw coming out, it looked like good pub grub. I did not realise they had a tasting paddle, but they did, so we ordered one. On the paddle was a Pale Ale, at 4.8%, Pilsner 4.8%, Indian Pale Ale 4.7%, Lager 4.8%, Black Angus 4.6%, and an alcoholic Ginger Beer.

On the Wild Bull Brewery Website there is a description of each of their traditionally crafted beers, what I am about to write is simply my opinion upon which there is no right or wrong. One of the beers that I wanted to try was not available on tap on the day, but that was replaced with the Indian Pale Ale. The Pale Ale was nice. The malt taste smooths out the hoppiness. The Pilsner reminded me of Corona with hints of citrus, easy drinking and refreshing. The Indian Pale Ale reminded me of a Matilda Bay beer called Minimum Chips, classically hoppy as you would expect from an IPA, bitter and fruity, it was not bad. Nothing really stood out to me with the Lager. Lager is what is the most common beer that is drunk across Australia so if you are not feeling adventurous in tasting something new, stick with the Lager. The Black Angus smells good like freshly brewed coffee. I get confused with stout and porter, because to me they are similar but it was referred to as a porter. It has a sweetness from the malt combined with the coffee / burnt coffee flavour. The Ginger Beer I don't really have much of an opinion on. Back in 2012 Cameron and I brewed our own Ginger Beer and I haven't tasted any that even come close to how good it was. Last year we visited the Bundaberg Barrel where we tasted their flavours of soft drink, but were impressed with the ginger beer which is the only company in Australia that is still traditionally brewed. We regularly buy it. The other companies use a cordial base for their products. When we tried the Ginger Beer here, immediately we could taste the cordial flavour, which may have been brewed to add alcohol to it, but it had nothing on the Bundaberg Ginger Beer, or our alcoholic Ginger Beer. Other people may like it, but my taste buds have been spoilt.

As with the Wild Bull Brewery, the Moody Cow Brewery was busy but the staff managed to find us a seat, (it is easier when there is only the two of us). There was a big outdoor area that was shaded with trees and with ample grass for children to run around on. They also had a tasting paddle, but I knew this already as the website says and this we had planned to eat lunch here. I had fish'n'chips and Cam had a burger since they were sold out of parmies. It tasted nice, and was a decent size. On the tasting paddle here was a Pale Ale 4.6%, Rusty Nuts 6.6%, Simply Red Irish Ale 4.7%, Ferus Dark Ale 4.2%, White Cloud 4.4%, Zest 3%. Like before, this will be my personal opinion, and on the website there is a description of the beers. I will say this though, we liked the selection of beers from the Wild Bull Brewery better as they were smoother, and the strong taste of hops and the burnt after taste were far less noticeable, but we are allowed our opinion as is everyone.

Whilst drinking the Pale Ale the flavours seemed quite disjointed, very strong smell and taste of hops, bitter after taste. The next was the Rusty Nuts was smoky which is an unusual taste for a beer. Compared to the Pale Ale, it was a far smoother beer. I like Irish beers, so the next one Simply Red Irish Ale was quite enjoyable. It had a nice creamy top, was a little bitter, had a strong after taste, but overall it was nice. The Fergus Dark Ale was next, and to me it was similar to Tooheys Old which is also a dark ale. I enjoy dark beers whether ale, stout or porter, so I liked the Fergus Dark Ale. Whilst drinking the White Cloud I was instantly reminded of the Lemon Lime and Bitters drink, very refreshing. Zest was a finisher, when I read the description I thought this is the drink that would taste like what White Cloud did, but this was far sweeter, I could smell citrus, but it also smelt like a lolly shop where all the different sugars and flavours combine and it's hard to pick out a distinct smell or flavour. It smelt nice though and a good finisher.

All three places had a great atmosphere, beautiful scenary, friendly staff, and are three places I would recommend to visit if you are in the Ferguson Valley. To end our day we revisited Gnomesville, went to have a look at the King Jarrah Tree then spent our first night camping at Potters Gorge.

It is great to be on the road again, and after all of the rain we had whilst in Bunbury it was made even better having the sunshine out and feeling the nice warmth that spring brings with it. Happy Travels. Jeni

(Sorry for the lack of photos. Our computer is playing up. We will add the photos in a couple of weeks. Keep a look out on our Facebook page, and we will let you know when we have added the photos.)

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