On the back lawn of The Beerfarm, from the beer garden down a hill and into a large dam below, is a black rubber slip & slide, and it speaks volumes about this place and the clever brewers who are enjoying the ride.
The Beerfarm is a relatively new venture, a brewery and beer garden located among the much more established wineries of Margaret River, WA. A number of years ago a Sydneybased beer label started brewing at the site, but not too long afterwards, the current owners took over and went on to establish their new beer brand, ‘Beerfarm’. The 80-acre property was once a working dairy, but now the old structures have been reused, integrated and transformed into a boutique brewery and an eclectic venue.
You enter the space through re-purposed sheds, clearly agricultural but with a design eye and a craftsman’s hand giving them a new life. The original milking stalls are featured front and centre as you walk into the venue, a quirky memento of the past but also a reminder that this is still a working property and that nothing goes to waste. Further out the back, in the heart of the operation, the stainless steel brewing tanks are housed in a circular shed built on the foundations of the original cattle corral. On the roof above, a 12-pointed star is both branding and a reminder of the ever-changing nature of things, so we are told.
The Beerfarm cellar door is focused on a voluminous converted barn, with a long bar at one end and floor-to-ceiling doors along either side, opening onto decks and lawns and the landscape beyond. Picnic tables scattered about take in views of the surrounding farmland, the dam, and wooded hills beyond. It’s closer to a backyard than anything, and the patrons throughout make themselves at home. Kids play on the slip and slide or roll down a grassy hill, and there are more than a few dogs running between legs. There is an inherently relaxed vibe to the place, despite all the activity.
We get shown around by one of the brewers, Josh Thomas, who puts a beer in our hands as he talks tanks and capacities and ingredients. The ice cold IPA is a good classic drinking beer, but Beerfarm isn’t shy about experimentation. The brews on offer include a Pineapple Sour, fermented from the eponymous tropical fruit, the Shirazaweiss which uses local grapes, a Marmalade Saison and a Mango & Blackberry Belgian. Another offering is a seasonal and limited edition collaboration with WA’s travelling restaurant Fervor – a quandong and sandalwood beer. George Scott of Beerfarm says that the Native Series beers created with the famed nomad foodies came about after they worked side by side on an event: “We love what they do, what they stand for, and our brew team love learning about native ingredients.”
It’s clear that the beer brand and the venue are built on strong philosophies of teamwork and collaboration. When asked to expand on the nature of the Beerfarm team and their roles, George is clear that what they do is a team effort, and that old-school hierarchies have no place in their work.
The Farm itself is determined to be sustainable, both in its environmental impact and in the way it deals with the community. Product and ingredients are sourced from WA farmers, including their cider apples which come from nearby Manjimup. Local grain is used in the beer process, and the resulting waste is fed to the cattle that graze just a few paddocks over, which are in turn served up as steaks from the beer garden kitchen. Locals and tourists come to buy and sell at the twilight bazaar, eat from food vans, and there is a goal to run the entire venture by solar. There is a real sense of determination to do it differently and better, and to offer something unique and special in the process.
Watching the sun set over the trees with a glass of pineapple beer in hand, there’s no question that Beerfarm has created something worth taking part in.