Sail & Anchor Hotel

The Australian craft beer movement was kick-started at the Sail & Anchor Hotel in 1984 when the first house-brewed ale flowed there. Phil Sexton and his partners in the Matilda Bay Brewing Company were building the country’s first ‘boutique brewery’ at Nedlands, but they weren’t having much luck getting any pubs interested in committing to buy their beer, so they bought their own pub. As Sexton tells it, the Freemasons Hotel in Fremantle was in liquidation and it was about the only place they could afford at the time. While the main overseas-manufactured microbrewery was still ‘on the water’, they installed some basic equipment into the renamed Sail & Anchor and turned it into the country’s first modern brew-pub. For the record, that first beer was Anchor Ale – ‘a dark, copper-coloured, traditional ale,’ according to Sexton. A porter and stout followed soon afterwards and some six more house brews flowed before the Nedlands plant was up and running. But the Sail & Anchor was a highly successful shopfront for Matilda Bay, especially during the 1987 America’s Cup challenge. When CUB acquired Matilda Bay Brewing in 1990, the brew-pub was part of the package but continued to operate much as previously. Under the stewardship of Peter Nolin and Bill Hoedemaker, the brewery garnered many awards, most notably for their India Pale Ale, which is served under hand-pump. A few years ago, the Foster’s Group had a change of heart and sold off their hotel division to a joint venture between Woolworths and the Mathieson family. In early 2010 the new owners closed the hotel's brewing operations, though the house beers continue to be made elsewhere under contract.

House Style

The English-inspired ESB and IPA are the house specialities, with the Blonde a dim echo of the original wheat beer that morphed into Redback.

Signature Beer

Sail & Anchor India Pale Ale (under hand-pump)

Behind the Label

From the decidedly tatty Freemasons Hotel that Phil Sexton and partners snapped up in the early ’80s, the rebadged Sail & Anchor has undergone a series of refurbishments and personality changes. These days it styles itself as a ‘restaurant bar’, almost as if the iconic brew-pub has become passé or, perhaps, been superseded by Little Creatures on the waterfront or Madmonk, up the road a bit. But the house beers have remained a constant and the India Pale Ale, a highlight – bristling with hop character and poured from a hand-pump.

Contact Information

64 South Terrace, Fremantle 6160

Bar; restaurant


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