After our visit to the Bridge Road Brewery, we had free time. Most of us retired to our rooms, roamed the town or kicked handegg* till we were sore.
I had a constitutional after having pulled an all-nighter. I roughly recall being dragged out of our gorgeous accommodation to Ben Kraus’ pub the Tanswells.
In my somnolence, I’m not really sure how it happened but I ended up at Provenance. It wasn’t too far from Tanswells Hotel and Tristan had made the snap decision to call them to see if they had a table for two. They did. Being the consummate food blogger wankster that he is, Tristan ran back up that bloody hill to our accommodation to get his camera.
In contemplative solitude, what’s a girl to do but drink. I started with Poire William Bertrand eau de vie. It’s been way too long since I had pear (poire) eau de vie. I most certainly wasn’t going to drink any Bridge Road beer when I could get that from its maker direct, was I now? Great that they had it on their drinks list though!
I warn you in advance that this is going to be a very long post: Tristan had the omnivore degustation while I opted to have the vegetarian: I simply wasn’t in the mood for meat – yes, strange but true. I blame it on the pseudo-flu (or that ‘100 day cough’ as Ed called it) from which I still have not yet fully recovered, three weeks on.
The first course was the same for both of us – butter sautéed cauliflower, cauliflower purée, mustard sabayon, polenta shortbread crumbs and brown butter jelly. Yep, for a vegetarian course, it has a lot going on. Personally, I love cauliflower (though I suspect it may have upset my tummy later that night – it’s a gassy vegetable). I love its presentation – reminds me a little of a savoury version of Roelofs’ Cafe Rosamond edible sculptures.
Those wonderful but mad folks at The Local Taphouse in St Kilda decided to organise a road trip. Wonderful because they were going to hire mini-buses to transport those who were interested. Mad because that meant at least three of them had to abstain as our designated drivers (many thanks to Guy and Justin at the Local Taphouse, and Prof Pilsner because he’s all-round awesome!).
And so our Beechworth brewery road trip began. Pretty bloody awesome, really – you forked out $150 (a tad more if going as a single) for overnight accommodation in Beechworth to be entertained by the following beery itinerary: brewery, rest, pub, sleep, breakfast, brewery, home.
Our first port of call was Ben Kraus’ Bridge Road Brewery for lunch and beer as soon as we arrived. Cue thirty hungry and thirsty Ale Stars. It was agreed upon that we would all pay $16 a head for pizza which was absolutely delicious (hey, even the vegetarian pizzas were scrumptious!). Sadly, I think more than a few of us were a little underfed.
Quite a few of us were excited by the fact that the new seasonal beer, the B2 Bomber was on tap – a Belgian IPA that is dark in colour and just divine. Can they please make this permanent? If you can’t get to the brewery to have it on tap, check out The Crafty Pint to find out where you can enjoy it around Melbourne. Despite having tried it, I’m actually keen to fork out $30 for a limited edition 750mL bottle: word on the beery street is that this may be worth cellaring.
Ben Kraus, the head brewer, was behind the bar and served many of us before treating us to a tour of the brewery and give us a bit of a sneak peek into what goes on when you have your own brewery.
And machines that bottle!
If you’ve not experienced the aceness that is Bridge Road Brewery’s beer, here’s a list to get you started:
Bling IPA – I first had this number on tap back when my palate was still a bit wimpy with strong hop presence. However, in revisiting it at the brewery, its maltiness is way more evident. A most satisfying brew.
Robust Porter – oddly enough, as porters go, I don’t find this that ‘robust’. In fact, I find it quite muted in flavour. Still, it’s essential drinking from Bridge Road.
Chestnut Pilsner – don’t let it warm up! This is one of those beers that’s lovely cold but will leave you guessing…is that chestnut I can barely taste…is it a figment of my imagination? Wait…there it is! Naw, who am I kidding: I can’t taste the chestnut. Let’s have another sneaky pint and see if that’s more…’successful’ *giggle*
Chevalier Saison – the more I have of this, the more I love it. One of my fave posh thirst-quenchers – I mean it sounds fancy with the ‘Chevalier’ in the title, but remember, this is a humble farmhouse ale for the peasants. Mmm.
Honourable mention to the seasonals/limited edition…
B2 Bomber – quite plainly, you would be stupid not to try this while it’s around if you are even remotely interested in beer. I have one pint of this, and I want another but politely remind myself that I have to give the other beery children in the playground a chance to try this (and have to continue to educate my palate by trying other beers I’ve never had). Fellow beery blogger James does this beer more justice in words than I can at his blog.
Femme Fatale Ales’ Megachile Pluto braggot – assistant brewer Nardia (who is interviewed on The Crafty Pint) is actually responsible for this medieval drop which features lots and lots and lots of local (Beechworth) honey! A little stronger than your average beer at 10% ABV, it’s a tipple you might like to finish a night with. Honeyed, spicy warmth in a bottle.
To all those at the Bridge Road Brewery – thanks for your hospitality. If you care to read more detailed descriptions of some of the beer imbibed, you can check out this post where Ben’s brews were thoughtfully matched to specially prepared dishes.