Tag Archives: pub

a beery weekend begins

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.

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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.

There’s fermenters…

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And kegs…

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And machines that bottle!

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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.

Bridge Road Brewers on Urbanspoon

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the Moose & Mountie SpecTAPular

I hate being short. Especially, when at the bar, rude so-and-sos like the following push in and do this:

“I’ll have a Carlton Draught.”

“We don’t have that here.” the bartender answers immediately, a strain of annoyance in her voice.

“Um…” The man looks up at the board. He’s scanning for beers he knows the names of. “Just get me something similar to Carlton Draught then.”

I looked away in disgust. Yes, I was pretty dirty about the fact that this fucker pushed in and not only wasted my time but the staff’s time – Saturday night and the Local Taphouse was packed to the rafters. Unlike Mr Draught-drinker, I looked up at the board of nineteen beers from Canada in glee. Which one to try first? Oh, damn, some of them were already finished. That’s what I get for turning up late.

the passport to Canadian beer awesomeness

Two weekends ago, the Canadian Government consented to sponsor a Canadian beer festival held at the Local Taphouse in St Kilda. From midday onwards, you could get your pick of beers from the following breweries: Les Trois Mousquetaires, Le Bilboquet, Dieu du Ciel! and Le Trou du Diable (most of those are in French but Google Translate is your friend!).

A staggering number of social commitments on this day meant I only really got to dip my toe into the proverbial water when it came to sampling the bounty on tap. I didn’t even get to have poutine and it was on the bar snacks menu for the day! Sorry about my mobile phone photos – but slutty drunk twenty-somethings tend to think they’re being photographed when the better half pulls out his DSLR (true story).

bar snacks for Canuck SpecTAPular

My bar struggles aside, the atmosphere at SpecTAPular was fantastic. Here’s a few reviews on the beers I did get to try.

Dieu du Ciel! Charbonnière – a dark, smoky beer. The beer ‘passport’ says it’s an amber ale but I recall it being quite dark though it didn’t look as dark as a porter? Incredibly aromatic and very savoury. I couldn’t taste anything other than the smoke in this – no hops, no malt. It was just liquid albeit beery smoke!

Les Trois Mousquetaires doppelbock – can I have a pint, please! Strong, malty goodness. Dark amber in colour and a hint of sweetness.

Le Trou du Diable Baron Noir – so perhaps starting the evening with a smoked ale was not the most intelligent thing for my palate…because it left this Baltic porter tasting quite lacklustre by comparison. However, it was a smooth, slightly roasty porter. Next time Gem, leave the smoked beer for afterwards, gah.

Le Trou du Diable Impératrice – last beer for the night! An imperial stout. Full-bodied with a hint of choc.

A bonus review! This was on offer on the night, but had tasted it previously at the Australian International Beer Awards showcase.

Dieu du Ciel! Aphrosidiaque – an American stout laced with bourbon, vanilla and chocolate. Absolutely delicious. Yes, you may say it sounds too sweet and may reek of gimmicks but you’d be sadly mistaken. So balanced. Divine, really.

Check back for tomorrow’s post which will include thoughts about two of the other beers featured in the SpecTAPular, one being part of the official Ale Stars lineup.

more Canadian beer

A votre santé! That’s French for to your health, but you say it like we say cheers. Et merci beaucoup au gouvernement canadien!

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what the funny foreigner brought for Show and Tell

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I never had to do Show and Tell at school in England so when I first arrived in Australia, the concept absolutely terrified me. My dad didn’t have any cool stuff because he was a male nurse (explaining that to your racist and sexist classmates was a nightmare) and I didn’t have a photo of my Guyanese grandfather accidentally surfing a canal alligator (true story), which could have potentially saved me. All I had was a guidebook from the Greenwich Maritime Museum and most of the kids in my class didn’t like that history shit. Apparently, I was the only one who thought Lord Nelson’s single handle combined dining utensils contraption was cool.

Shandy luckily had no such problems last Tuesday at the Scottish ale themed Ale Stars. Back complete with jetlag, he had a damn fine Show and Tell in store for us. It all began with an adorable little keg of indiscrimate size. Let’s just say that there discrepancies between amount of liquid quoted and amount of liquid allowed. One could possibly argue that 2 + 2 = 5? Yeah, I’m being facetious, sorry.

The secret stash in question was Fyne Ales Highlander and it was indeed special. Not very carbonated as you can see for yourself in the glass – very little lacing. It felt very thin-bodied in the mouth. Slight hint of sweet fruit? I personally found it very hard to place but it was a very enjoyable drop. Cheers Shandy for the stash, it was most kind of you.

Fyne Ales Highlander

On this particular evening I drank a buttload of non-Ale-Star-specific beer and so decided to soak some of it up with some reinforcements from the bar menu – the chicken salad. Generous serving of chicken and leaves in a pastry case which you can then in turn eat. Pretty nifty idea. Incidentally, the last couple of sessions, Ale Stars has had more than just pizza on offer during the tasting – now we’re getting croquettes, bread and dips, some addictive chicken thingies. The nibbles have stepped up a notch ever since Feral Brewery came to town.

chicken salad

First official beer to start post-minicask smuggled treat was the Innes and Gunn original. It was mentioned that this might be similar to Young’s Christmas Pudding Ale. It smells very vanillary and sweet in the glass which is a natural flavour from the oak barrel the ale is aged in. If you like gentle notes of rum, raisin and toffee then this is the beer for you. This was very well received by the Ale Star crowd as it’s pretty yummy. I’d love to drink this again and will definitely get some in the future if I can find it.

Innes and Gunn original

But why the clear bottle? Surely they can’t be as daft as the makers of the much maligned (and rightfully so) Coldie? Not to panic, beer nerds – it’s too malty and doesn’t have enough hops for the beer to go stale.

The second beer was probably my least favourite out of the four – True South’s Wee Jimmy Scotch ale. We were warned to let it warm up a bit to experience its flavour at its best. It wasn’t unpleasant but the idea of smoked peat malt doesn’t get my mouth watering. It’s not bitter (it shouldn’t be due to very few hops present) but it’s savoury in a weird way. Rich-bodied and very dark. Please note, I don’t think this is a bad beer, it’s just not to my personal taste. It’s also not strictly Scottish (gasp!): True South is out in Black Rock in Melbourne. Woo hoo, another brewery fairly nearby to visit in the future.

True South Wee Jimmy Scotch ale

The third beer was BrewDog’s Paradox Isle of Arran, a Russian imperial stout. Phwoar. It smells goddammed awful but tastes anything but. I found drinking this to be a more satisfying experience compared to their equally monstrous Tokyo stout. This is pretty fecking alcoholic at 10% ABV but the alcoholic taste doesn’t detract from the rest of the flavours of the beer, which is why I think I prefer this over Tokyo. The Paradox has a rich, full body and is very pleasurable to drink with notes of chocolate and typical stouty goodness with spikes of whisky. More, please.

Brew Dog Paradox Isle of Arran

We end the Scottish ales showcase with another wee heavy beer…from Belgium: Brasserie d’Achouffe’s McChouffe. Sounds like a sneeze, innit? This one was an odd ball, as one might suspect from a Belgian-made Scottish-style beer. Its smell reminded me of a lambic (which is not a particularly pleasant smell) – sour. It’s alcoholic-strong and yet appears watery as if the flavours of the beer are diluted. I know it sounds odd but it was confirmed by at least one other person. Also, are gnomes Scottish?

Brasserie d'Achouffe McChouffe

Before I finish, one last beer – the Cascade First Harvest. I’m not quite sure why I was so enthusiastic about trying this because to be blunt, it was pretty bloody awful in a commercial beer kind of way. I had to look longingly while my partner in crime got stuck into a glass of Brewboys Ace of Spades stout.

Brewboys Ace of Spades stout & Cascade First Harvest

Thankfully, I also got to try: Brewboys Maiden Ale, Double Dog Double Pale Ale (phwoar, hoppy!), Murrays Sassy Blonder and even managed to cadge a Mountain Goat IPA off Shandy at the end of the night. Yes, it took that much beer to wipe the trauma of the First Harvest from my palate. Well, I thought it was a good excuse anyway. As always, Prof Pilsner had his report on the night up way before me, and you can take a gander here.

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