For those of that don’t know Toowoomba it is one the largest inland cities in Australia nestled in the heart of the wonderfully productive Darling Downs. There are a bevy of small historical pubs scattered throughout the Downs and it’s been the correspondents subliminal intention to start reviewing those wonderful spots since our return from Zhongguo. A few beauties come to mind the Sandy Creek Hotel quite literally in the middle of nowhere, the Railway Hotel in Allora and the Karara Hotel the Nindigully Pub half way between St George and Dirranbandi which still has a hitching rail outside. Alas a New Years challenge and aspiration but more importantly back to T-bar.
The news has broken quietly this morning in the local rag, (the Toowoomba Chronicle) but the pensive anticipation of the page 3 story will have more than a few excitable!
This guy has been smart, he has been collaborating with a couple of craft friendly local pubs in particular The Spotted Cow aka The Spotted Bullock and seems to garnering support.
The mere thought of being able to sip a locally brewed craft ale during next years Carnival of Flowers procession down Ruthven Street conjures thoughts of an inland cultural Mecca – as the article suggest we’ve come a long way in the last few years.
In the true spirit of the silly season “come oh ye faithful ….” T-bar’s also the beneficiary of the first brand new privately funded airport in Australia with 11 direct flights to Sydney per week. Sounds like a sojourn in the making Sydney BotF’s …..
As is well documented, Sydney is being pummelled on a daily basis by afternoon storms. Storm clouds roll in at about three and Mother Nature goes beserk for a couple of hours, the skies clear and the cycle starts all over again. Yesterday, the weather was just crap from the start and for some time on this journey, we were forced on to the Side of the Ferry. This was disappointing as we had an all too infrequent induction ceremony to perform. The big boats are back in town, and we had the added bonus of racing the Pacific Jewel across the Harbour, which made for spectacular backdrops to our inductee photos.
Ultimately, we made it out Back just as we sailed past the Pacific Jewel, (which really needs a scrub). So to our inductee. Chesne lives on the insular peninsula, but too far away from Manly to grace us with her presence regularly on deck – but quarterly visits have been promised. To the questions:
Favourite beverage: Veuve Clicquot
Favourite sport to spectate: AFL
Area of trivial expertise: 80s and 90s music
Ceremony conducted by Don and Bladdamasta
Post ceremony function held at 4 Pines
I researched the Back of the Ferry site before I arrived, so I already had an idea of which best pubs in Hong Kong I should visit, which clearly included the Ritz-Carlton, Roundhouse, and the Globe, which had 2 Young Masters brews on tap. And then there was the challenge of finding something not already covered. No trip to Hong Kong is ever really complete without a visit to the Happy Valley race-course on a Wednesday night – it’s between between Wan Chai and Causeway Bay MTR stations, also close to Times Square – in the thick of downtown, there’s plenty to keep you busy (great shopping, restaurants, bars, etc) and the ambience at the races is always electrifying. It’s only $10 HKD to get in (you can use your public transport Octopus card) and the international lagers are some of the cheapest to be found in Hong Kong, a perpetual ‘happy hour’, all of which were better than the Godfather lager we had last night at JoJo’s ruby also in Wan Chai,
First stop at the other end of the race course (and before we actually went into the races) was the Jockey pub, which has a large selection of boutique beers from around the world, both in bottles & on tap. It has an Irish feel to it, and that was also reflected in the warmth of the welcome. Sadly, there’s no local beers. However, I choose Liberty Ale from San Francisco, whilst Rog goes for a Kiwi Monteith’s Original Ale. And they’re off!
However, as the race to try as many beers has already started, I wasted no time in heading conveniently right next door to the Grill, which had 6 local Hong Kong craft ales, sadly all in bottles – their taps selection was Guinness, Leffe, Chimay, Vedett, and Stella Artois. They had their licence revoked in 2013 but got it back last December – something to do with serving alcohol on the street outside, which they’ve obviously rectified since they still have outdoor tables, which were well served. Whilst perusing the menu, I also was not surprised to see the selection of bottled beers from my local brewery, St Peters. I started with an entry-level 4.6% Gambler’s Gold golden ale. Brewed by the Hong Kong Beer Company, the first chaps to start brewing in Hong Kong, whose own website advises that it’s “wonderful with the subtle flavors of local Cantonese dishes” – hardly surprising, as you wouldn’t want anything too strong in flavour overpowering the blandness of the beer. I polish it off and take on my next sample: Dragon’s Back Pale Ale, also brewed by the HKBC. The stakes aren’t good for HKBC at this stage, they’re already behind a furlong or two. Dragon’s Back is better. A little hoppy, maybe it’s an attempt to brew an American pale ale for the local Chinese taste, but HKBC certainly need to acquire a whip to encourage their head brewer to be a little more adventurous, especially since there are so many Belgian beers, for example, readily available and proven here.
The race continues into the wee hours tonight. Hopefully, we’ll find something decent.
Back of the Ferry loves its cricket. The first person I spoke to upon hearing the news of Phillip Hughes’ death was one of my fellow correspondents.
The reaction since has been amazing. Grief hits first, but then emerges wonderment at his life and his deeds, but more importantly his attitude to life. Phillip Hughes will inspire long after he is gone. Smiling, yet gritty resilience in the face of setbacks.
I visited Macksville* just after he’d been dropped. During the obligatory pub crawl, I admired a wall of newspaper clippings to the local hero. It’ll be a tough day up there today – and my thoughts will be there. Shed a tear, shed plenty, but then smile and celebrate a life lived well. That’s what I’ll be doing.
A short in situ post from the Back of the MV Freshwater. I picked up a trio of the newly liveried Cricketers Arms beers. I’m sure some of my check ins will be cancelled off @Untappd, but the Asahi owned Cricketers Arms label has updated their range.
There’s still a cricket theme. Keepers Lager – an El Blando lager replaces Mid On lager. Captain’s IPA is a straight relabelling of the Captain’s India Pale Ale. The new beer in the line- up which is apparently on tap is the Spearhead Pale Ale.
The Captain’s IPA is as useless as Michael Clarke’s hamstring. Pretty metallic and barely resembles the style it is claiming to be. Licky I’m drinking it in a beautiful part of the world.
The Spearhead is as penetrative as Ray Bright or any of the spinners that have had a turn of replacing Shane Warne. If this is your Spearhead – the opposition will be 2-400 at stumps on Day 1. Don’t like being critical, but this is an underwhelming trio. As I conclude this post the Spearhead is trying to break through, but it is a quaffer at best.
Manly’s northern neighbour is the suburb of Freshwater, formerly known as Harbord. Whilst Manly has been booming in the bar and restaurant scene of late, Freshwater’s been quietly accumulating new venues to the extent that you can now do a Freshwater pub/bar crawl. This corredpondent’s view is that a crawl is more than one venue. To do that in Freshwater, that used to mean the Harbord Diggers followed by the Harbord Hilton (see why I mentioned that Freshwater used to be called Harbord) or vice versa. Now the Main Street of the “villagey” Freshwater has three bars/cafes where you can grab a beer or cocktail and a nibble/feed – the crawl’s just gotten bigger.
The Bent Fork (not photographed), Two Ten and the relatively pioneering Stowaway are no more than 150m apart on the one side of Lawrence Street and offer their own take on the small bar/cafe bar concept. Anyway you look at it, Freshie’s offering up laid back options without the look-at-me-Manly approach to suburban drinking. My co-founding correspondent, illiards, has enjoyed dinner and an @untappd unique at Bent Fork, which ambitiously offers breakfast, lunch and dinner. I’ve had the brekky, which is just fine.
Two Ten is barely a couple of months old and offers breakfast and lunch. The booze list is tight, but you can’t go wrong with a couple of varieties of Endeavour. I’m a big fan of their Amber Ale – whatever the vintage. The complimentary olives will bring me back.
Both Illiards and I gave Stowaway a perusal in its early days. As has become an all to regular occurrence with BotF, neither of us blogged about the experience despite good intentions. Well, I’m blogging now and the rap on Stowaway is good. It’s a comfortable place for a quiet afternoon drink and chinwag (Obama’s expression de jour). The beer list changes and there’s a couple on tap. On the day of my visit Two Birds outstanding Taco was on offer. There’s so much that could be wrong with this when you read the label – but the two birds have nailed this. I think Sunset is a go-to classic, but if you want a treat – go a bottle of Taco.
Stowaway gets its food from next door (marilyna’s). It’s a good partnership. If the barstaff look like they’re leaving they’re just heading next door to get your food order. My daughter gave the chips a massive thumbs up and the daily specials should entice. The location of Stowaway doesn’t look glamorous, but once you cross the threshold you are in as good a small bar as any. If you are in the area – give it a go.