A busy night on the botf with a few new members to be inducted and a botf takeover of the full aft deck. Our first inductee;
Our second (very excited) inductee;
Over the years, the 4 Pines Keller Door has released some beers with some weird and wonderful ingredients. Chocolate Seaweed Porter, Porky Pig and Fig, Banana Bread and Espresso, Apple and Blackcurrant Crumble, Black Forest (cake) Imperial Stout and Cherry Pie Beer are some examples of the concoctions that have flowed from the taps both at the Manly base and around the country. It looks like they’ve let their imagination go beserk lately and they’ve promised a “series of ten cask ales each individually hopped to cocktail inspired ingredients”. The series is called the Spice Rack Cask Ales.
They’ve kept this pretty quiet and it was by accident that this correspondent pulled in last Thursday for a quick one and was able to partake in a pint of the first in the series. Now I’ve always ordered pints (unless someone can come up with a way to fit 568ml in a half-pint glass). I think, though with the challenging concoctions that the Spice Rack Cask Ales series will deliver, a half pint is the way to go. Number one in the series is Raspberry & Kafir (sic) Lime. From the first mouthful I was put off. Not sure if this was meant to be sweet or tart – I just found it in a no-mans-land and it was a struggle. A pint was just too much.
On my next visit, number two in the series had been tapped. I went for a half of Strawberries & Cream, which promised to be “just like the lolly”. I sipped with some trepidation – but this was a really pleasant surprise. There was a creamy sweetness – partly delivered by the smoothness of the hand-pull and partly by the essence of strawberry. There’s nothing cloying about this beer and it is extremely sessionable. One to get in for, as it looks like there’s only one keg of each variety. The kegs are lying in wait in a fridge at the 4 Pines and some of the names are intriguing (but I won’t spoil the surprise). Releasing ten hand pulled casks is a gutsy call by 4 Pines and good on them for challenging us. Looking forward to some more surprises.
In other Manly news, the Rubber Duckie Taphouse will be changing its name tomorrow night. From Thursday 28th, Murrays at Manly, which became the Rubber Duckie Taphouse, will become the Yardarm Taphouse. Unlike the previous owners of this venue, the new proprietors, Kevin and Jules, actually give a sh1t about their customers. They’ll give this a real crack, I reckon, and Manly will be the better for it. Would love to be there for the launch, but I’ll rustle up a couple of other correspondents to see if they can’t be there. One correspondent that won’t be there at the launch night did do a rather prescient write up a couple of months ago. Sandy – was this intentional?
|Your correspondent’s day job enables me to visit the birdcage at the thoroughbred races at Flemington in Melbourne once a year. For those who may be unaware, this is the annual look-at-me fest that occurs in a roped off section of the track full of sponsors marquees. There is little focus on the actual horse racing unfortunately and while the beer is free, it is bland. The birdcage is something to do once and, if you like to actually watch a race, I’d recommend you popout and watch from the rails.|
|Frivolity dealt with, we now come to the nub of this story. Two of the botf correspondents are regular visitors to Melbourne but rarely at the same time. The planets were in alignment with bladdamasta also at the races so after failing to pick a single winner we teamed up and headed to North Fitzroy. Like sweating gold sovereigns the botf correspondents extract the most out of every Melbourne visit by wedging in as many new venues and new beers as possible. First on the list this evening was the Fitzroy Pinnacle on St. Georges Road. This eclectic pub started life as Fitzroy’s land office, where locals would climb to the top floor and point out which plot of land they wanted. Now it stocks a small but fine range of Aussie craft beers, has a front bar like your Gran’s loungeroom and a homey, small beergarden. Standouts from the visit were the 2 Brothers Grizz Amber Ale and the Challenger English IPA by Mash Brewing. Definitely a worthy venue.|
|Next stop was The Gertrude in Fitzroy. On this correspondents last visit the venue was hosting ‘Dark Beer’ month and the hope was that something similar would be going on. We were in luck. It was ‘Weird Beer’ this time round and never was a title more apt. In a session over the pubs famous steak we managed a Killer Python Kolsch by True South, The Good Son by Dainton and, to top it off, a Blueberry Hefeweizen by Prickly Moses. The Hefe at first look could have gone either way, cringingly sweet or scowlingly acerbic. However, the scribes agreed and gave it 3 of a possible 5 stars. In our particular pantheon that is relatively high praise. I do believe we than proceeded to the well disguised Workers Club on Brunswick St but by then the weirdness had descended.|
There’s been plenty of articles written about the furore created by the label of Brookvale Union’s Ginger Beer, so there’s no need to go into much detail about that here. The Sydney Morning Herald, Australian Brews News and even the good folk at Food Magazine have it all covered. Long story short, Brookvale Union (aka 4 Pines) have absorbed the feedback of the worldwide Hindu community and swiftly undertaken to change the offending label. No sooner that news was out, I bolted up to the local bottlo and snaffled a bottle. Whilst I doubt that a stubbie of Brookvale Union Ginger Beer (Label 1) will ever command the same price as an unopened stubbie of Lion Nathan’s ill-fated Duff Beer – it is definitely a collector’s item and there’s still a few out there. Be quick.
By the way, it is a pretty good drop. Whether off the tap or out of the bottle, this is a refreshing ginger beer. It’s become my daughter’s tipple of choice when we visit the 4 Pines at Manly together. It’s a summer special and I imagine will remain a permanent fixture on the 4 Pines tap rack.
It’s been great to get out into Melbourne’s inner-city suburbia again, and BotF’s occasional Melbourne guide and inductee Cam covered himself in glory with his latest two selections. His two choices on this particular evening really showed why Melbourne is still the place to go when it comes to bar and beer experiences.
His first choice was inspired. I must admit when I hopped out of the cab, I was heading into a place called the Bouzy Rogue (which looks worthy of a visit in its own right), but instead we headed into what is essentially a bottle shop with a few tables to enjoy a sample or two. A beer store and café as Slow Beer’s website proclaims. Slow Beer’s shelves are overwhelming – I’ll be back another time to give these a thorough perusing – for now the taps. Slow Beer offers 4 taps, from which you can have a glass or fill up a growler. I’ve had a couple of great less than 3%ers lately. Boneyard’s Red Ale was a fabulous drop that I had recently at Mrs Parmas. As good as Boneyard was, To Øl’s Sundancer was incredible. Sharp, opaque, fresh and really intriguing at only 2.7%. To Øl means two beers in Danish and is run by two students of Mikkel Borg Bjergsø, one of the founders of Mikkeller. Like Mikkeller, To Øl is a gypsy brewer and Sundancer is actually made in Belgium. Bloody complicated, but bloody good.
The second beer we tried, which was ideal given the miserable cold afternoon Melbourne had laid on, was a Smoked Porter with as good a back story as the Sun Dancer. Smog Rocket is made by Beavertown Brewery, which is based in London and has as one of its co-founders, the son of the legendary Robert Plant (Logan’s story is told here). It commenced life in a pub, but has now moved into stand-alone premises. Whilst there is the temptation to sicker at the name, “BEAVERTOWN WAS THE OLD COCKNEY NAME GIVEN TO THE HISTORIC DE BEAUVOIR AREA, FAMED ACROSS VICTORIAN LONDON FOR ITS RICH CHARACTERS AND INFINITE REVELRY“. We’ll take ‘em at their word. The beer is beautiful. Smog Rocket pours black, but not too viscous. It is rich and satisfying, and eminently sessionable – despite its smoked quality (I often it a challenge to back up immediately on a smoked beer). The other two taps had great stuff including a 10% stout from Clown Shoes. Tempting – but Cam had another establishment to show me. Slow Beer – I’ll be back.
I love a bar with a non-descript entrance. The only thing that betrays that 72 Auburn Parade, Hawthorn East as a bar is a keg in the door. Up one flight of stairs are more kegs and a single piece of A4 paper blue tacked to the wall with “East of Everything” printed on it. Finally at the top of the stairs, you enter a very cool and classy establishment. Service was A1. We were given a quick intro the philosophy of East of Everything. 6 taps – turned over weekly – great food and a blast of a place to be. The six taps on our night couldn’t have been more varied. Beers from NZ, Canada, Japan, Germany and Victoria. 6 taps, 5 countries, 4 continents.
We launched straight into Garage Project‘s Day of the Dead. This was smooth, big and a little buzzy. That would be the agave and the chili, that they’ve put in the mix. It was a useful combo as we stood on the veranda overlooking the train line copping a cool breeze. We also enjoyed the Rauchbier, which was the discount beer for the evening. East of Everything is worth the trip from the city and I’ll be looking forward to another evening in its anonymous surrounds.
It’s been a wild Melbourne like day in Sydney. Sunny, cold snap, drenching rain and now sunny and becoming warm. Now perfect conditions for an early trip home.
Vintage Cellars at Wynyard has the odd unique and BotF’s great friend, Pete (yet to be inducted) tipped us off to a couple. Not too sure what to make of the Ruddles. Starts bland, but kicks, but not with the coffee/caramel that the label suggests. One for an open glass another time.
It’s still windy and some big yachts are out. There’s a chill in the wind, but the sun’s taking the edge off. One of these days I’ll do Two Birds Sunset Ale with the classic BotF sunset, but for the time being it still looks pretty good. One of the best beers going around and good to see them in Vintage Cellars.