I think I have another must do for any tourist to Sydney. The Island Bar can be found on Cockatoo Island, which is west of the Sydney Harbour Bridge between Birchgrove and Woolwich. Not only is the bar in a terrific location – the only way there is by boat. The most affordable way to get to Cockatoo Island is by Sydney Ferry (12 minutes from Circular Quay). We caught the Sirius, which is a member of the First Fleet fleet (all the ferries are named after ships that were in the First Fleet that arrived in Sydney in 1788). There’s always the old water taxi and for the well heeled, private boats can pull in as well.
The bar is self-described as a “European Beach Resort Style Bar”. Hmmm. I reckon it’s just so unique. The actual bar resides in some old shipping containers and there are a variety of chairs and stools to sit on. The best option is to grab one of the many picnic rugs and just lie in the sun. The views look east from Cockatoo Island and on a day like we experienced, there are few better places to be on Sydney Harbour or indeed in Sydney. The drinks menu concentrates on cocktails. The beer menu is very skinny offering only Peroni or Fat Yak (which made one of my companions – Illiards) very happy. Magners has stitched it up nicely and have their Original and Pear ciders as the exclusive ciders. These were flying from the bar, and I helped in that cause. One of my @Untappd followers was critical of me drinking cider made from concentrate – but really there was no choice. The Pear was as plain as, and the Original was functional for a warm day.
I hadn’t been to Cockatoo Island before. We were camping for the night with 3 other families, including fellow correspondent illiards’ brood. What a find! The camping was extremely easy. You simply turn up with all your food and sleeping bags, unzip the entrance of the already erected tent and remove the two camp chairs and you are done. illiards opted for the Glamping option where two raised beds are provided – but really if you nail the candlelit drinking properly, aided by some sherbets at the Island Bar in the afternoon, then sleeping is a doddle. Cockatoo Island is an 18 hectare large island that has been variously a penal settlement and a shipyard. There’s plenty of evidence of the latter activity left, and it’s possible to circumnavigate the island. When you sit on the island, you just realise how much maritime traffic Sydney has. I’ll definitely be back to Cockatoo Island, but I might see if I can get the house on the hill next to the Tennis Court.
The beer list at Qantas Clubs has taken a major dive. Not long ago you could endure a flight delay by getting the occasional Fat Yak from @Matildabaybeer. Now the photo shows what is available. Disappointing.
Qantas needs to check out the competition. Virgin’s lounge offers beez neez and the Fat Yak.
Exploiting a small window of opportunity after another flying visit to Melbourne, BotF sprinted through a couple of bars in Exhibition Street, which comes off the Paris end of Collins Street. I’ve got to say, though, that I was stopped dead in my tracks by my first beer. The European Bier Cafe is a very classily done up bar on the corner of Little Collins and Exhibition Streets. Plenty of dark wood panelling, booths and 3 6-tap-racks mainly of European beers provide a fine drinking establishment. They don’t miss you on price, however. Had a quick yack to the barman, and he advised that despite a 16 to 2 ratio on Euro to Cartlon Draught on tap – the punters drink Carlton Draught 2 to 1. Maybe its the price. I chose the Leffe Blond - f&ck me. This is just a sensational beer. The Leffe glass ensures that your nose is assaulted immediately with all sorts of aromas. The first sip is also overwhelming and you wonder where you left your knife and fork. I started to hope that my plane would be delayed, as I wanted to sip this fruity complex strong beer. The website lists an amazing history of the Leffe Abbey that is well worth a read.
I eventually finished my Leffe and skedaddled down to the Coopers Inn. This is another fine Melbourne establishment. Tastefully renovated, there are more pictures at the BotF Bar Review Map. The problem with the bar sprint is you don’t get enough time to appreciate some places, and I’ll need to come back
As I entered the Coopers Inn, I noticed a Mongolian restaurant a little way up the road. I had a Fat Yak, and the penny dropped. I was very close to the site of the Fat Yak competition launch, reported recently by Tipples. If there has been a better beer competition, I haven’t seen it. The detail from the website to the imitation footy cards you use for entries is just so laudable. Fat Yak is a dead set favourite of many BotF correspondents, I only wish they gave entries with every on tap Yak you have at the Qantas Club.
Your correspondent had been merrily posting away and rating pubs on inclusion or not of Fat Yak Pale Ale in their list of tap beers. What I had totally missed is that the el primo drop itself had not been reviewed. Here it is.
This beer is simply beautiful. Fat Yak is rich and flavoursome, a bit of a malt aftertaste and very easy drinking. It unseated my previous preference for Monteiths Golden Lager. Produced by Matilda Bay Brewing Company, it has an impressive range of sibling beers that appear throughout BotF and others that will soon. Matilda Bay started in Freo, WA and produced Redback, one of the first boutique style local beers that I recall. They have moved to VIC and seriously increased the range.
The photo also includes ‘the baja’ referred to in earlier posts. Back in all her second hand glory, she takes pride of place on the kitchen wall.
Times have changed, a pedestrian mall has been build outside and the insides have been brassed and glassed.
The Orient has a strong but not impressive list of beers on tap and a serviceable restaurant upstairs. It feels a bit touristy and, given its location, it can be forgiven for this. But it also felt like everyone drinking there was on the way somewhere else. Departure lounge is the word. Anyway, its worth a look in simply because it has Fat Yak on tap. A table outside would be the go. You may have to eat something though.
BotF made a rare late night crossing and inducted regular commentator Cyril Dickthorpe as a fully paid up BotF member. Congratulations Cyril!
Favourite Beverage: Fat Yak Pale Ale
Favourite Sport to Spectate: Formula 1 (they just go round and round….)
Area of Trivial Expertise: Australian Automotive Manufacturers
Now don’t get me wrong. It is a nice drop with rich flavours and emminently drinkable. Even with some of Saltram’s famous Barossa Valley Shiraz thrown in to the mix. However, I probably wouldn’t buy it again and would rely on the ‘esky raffle’ to taste it again.
The main reason for this is the worrying trend it perpetuates. It comes in a 4-pack, the bottles are only 330ml and 4 are more expensive than 6 primo quality imports that I’d normally but from the Brookie Drive In.
Maybe nice as a wedding present or in the Xmas hamper. But not as my regular Friday night, farewell to the coal face, gift to myself, reward for a job well done premium orange whip. This would be a Fat Yak or Wicked Elf Pilsener (this month anyway).