The Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel is an old timer on the Australian Craft Beer scene. According to their website, they started brewing on-site in 1985 and they’ve been going strong ever since. The Lord Nelson Hotel is a must-visit for any visitor to Sydney and it is an awesome place for that DNR lunch in summer. That said, the Lord is not adverse to jumping onto the occasional trend and he’s done that (very?) recently by introducing Quayle “Summer” Ale in a 6 pack – though as long as I can remember it’s been on tap.
What is a “Summer Ale”? According to Beer Advocate’s Beer Style Guide, there is no “Summer Ale” style, yet if you search for “Summer Ale” there are 229 varieties (but not Quayle Summer Ale!). I think there is no real definition, other than a Summer Ale is designed to be a quenching beer, moderate alcohol strength, most probably citrusy and nothing too big about it so that you can “slam it down fast”. The Quayle Summer Ale fits that definition. There was a little spice in the swallow, and let’s just say the 6 pack vanished very quickly. Love the whole appearance as well – and the “Praise the Lord” motto was most apt for Christmas Eve, when I drank said beer. Received a nice present the next day, whose contents may pop up in some exotic locations shortly.
This correspondent is not a big fan of the Crown Casino. The quality of their rooms mean the Crown Towers is not a bad place to stay, but their bars and mini-bars generally are stocked appallingly at egregious mark-ups. Fortunately two gems have been uncovered that remedy both defeciencies.
The first ruby in the mountain of rock that is the Crown Casino complex is The Waiting Room. Hotel lobby bars are generally not a place that one would expect to find a menu of fine craft beers. The Waiting Room, despite its location opposite the check-in desk of Crown Towers, is actually a pretty chic drinking establishment. It would also appear that this correspondent didn’t venture far enough inside because the website reveals an Aladdin’s Cave of leather seats, jewel encrusted doors and ornate lighting. The prices are still premium (it’s a Neil Perry establishment in a casino – of course you’ll be fleeced), but if you can go on someone else’s coin – there’s no finer place to work your way through a menu of antipodean and world craft beers.
The two draught beers served are Mornington Brown (droooool) and Lord Nelson 3 Sheets – hard to imagine a better two tap offering. The bottle line-up is equally impressive. It’s still winter and the Melbourne atmosphere was damp – so I opted for a robust porter – Bridge Road’s Robust Porter. There’s no half measures with this one – big flavours and an opaque blackness (though the lighting wasn’t the best). Really roasted and I could’ve stayed on this all night, but there was a list with untrieds on it. I took the opportunity to break my Canadian stout duck with a St-Ambroise Oatmeal Stout – brewed by McAuslan. McAuslan is a bi-lingual brewer from Quebec and doesn’t noire a l’avoine sound so much classier than oatmeal stout? Far less agressive than the Robust Porter (which lived up to its name), this beer was as smooth as a gravy sandwich. Smoothness is apparently a feature of Outmeal Stouts, and this was a physical pleasure to drink. Taste was much more understated (should have swapped them in the batting order), but had a very pleasant bitterness to it. Nice work, McAuslan.
The second discovery is not in the Casino complex but just opposite the taxi rank entrance on the corner of Queensbridge and Power Street. The Cellarbrations outlet is a cavernous bottle-shop with a weird pot-pourri of Aussie mainstream and craft beer, as well as a most eclectic collection of overseas beers. You couldn’t help but think a shipping container of Skol had gone astray at Port Melbourne as there were slabs of it everywhere. A $34.99 per case sign catches the eye until the fine print is read. The 269ml can capacity would really give Illiards the irrits and when you apply the BotF beer price calibrator (ie what does 24X375ml cost) to the 15 cans in this baby slab it works out to be the equivalent of $78.04. BotF is here to you a favour because we’ve taken another one on the chin – don’t buy it.
This watery muck is made in Brazil by what is apparently the biggest beverage maker in the world AB INBev. If proof is needed that size isn’t everything – Skol is exhibit A. This is the most popular beer in Brazil – they’ve have to lift their game before the World Cup. For once, a small can is a blessing as there is less to drink. Still, when the standard Crown Towers room mini-bar stocks 3 mainstream beers – Cellarbrations is a cheaper option and will offer a far wider variety.
As we charge headlong towards the winter solstice, there is almost more sign of the sun in the air when the 6pm from Circular Quay sets sail. It’s pretty cool on the back deck and big beers are the order of the day. The sky has been clear and we’ve had some great moonlit evenings recently.
Stouts are a fine drink for these sorts of trips home. Many Australian breweries produce a stout, and they are actually pretty good. Coopers Best Extra Stout, Southwark, Swan and Abbotsford Invalid are all great examples of Stout produced by now mainstream breweries. Sheaf Stout is a typical example. Despite now being produced by Carlton, Sheaf Stout is a NSW drop. The label hasn’t changed and it tastes pretty traditional as well. I reckon it has become a little thinner over the years, but it still has plenty of roasted flavour and and maltiness. It does the job on the trip home.
One of BotF’s favourite destinations in Sydney for a beer is the Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel. The brewery produces 6 beers that it has on tap at the pub and two that it bottles and sells at classy bottle-shops. BotF has previously enjoyed Old Admiral which at 6.1% made for a meaty 6 pack on the way home. Tonight we were able to lay our hands on a 6 pack of Three Sheets. This is a really good pale ale. Plenty of heady hoppy aroma and no shortage of citrus on the palate. Made for a very pleasant journey and I look forward to ripping into one off the tap soon.
The long winter is over – the night-time or twilight trips are no more for 6 months and how good is that. Two BotF foundation members were joined in the celebration of the first Daylight BotF for the year by an old salt, Kieran.
It was a aquatic theme all round with a Collins Class submarine trailing the Manly Ferry across Sydney Harbour. We toasted the “pride” of the Australian Navy with an Old Admiral from one of BotF’s favourite pub – the Lord Nelson.
The evening was also aquatically commenced by watching the synchronised swimming in the Commonwealth Games at the live site set up at Circular Quay in front of Quay Bar. It’s a little bit of overkill to watch the Commonwealth Games, which is basically a step up from a District Schools sports carnival, on such a big screen – but maybe they are warming up for the Ashes, which would pack out the Quay. (I note that the two Lesotho swimmers took 1 minute 14 to swim the 100m – I’d back BotF member Unwin to beat that time).
OK – to the beer. Old Admiral is one the great drops from the Lord Nelson Brewery Hotel. They brew 6 standards, and bottle two of them. BotF didn’t look at the alcohol content of what he picked up, but sometimes (very rarely) a 330ml bottle is a blessing. Old Admiral is a chunky, full flavoured, ruby red beauty. At 6.1%, it packs a mean old punch and 3 of these equips you for whatever challenges the home front brings. Can’t get enough of this one, but would love them to bottle Nelson’s Blood