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.
For a number of years this correspondent has driven past a complex of grand facades on Pittwater Road at Collaroy on Sydney’s Northern Beachs. Occasionally when A Hog’s Breath occupied the Northern facade, we’d stop in, but I never frequented the pub and wasn’t even aware of the Club that occupied the rest of the buildings. Today that changed as I took advantage of large gaps between my daughter’s IRB races to sample both, and effectively completed the Collaroy pub crawl.
The Beach Club, which is actually the Collaroy Services Beach Club, can be easy to miss from the street as there is a single entry door. One signs in, walks through a short corridor and then in to a quite large area that opens out a little Alice-in-Wonderland like. There’s a substantial upstairs function area and outdoor seating area as well. Downstairs punters are well catered for with a screened off pokies area and an excellent TAB facility with the right number of screens to lose money with all the knowledge you could ask for. The big surprise is the treat for serious beer drinkers.
Being an RSL, I was fully expecting a line-up of Hahn Super Dry, Tooheys, VB, Carlton Draught etc and that is what one rack had – but the second wouldn’t be out of place in a fine Melbourne craft beer establishment. The second rack carried Murray’s Whale Ale, Little Creatures Marzen, Mt Kosciuszko Pale Coopers Pale and Matilda Bay Dogbolter. Only the presence of XXXX Gold stopped it from acquiring legendary tap status. There was a separate tap rack devoted to James Squires and the Big Helga was in the fridge. With such excellent punting facilities and fine beers – this has to be revisited.
The Collaroy Beach Hotel is more mainstream, though the boys from Longboard Brewing Co have done a fine job in getting a significant amount of their promotional material adorning the walls. Again, punters are well catered for and there are plenty of big screens with all the sport on. There’s a dancefloor upstairs and a good outdoor area with sight of the ocean. The Beach Club has a greater amount of outdoor space and its tap rack means it wins hands down. You could end up in worse venues, though, than the Collaroy Beach Hotel. Quick, but worthwhile and rewarding pub crawl.
Back in the late ’80′s before the great crash of 1987, there was an explosion in the variety of beers available in Australia. Australia was flooded with imported beers from far flung places. I’m sure I saw a Norwegian Stout at the British Lion once. There was also a flurry of micro-breweries opening in Oz to take advantage of Aussies trying to outdo each-other at barbies with unusual six packs. Hahn and Balmain Bock opened around this time. Over in the West, awash with cash around the time of the America’s Cup – Matilda Bay was founded. One of their standout drops was Dogbolter.
Now, Matilda Bay has launched a series of beer made in their new brewery in Dandenong. They’ve celebrated the legend of Dogbolter with a re-creation – a throwback beer if you will. Matilda Bay have acknowledged that this Dogbolter is not the same as the beer from the ’80s. That version was so chunky you could carve it and it packed a punch – 6.8% if I re-call. This version is more like a dark lager – and given how good it is – I’ve got no problems with that. Smooth, chocolatey and distinctive. A great beer to drink in winter – but if offered I’d nail it in summer as well.
Maybe we’ll see limited editions of Balmain Bock or Country Special. And if anyone can lay their hands on a cold, gold KB – please send it BotF’s way.
Matilda Bay produced a beer for Oktoberfest last year out of its garage brewery in Dandenong. BotF spotted a single stubbie in a bottlo in Balgowlah, and quickly snaffled it. Apparently named for a German barmaid that the Matilda Bay brewer formed an obsession for in Munich, Big Helga is a great looking beer and has a really big after-taste. Described as a Dry Munich Style lager, it is much more complex than an Aussie Lager – like Foster’s, say. Strong aromas and a long-lingering bitter taste. Hopefully Helga can make re-appearance in October 2010 and you can all have a crack at her.