This correspondent currently in the UK for a quick visit. Had the opportunity to sample a London Pale Ale at Old Thames Inn at Nicholsons on Thames. Very very “Pintable” with similar musings to Little Creatures Pale Ale and quite pleasant after an American IPA served at room temp which was a little flaccid after a day of walking. Do yourselves a favour Thrillseekers
I don’t think I’d heard of Morpeth until I drank a Morpeth beer at Harts. Turns out it a historic town on the outskirts of Maitland, that just happens to have a microbrewery. I was taking a scenic route from Boomerang Beach to Wollombi and was fortuitously able to make Morpeth a not too inconvenient detour.
Morpeth’s definitely a place to take the missus. There’s plenty of antique, clothing and knick nack shops on the main drag that can provide an hour long distraction whilst you pay a visit to the brewery bar. Morpeth’s done a great job of preserving and restoring its heritage buildings and it is a great looking town on the river. On this trip I had the little fella with me and there were no shortage of ice cream shops to keep him happy.
The brewery and accompanying “Boutique Beer Bar” are to be found in the Commercial Hotel. The brewery is very micro and is jammed into a small room on the ground floor. The Bar is out the back and offers 7 taps which would be constantly changing. The range is diverse from cream ales to Double Black IPAs via pumpkin beer and Hefeweizen. A four glass paddle is available.
I really enjoyed the Pumpkin Ale. The bistro menu looked pretty solid. Doesn’t look to be takeaway yet (didn’t ask whether they’d fill a growler). So if you are in the Maitland area, Morpeth’s well worth the diversion.
illiards and I have spent the weekend at the small village of Boomerang Beach celebrating the joint 50th of some very dear friends. When you travel this far for a 50th AND it’s a long weekend a Saturday night bash must be followed up with a recovery party, which becomes a bash as well.
Our kids are with us, so to provide a distraction we took ’em up to Forster Tuncurry for a look. Fortuitously, the Hamilton Oyster Bar was holding the Wallis Lake Oyster & Craft Beer Festival. The kids just couldn’t believe their/our luck. Later – neither could our spouses.
It was a hit and run mission for us, and we made it for the opening bell on Sunday, the second of two days. There were six Brewers and one cidery that had set up shop – two of which were kind of local. Murray’s from Bob’s Farm, about 140kms away had 5 different beers on tap including Black Knight. Slightly closer from Port Macquarie was The Little Brewing Company. They had 3 of their standard Wicked Elf range – Pale, Kolsch and Pilsner on tap, as well as a Limited Edition Citra IPA.
We’d tried everything else before so we were very keen on giving the Citra IPA a go. We were not disappointed – super fresh pine aroma and a great unctuous mouth feel. Terrific IPA and I could have stayed on this all day – aah, but the kids. The crowds were starting to pour in by now. The weather was fine, the pelicans were putting on a show and blue waters of the Coolongolook Ricer were sparkling and buzzing with activity. A fine afternoon would have been had by all. Actually, we did have a fine afternoon at the second half of the 50th back at Boomerang – so really there’s no complaints.
Happy birthday, Roger & Simone.
I’ve been back on the Melbourne shuttle a little lately. A couple of weeks ago, I was walking “hotelwards” along Flinders Lane. Back in the early 2000s, I spent plenty of time in this part of time, so much so, the hotel I stayed at (no longer there) monogrammed a pillow slip for me. Many a post work libation was had at the Bull & Bear Tavern, which I found myself walking past this particular evening.
The front bar has not changed at all, though they’ve made the property work harder for them so they were holding Cha-Cha classes in the back bistro. It was a quiet old night, so I pushed off having ticked off the reminiscence.
Five steps on up Flinders Lane I hear some noise coming from a basement. Sure enough, a Flinders Lane special. “Bartronica – Arcade Bar”. This place has been open since 2015 and is a terrific concept. I’ve never been a “gamer” in any generation (Atari, Space Invader, Galaga, Ninitendo…and I’m drawing a blank), but I’ve always loved a game of pinball. These guys aren’t the first to have a bank of pinnies in a drinking establishment, but there’s an impressive range and I haven’t seen the purpose built schooner table before.
What I hadn’t seen before in a bar was the semi private booths that allowed 4 people to sit on couches and play four handed console based (?) games (don’t ask me what). Just like home, but in a bar. There was a couple of classic arcade games from the 90s like NBA challenge. I just enjoyed seeing early computer animations of the 90s Hornets, Cavaliers and Supersonics jerseys. At the front entrance was a vintage bowling game that looked beautiful.
From a booze perspective they do cocktails, spirits and an eclectic range of craft in bottles. There’s at least four taps with joysticks for tap handles. I wasn’t really expecting a unique, but happily found one from a brewer so obscure they don’t appear on Crafty Pint’s site or Craft Beer Reviewer’s list of 417 Australian brewers. Collins St Brewing Co looks like they make one beer called Once Bitter. It is a pretty straight up pleasant Golden Ale designed not to distract whilst you play. A summer special and the world’s most informative website.
Bartronica also has a beer garden out the back (not sure if there are game). Great little place and great to be back in Flinders Lane.
Bartronica: 335 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, Victoria
“Help me pick up some furniture at Somersby, Dad?”. “Sure, so long as we can have lunch at Foghorn in Erina“. “Done deal”.
Don’t be put off by the empty tables in the photos – we were very early first customers. If you don’t want to travel all the way to the Brewhouse in Newcastle, then this is the next best way to experience Foghorn beer and food. It’s well worth the trip.
Foghorn started in 2015 and is the new venture for Shawn Sherlock, the former head brewer at Murray’s. BotF got to meet Shawn at the hotly hyped opening of Murray’s at Manly back in 2011. I really hope this goes better for him, and based on my visit I reckon he’s got it right.
No expense has been spared, right down to the Foghorn branded bar stools. This place is beautiful inside and out and has plenty to look at including the tool tap handles. There are a couple of big screen TVs as well, which I personally reckon is a plus – but that’s just me.
There’s (at least) 10 taps and the range on the day was phenomenal. My brother-in-law raved about Better Than James Brown Ale, claiming it was the best mid-strength he’d had. Well, he’s not far wrong – bloody fine with much more depth than Kent Brown Old, say. I didn’t get into the high ABV beers on the day, but Shawn Sherlock doesn’t miss a trick with those – just need a driver next time.
The food’s bloody good too. Big burgers are the go and the value for money is exceptional given the size. I could’ve just crawled under the table and slipped into a food coma. Instead, I returned to Sydney full as a tick and fully merched up with obligatory shirt and not necessarily obligatory squealer full of Young Americans IPA.
Foghorn Brewhouse Erina: 2 Ilya Avenue, Erina NSW
Sixpoint Brewery really crams plenty on and in their very attractive cans. Nomad Brewing sell some of Sixpoint’s year round range at their Brookvale site. Sixpoint also do one offs in a range called Cycliquids – and this “coffee blonde” was available when I popped in for a growler refill.
The can is a work of art and gives a great summary of what to expect. This is dominated by the coffee hit, but ultimately gives way to a rich boozy glow. It is very much like an affogato after you’ve eaten the ice cream and let the liqueur and coffee roll around. At 7.2% ABV, there’s a kick to it. Drink after dessert.
This one’s been a long time coming. Alf is a loyal follower of Back of the Ferry and has participated in many a beer adventure with bladdamasta and illiards over the years. Alf was with me at the Library Alehouse when the whole tap house thing hit me like a ton of bricks in 2007. Most recently, Alf enjoyed our very fortuitous trip to Oahu, which afforded many beer diversions.
Favourite beverage: A cold Corona
Favourite sport to spectate: International Rugby
Area of trivial expertise: Australian Olympic Gold Medallists – 1896 to 2000
Favourite pub of all time: Welcome Hotel – Balmain
Induction witnessed by bladdamasta, illiards, Hutto, Will and Gerald