@hofbrauhousemelb – a Bavarian bolt hole in Melbourne’s Chinatown

An in situ post. 

Hofbräuhaus left, Flower Drum right

When I visit China I’m amazed at the obscure German beers I can pick up in the convenience stores and supermarkets. I’m experiencing a deja vu moment in Melbourne’s China Town.

Complete with Fraulien

In between two doyens of Melbourne’s Chinese food scene, namely Flower Drum and Shanghai Village Dumplings you can find the Hofbräuhaus. All around you are Chinese voices, smells, writing and buildings, but step through a modest door you enter a faux German après ski bar. Amazingly, the beer menu is as obscure as the Chinese convenience store range (with the exception of Hofbrau).

Arcobrau – old brewer

There’s a venerable brewer on this menu I’ve never heard of. Apparently Arcobrau (how does one umlaut?) has been brewing since 1567?!?. Anyway you can get 8 of their beers here. I’ve also never heard of irlbacher or Grunbacher, who also have beers available.

I really like this place. So much better than the the Munchen place on South Wharf that is so big it warrants its own post code. Oompahpah music interspersed with 99 LuftZballoons in a small setting. Definitely worth paying a visit when you are waiting for a table at Flower Drum.


The Hofbräuhaus: 18-28 Market Lane, Melbourne 3000

@austwinecentre moves and @PikesBeerCo Tonic Ale

42 Pitt Street

So a quick public service announcement for those that catch the ferry. Whilst Mr Liquor is the most proximate bottlo to Wharf 3, the Australian Wine Centre is always worth a visit if you aren’t rushing. As its name suggests, it is more about grape juice, the A(Wino)C carries an eclectic selection of beer and produce the occasional out there @untappd unique. They’ve just moved from their old location near Goldfields House to 42 Pitt Street.

Tonic Ale

An example of an occasional unique is Pike’s Tonic Ale. I’ve never seen this beer in any other bottlo. Pike’s Beer Company makes some wonderful beers. I struggle to go past their Pilsener Lager when I see it on a menu. Tonic Ale is highly unusual. It is a very light beer in ABV and colour. This 2%er is flavoured with citrus peel, ginger and coriander and is a cross between a beer and a herbal soft drink. I’ve seen it suggested that it be used as a mixer, particularly gin. Mrs Bladdamasta and daughter number 1 are enthusiastic consumers of G&Ts – so I tried the concept on them. Underwhelmed was the verdict but not unpotable. On its own, though it is a good quencher for a baking day on the Back of the Ferry.

Gin & Tonic Ale

Super Moon – not from the BotF

Astronomical events are very specific. Scientists know exactly when they will occur 20 years out. Apparently tonight is the closest to Earth the moon has been since 1948 and the closest it will be until 2034.  Otherwise it just looks like a full moon. The phenomenon does have a cool scientific name – “perigee-syzygy of the Earth-Moon-Sun system”.

Empty heads

The Back of the Ferry would have been a great place to view a Super Moon – but we were too early.

Stone Beer P0rn

Shelley Beach, the carpark and the surrounding cliffs gave a great vantage point. For brief moments, the (super) moon emerged from the clouds and the crowd of locals and backpackers all dutifully went “aaahhhh”. A very cool community experience.

Super Moon and beer

Another new Marrickville brewer! @saucebrewing

So for a moment I thought there might actually be a contest between Marrickville and Brookvale for the suburb with the most number of breweries. Well, it is no contest – no mas – throw in the towel. It is Marrickville by a long way.
Somehow I became aware that Sauce Brewing was throwing a launch party at the Dove & Olive. 

The Sauce Brewing range

Fortuitously, I was returning home from the Goldie (more about that in a later post) and the Dove is a short walk up the hill from Central Station and the airport train. I probably missed the formalities, but I met the brewer – Mike Clarke (spells his name correctly). He gave me the good oil – beers brewed at Australian Brewery to his recipes, but he’s installing the brewery in Marrickville as we speak. Two standard beers – Hop Sauce Pale Ale, Mega-Hop Double IPA and a Special Batch Saucy Saison. The Mega-Hop is a fine beer, with a squintingly good finish. 

All the best, Mike and I look forward to visiting Sauce at the Source.

Keeping up with Marrickville craft brewing @blackfontbrew

Drinking amongst the malt

A few weeks ago now I was able to pay a quick visit to a newish (2015) craft brewery in Marrickville. As has been the story of the BotF blog of late, this post got stuck in drafts. Because the Marrickville brewing scene is moving so fast, the story has (almost) become redundant. But as one door shuts (temporarily) another one opens.

A wall of wonder

Blackfont Brewhouse is a terrific craft beer venue in Marrickville. When I lived in Marrickville in the early 90s, I could have hardly imagined what the suburb would become and that it would challenge for the title of No.1 craft beer suburb in Sydney (but Brookvale will have something to say about that soon). You enter via Maude Lane around the back and not Meeks Rd. For such a tiny place, it provides a big experience. 

Nice merch

A steady stream of beer lovers soon filled the little cavern enjoying Blackfont’s challenging and tasty range of sours, weisse’s, browns and kolsches. The crowd probably had the highest obscure beer t-shirt ratio of any venue I’ve visited. Thank goodness I wore my Jing-A brewery shirt from Beijing. Was impressed when a punter said – “Been there – good beer”. Very experienced crowd. Amazingly, there’s 12 taps, including two nitros. The standout on the day was a couple of Berliner Weisses, including a lurid looking blackberry version. There’s a base weisse that you can flavour with 4 different syrups, including Woodruff, of which I’d never heard until my visit. Berliner Weisse is not my go-to style, but the blackberry was just beautiful. A tart sipper that went down a treat. 

A stunning beer – in looks and taste

The cavern bulged during the hour I visited. Kegs clanked as they were changed and the whole experience felt really organic. You drink next to bags of malt Normally I’d sign off with an exhortation to visit, but as per the attached image they’re closed for a while (but not forever). No matter, another brewer has just opened (as per the attached). Bucket Boys is the latest Marrickville venue. Gees, it is hard to keep up.

Blackfont Brewhouse: 92 Meeks Road, Marrickville NSW 2204

Bucket Boys: 300 Illawarra Road, Marrickville NSW 2204

Marrickville news

Gold Coast heaven

I’ve always enjoy coming to the Gold Coast aka the Goldie, Surfers etc. As a kid we holidayed here and I had some pretty memorable visits just after high school (Hoodoo Gurus at the Bombay Rock in ’89 (maybe)). There’s a familiar atmosphere when you walk off the plane and cross the Tarmac at Coolangatta airport. Take a deep breath and coat your lungs with SEQ humidity.

4 GC brewers, 6 taps

It’s a conference town and until last year I haven’t bothered  hunting the craft when I’ve made the trip. Last year showed promise. This year, the Goldie has delivered. The photo above is of a tap rack at a place called Surfers Sandbar. All six beers are brewed on the Goldie and represent 4 different brewers – all from the Goldie. All up there’s 20 taps at Surfers Sandbar and the fridges are chockful of bottled and canned goodies as well from the US (Sixpoint, Victory etc) and Australia. $12 lunch specials are good value. Insane value is the 4 beer tasting paddles (“skateboards”). Each beer is a middy and today one was 4 Pines IIIPA. Amazing.

Sandbar – go!

This post is just an opening salvo and I hope to elaborate on some of my discoveries in later posts. This scene is developing rapidly and a brewery launched in the last month. Currumbin Valley Brewing put out their first beer last month – and it’s on tap at Sandbar. “Look Out” is a double IPA – 8% ABV. First beer a DIPA? That’s like starting a test innings with a back foot cut for 6! Bloody good beer. ABV understated.

The debut beer of the newest GC brewer

Surfers Sandbar: 52 The Esplanade, Surfers Paradise, Queensland

Bavarian Bier Cafe puts its crafty range in bottles

A quick in situ post.

Cartons and cooler bags

One of the intriguing developments in the craft beer industry is the launch by the Bavarian Bier Cafe of a craft beer range.  They’ve stepped it up a notch by bottling them, though given the history of the Bavarian Bier Cafe, I would have thought big cans would have been a more appropriate vessel.

More a single than a double

The other interesting development is that the beer is now advertised as being brewed by “Urban Craft Brewing Co” who are located at 12-18 Argyle Street, Sydney. There’s merch as well, but honestly I wouldn’t be seen dead in a t-shirt with a Betty Boo/Brighton Beach lady style on it. 

The BBC Craft range