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.