It was an antarctic night last Thursday in Melbourne, so much so that I almost opted for the warmth of my hotel room, but you just never know whether the regular visits to Melbourne will stop – so every opportunity must be taken. Penny Blue Bar is at the end of short laneway (Drivers Lane) in the heart of the Melbourne CBD and I was delighted to see no shortage of heating devices on display. Penny Blue Bar is really well set up, with luxurious inside and outside seating. The bar is in the back right corner and looks deceptively small, but contains one of the more comprehensive beer collections I’ve seen for sometime. The beer menu is pages long and to photograph one page would do it a disservice. As Tipples promised, confusion really sets in and that would explain ordering a beer called Breakfast at 8pm at night.
Moa Breakfast beer is quite unusual. Designed to be a summer beer (I really was very rattled by the choice), it has a very distinctive cherry aroma and taste. It’s not overpoweringly sweet like a fruit beer, and I’d go it again, but not on such a cold dark evening. Next up was a Midnight IPA, by Temple Brewing. This was a much better choice given the conditions. The jet blackness matched the sky and the heavy hoppiness and high alcohol content crashed head on into the chorizo and warmed the heart. This is a cracking beer, but things were going to get better.
There doesn’t look like much room for taps at Penny Blue – most of the action is in the fridges, but there’s a small range of hand pulled beers available and I’ve never been let down by anything from Mornington Brewery – so I opted for a Mornington Porter. Nice choice – very smooth and soothing. I could have stayed on this all night.
As I was about to leave this fine establishment, I received a tweet from @tipplesblog providing another tip – “If you are at Penny Blue, try Black Dog IPA”. Well, his tip on Penny Blue was that on the money – I was sure I could rely on this one. Never in doubt, this IPA is an absolute ripper. Made by Black Dog Brewery in the small town of Taminick, which is 250kms NNE of Melbourne, Leader of the Pack IPA is a stand out of this variety. The brewery is within a winery and the brewer is also a winemaker. Might have to try his wine after this beer. Leader of the Pack IPA is resinous, sharp and gloriously bitter. It is one to drink slowly and revel in the wonderful aftertaste.