As I write this post, the 3rd Good Beer Week will be kicking off its final day of supremely varied and wonderful events and festivities. Whilst I get to Melbourne regularly, it is never (generally) at a time of my own choosing – and until Thursday evening I’d never been able to get along to a Good Beer Event Week. Well, fortune smiled quite late and I found myself flying to Melbourne late on Thursday. Now I knew that many of the craft beer community would be at the Australian International Beer Awards dinner – but I felt pretty sure the hoi polloi would still be out and about at one of the 113 venues that were participating in Good Beer Week.
As tempted as I was to bolt straight to the familiar surrounds of the Great Northern Hotel, I decided to jump out of the cab at the Alehouse Project. It’s a place I’d been wanting to get to for a while and it had turned its taps over to a number of NZ brewers. The joint was absolutely jumping and the crowd at the bar was deep. I ordered a couple of pints and headed out back to the beer garden. Great beer garden by the way – will be visiting in summer again.
No sooner than I’d had a first sip than I saw a familiar face. Doc from Doctor’s Orders Brewing was at the Alehouse catching up with some old mates and checking to see where some of his kegs had gotten to. He introduced me as BotF and it was pleasing to see that we’ve actually been of in Melbourne. There were 12 taps and one hand pump that had been turned over to beers that I mostly only read about. Parrot Dog, Renaissance, Garage Project, Croucher and Yeastie Boys were all featured on the evening. The night was so popular that taps were running out – and as I said it was a night for double pumped orders. For the record, I ripped into a Flaxen Feather from Parrot Dog – a good way to take the edge off the plane trip. I followed that up with a Yeastie Boys Gunnamatta IPA. I could tell I was in craft beer company and fellow drinkers debated the merits of this batch vs previous batches. I found it challenging to be honest. It was then another cleanser in the form of a Garage Project Pils’n’Thrills, before tackling the palindromic wonder of Yeastie Boys nevaRRaven.
Fortified by the nevaRRaven I set off for the Great Northern. Given this was my only chance to experience Good Beer Week – I wasn’t going to just leave it at one venue. Maybe because I was disoriented by the nevaRRaven, I went the wrong way – but I was able to see one of the funnier street signs. See kids – it isn’t just me that’s rough on the hipsters. I finally reached my goal and was rewarded by a pair of Rye Beers off the tap. Sierra Nevada’s Ruthless Rye 2013 edition was first up. Whilst its an IPA, the use of Rye took the squint off the taste. Warming and fine. The really well named Smooth Ryed ended the evening. Another strong beer, this again used Rye to good effect. Am now a convert to the Rye. So, it was a flying visit to Good Beer Week – but it’s made me determined to etch it into the calendar next year. New beers, new and favourite venues and most importantly – great people.