As the Comedy Festival was coming to a closed I was sitting in a pub with a glass of craft beer in my hand when my eyes fell upon another magazine, this one advertising the program for the next major festival that was to come to Melbourne – Good Beer Week. As the name suggests, this festival is all about beer … and food, but mostly beer. However, it isn’t about that rubbish big brand name beer that I grew up drinking, and pretty much most of the young and hip generation look upon with disdain, but rather it is about small time breweries, local pubs, and hole in the wall bars promoting their wares. In fact the events tend to range across a whole spectrum of pubs and bars, with the exception of those that happened to be corporate owned (and even then their version of craft beer is what a colleague of mine calls faux-craft beer, and it is absolutely putrefying).
Anyway, this post is going to take the form of, well, one long pub crawl that pretty much took the entire week, and will take in all of the pubs that I visited for the festival, and a few others thrown in for good measure. For the pub to make mention in these two posts – I have decided to split it into two due to the length – it has to serve real craft beer. So, the festival started with a bang on Friday 12th May and finished on Sunday 21st May (and in a way it seemed to be a bit of a whimper, but then again people had pretty much been drinking beer all week, and Australian beer can be pretty strong). Another thing I should mention is that the festival had a series of pubs hosting what was called ‘The Pint of Origin’ – that is that the pub would select a single region and only serve craft beers from that region, which meant that if you were hanging for a Budweiser you weren’t going to get that at the bar that served US craft beers. However, it was a shame that they didn’t have a bar focused on British craft beers (nor Germany, but then again craft beers are non-existent in Germany).
Actually, my trek started off in a small cocktail bar down a side alley named Misty. At first I wasn’t going to write about it, but then I realised that Misty actually fit well into the theme namely because it was a small, hole in the wall bar that served craft beers, even though there wasn’t a huge selection. The problem was that it opened at, well, the time that the owner felt like opening it (or it could have already been open it is just that I didn’t realise it at the time). Still, after wandering around for a bit, I ended up stepping inside for my first drink of the week. Another thing I should mention is that it is located in Hosier Lane, which is one of those lanes that is famous for being covered in graffiti. Well, come to think of it there are a lot of laneways covered in graffiti, but this laneway is dedicated to what is probably better termed to be Street Art.
However, enough of that because it was time to head across the road to Beer de Lux on Federation Square, which happens to be the festival hub. Well, the problem was that this place was absolutely packed, and even though the entertainment was supposed to kick off at around 6:00, they seemed as if they only had a DJ. However, I did grab a glass of Beechworth Pale Ale, which is quite a nice drop made in the Victorian town of Beechworth. I also managed to find myself a seat, though had an interesting encounter with a rather intoxicated woman who kept on playfully punching me in the shoulder.
Unfortunately I wasn’t able to stay namely because I had purchased tickets to see Alien: Covenant later that night, however I should mention that not only did my beer come out in one of those cool beer glasses that actually look like wine glasses, except they aren’t wine glasses because they are for beer, they were also selling good beer week merchandise, which included one of those fancy beer glasses. I didn’t get one that night, but I did come back again later, purchased a glass, and also had a beer called a Hop Thief, which was being quite heavily promoted.
Okay, my Saturday started a little earlier namely because it was one of those Saturdays that I decided to go for a trek (namely because if I don’t do it now I’ll never get around to do it – the ancient art of procrastination). However, because these pubs were out in the suburbs, there was no connection with Good Beer Week (and moreso they were pretty ordinary pubs serving pretty ordinary beer). However, my trek began again when I got off at Richmond East and wandered through the back streets to the Cherry Tree Hotel.
I’ve been here once before, but that was ages ago when I was first exploring the city and because it didn’t have a beer garden, or a rooftop deck, I didn’t think all that much about it. Well, as it happens it is one of those craft beer bars, with some good craft beers on tap (which seems to be my standard line when it comes to commenting on craft beer pubs – then again how can it be a craft beer pub unless it has a good selection of craft beers). Well, they did have a barbecue, but I wasn’t really all that hungry, and instead grabbed a Calypso (which was a craft beer). Mind you, I will be coming back here later.
I was planning on going to the Local Taphouse due to it offering British Beers, but that was a little too far away and I had to get back to Epping since I wanted to watch another movie (a rather silly Goldie Hawn film). However, I did have the opportunity to stop off at the Luile Street Tavern, which was having a Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers Night, which meant that all they played was Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. I have to admit that Tom Petty was one of my favourite bands as a kid, so I stopped off here for a drink. Mind you, not much in the way of craft beers, so I guess their whole participation was to promote themselves. Since it was a Tom Petty night, here is Don’t Come Around Here No More.
Since I had just missed my train, I decided to stop over at Dr Morse, which is another one of the awesome Melbourne pubs, for another drink, though like the Cherry Tree Hotel, I would be coming back here later.
Since I was heading out to church that evening it was an opportune time to visit a few more pubs. In fact I found myself visiting a number over today, beginning with the Stomping Ground Brewery. Mind you, Stomping Ground wasn’t the easiest to get to, and I am still wondering why I took the more convoluted way to get there as opposed to simply jumping off the train at Collingwood and the back on again. However, in doing so it meant that I discovered a pizza bar called Lazerpig, and another pub that I didn’t know about.
Anyway, as you can guess, Stomping Ground is a brewery, and for the week they were showcasing six new beers. Unfortunately that part of the bar was packed, which meant that I had to go around to the other part of the brewery and try their standard fare. Mind you, since I hadn’t been here before, and hadn’t tried any of their standard fare, there was plenty to chose from. I ended up having the One Eyed IPA, and have since made a mental note (just then mind you), to pay a few more visits to the place to try some of their other wares.
My next stop was a much smaller bar some what further away than was expected – the Brewcult Beer Bar. In fact I had never heard of this place before, and they were having a bogan tinnie party. Mind you, the whole idea behind the tinny usually conjures up long haired guys in a t-shirt, really short shorts, and a can of Fosters (which, by the way, nobody drinks here in Australia – in fact you will be hard pressed to actually find any anymore). However, since this was good beer week, they offered some craft beer tinnies, and I had a Yeastie Boy, which wasn’t bad.
Well, it was time to go to church, but immediately after I went back on my pub crawl (I doubt you would have ever expected to have seen the words church and pub crawl used in the sentence) which landed me up at the Fox Hotel. This is another one of those awesome pubs that I love, but don’t get to visit all that much. One of the really cool things about this pub is that it has one of those bottle shops that I would have expected to see in Belgium, that is carrying hundreds of beers. They also have a huge collection of beer bottles and tins all over the place. Maybe going to church and then immediately on a pub crawl was a bad idea though because I ordered a Pink Perl, which turned out to be a dark ale, and I absolutely hate dark ales.
This was the same problem when I ended up at the Clifton Hill Brew Pub. This is one of those pubs that happens to brew its own beers. Normally the beers are quite nice, however they were showcasing some new batches, and the one that I ended up having – the ESB – was horrid. Then again that probably had more to do with it being a dark beer than anything else, Still, I wasn’t particularly impressed it with, and ended up finishing my night on a bit of a downer.
Okay, Monday was a work day, but since it was good beer week it meant that I could go and visit a couple of more pubs. The first was an Irish Pub called the Last Jar, but one of the reasons was that apparently they were having some bands playing. Well, I came in a little too early, which turned out to be a problem, but they still had some non-standard beers on tap, such as a Pay Day Pale Ale, which I quite enjoyed. Then again I tend to like most pale ales, especially if they are craft beers.
My next stop was the Lincoln Hotel, a pub that isn’t too high on my list of pubs to visit, namely because of a bad experience a group of friends and I had here a few years back. However it was on the program, and not too far away either, so I decided to pay it a visit. Basically they were having a Eurotrash night, however once again I had arrived too early, so I simply grabbed a Eurotrash Lager, which was quite nice, and moved on. Well, it seems as if it has had a bit of a change of hands since I was last here, so I should give it a go again, especially since they do offer craft beers, however with so many good pubs in Melbourne, it isn’t one I a going to go out of my way to visit.
As I mentioned previously, I visited Beer de Lux again, namely to get a glass, and instead of heading home I decided to pay a visit to another pub, one of my favourites – the Terminus Hotel in Clifton Hill. Well, this was my first Pint of Origin Pub, and it was here that I discovered that they had a Pint of Origin Passport – basically when you order a beer at one of the Pint of Origin pubs, you get a stamp, and once you have six stamps you get a free beer. The Terminus always has Pint of Origin Melbourne, which seems to be the centre of the craft beer revolution in Melbourne, and there is always, without fail, great beers on tap. I ended up having a Huxtaboy before heading home.
My first stop on Tuesday evening was another bar that I hadn’t known about, though this is more of a bottle shop than a bar, even though you can order beer here and drink it. Beermash was Pint of Origin Scandanavia, which was interesting since I have never had Scandanavian beer. I had a Tool Butter Beer, though it didn’t taste too much like butter. In a way it seemed to be more of a bottle shop that sold beer, and as a bar not one of the best. However, it is awesome as a bottle shop, and I’d certainly consider shopping here in the future.
My trek today would take me around Fitzroy where I ended up at the Rainbow hotel, another of my favourite pubs, if only for the beer garden. If you have been following me, at least on Yelp, you would know that there are two things that I love about a pub – a great beer garden and a rooftop deck. Well, this one has the beer garden, and even has a pool table outside. This was the Pint of Origin pub for Sydney beers, which does make me wonder a bit since Sydney beers aren’t my favourite. In fact Sydney craft beers seem a bit too faux for me. However, I did have a Batch American, which was okay, but not great. I should mention that in Sydney the Young Henry does pop up a lot, but it isn’t what I would consider a craft beer.
Okay, Catfish wasn’t my final stop for the night, but the Forresters Hall was closed for an event (though the grunge bar upstairs wasn’t, which was cool). However Catfish is an awesome bar, though I haven’t been here as much as I like. The event they had here was called ‘Meet our Mates’, which means that the brewers actually come to the bar to actively promote their beers. I had the Breakside IPA, which was pretty cool, but then again I do like my IPAs, unless I’m in London, but then again London IPAs are probably the more authentic IPAs. Anyway, I probably should bring this part to an end, but I’ll finish off with a video of the one really cool thing about this bar, and that is the catfish in the converted television set.