May 27, 2014 by 250 Beers
Melbourne’s Good Beer Week was in fact only three days long for me. I headed down from Brisbane on Thursday 22nd May to overindulge in the final stages. The visit enabled the consumption of 95 beers of various sizes – 85 of them different, 72 of them unique to me. It also saw me take in a number of events – two of them major. I’ve decided to break up my experiences, shenanigans and memory loss induced skullduggery into a number of episodes. Here is the first – it’s titled ‘Blogger Burger’…
My journey started at 8.30am on day six of Good Beer Week (or #GBW14 as I was already accustomed to hashtagging it on social media) with a train trip south from home to Eagle Junction and then a connecting service out to the domestic terminal at Brisbane Airport. I felt pretty good about myself having already served two good deeds for the day. One was assisting an elderly Sydney bound lady with her baggage all the way to the airport from the same local train station as me. It was totally unplanned and only started because no other ass hole would help her step up onto the train. The second was preventing a Peruvian chap – with next to zero English in his vocabulary – boarding the incorrect train at Eagle Junction. He would have been in for a nasty shock if he’d gone searching for his flight in Sandgate!
I was feeling chipper.
My chipperness (what?) eroded once my Boeing 737-800 ride had bumped gently along one of Melbourne’s Tullamarine runways. You see, Virgin Australia’s ground crew had planted the attachable/detachable walkway-in-the-sky-on-wheels thing incorrectly at the front exit of the aeroplane. It was only noticed when the cabin crew couldn’t open the door of the aircraft from the inside. At that moment in time, yours truly was more than halfway down some steps at the rear exit of our bird. I was nearer to terra firma than the door I had just exited yet – and I shit you not – they turned everybody around and asked us to take a seat while they reversed the plane by a grand total of forty-five centimetres!!! I grimaced because I’d arranged to meet a number of fellow bloggers at Brother Burger & The Marvellous Brew in Fitzroy and the faux pas had added an extra half an hour to an already delayed landing. Boo!
Then it was downhill all the way – although not literally of course because Melbourne is the flattest city that I’ve visited for quite some time. No, instances such as my checked-in luggage being the very last to appear on the carousel at the baggage claim and then having to stop at every single red traffic light en route to my hotel in the SkyBus (which is a fabulous service by the way). My great start to the day was now being scuppered by farce. I dislike being late. Anyway, I dumped my stuff in the apartment that I was sharing with three members of the Newstead Brewing Co. team, hailed a cab to Fitzroy and arrived at Brother Burger well over an hour later than planned.
Brother Burger was the host Pint of Origin (PoO) venue for Queensland breweries. In a nutshell there were a total of ten venues each showcasing beers originating from either a featured Australian state (of which there were six), New Zealand, Europe, USA or Rest of the World. These venues then dedicated their taps to pouring the finest beers from their nominated state/country for the entire duration of Good Beer Week.
Tapping their fingers and checking their watches incessantly were Liam and Ammo from Drunken Speculation (QLD), Glen from Beer Is Your Friend (NSW) and Pia from Girl+Beer (WA). I apologised to everybody for being late, recited my story (there’s always a story!) and chugged my first Good Beer Week beer – Beard & Brau’s 5.5% Black Snout milk stout – and it went down a treat. Even if Black Snout had been shit (which it wasn’t) I wouldn’t have complained. Any beer was going to hit the spot after a day of travel.
Liam, Ammo and I all reside in Queensland so it didn’t take us long to realise that the Brother Burger beer menu was extremely familiar to us. Offerings from Green Beacon, 4 Hearts Brewing, Bacchus Brewing, Burleigh Brewing and Beard & Brau had all been tried and tested many times before. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that however when exposed to a place like Melbourne that is running rife with an incomprehensible and almost endless variety of beers that are rarely seen in our home state we decided to move on.
The three of us strolled a kilometre back down Brunswick Street to the NSW PoO venue – The Rainbow Hotel. This place reminded me of a simple old London pub – the type that was built amongst red bricked housing estates during the 1950’s throughout the back streets of inner suburbia. Nothing fancy just a square, corner pub oozing warm charm and character aplenty.
As we wandered in via the covered, rear outdoor area I laid eyes on another blogger – Scott Thompson from The Fermented Follicle (VIC). He suggested that the twenty-dollar tasting paddles were tough to ignore. In return for our cash we would be able to select six different beers (200ml serves) from a list of eight. Scott was correct and I was begging the lady behind the bar to take my money before I’d chosen my beers and before Scott had even finished his sentence.
Trying to pick beers that I’ve never tried before is easy during Good Beer Week because they are everywhere. It’s almost a guarantee that something classy will surface too. Imagine our delight when we realised that the last beer on the list was Thirsty Crow’s Vanilla Milk Stout (5.2%) – number ten in the Hottest 100 Aussie Craft Beer countdown earlier this year. I haven’t seen this beer in Brisbane before which isn’t to say that it hasn’t been on tap here I just haven’t seen it around. I savoured every last drop because it truly is worthy of the plaudits. Delicately sweet, soft and smooth.
I’d been in Melbourne just over two hours, tried seven new beers, put faces to two bloggers that I hadn’t met before (Pia and Scott) and I was chipper again. Sadly, it was time to part company with the DrunkSpec duet and head back to my hotel room for the proverbial three S’s and to don my glad rags in time for the start of the Australian International Beer Awards (AIBA) function that evening – the world’s second largest awards of its kind…
Stay tuned for Episode Two…