July 15, 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. Episode one can be found here, two here and three here. Below is the final chapter – Episode four – ‘Five venues, five cabs’…
Saturday 24th May was the last full day of my Melbourne trip. There would only be time for a late breakfast the following day before I had to get back to the airport and return to life’s realities in Brisbane so I really needed to make the most of it. There was a problem though – I felt utter shit. Shitty, shit, shit.
A day of solid ‘research’ the day before had taken its toll on this blogger. There was no time for moping and whinging because I had plans to head to Carwyn Cellars in Thornbury. This fantastic bottle shop was hosting a sour beer event with Bacchus Brewing. Not one member of the little posse that I travelled there with had a ticket – we went there to a) check the place out, b) to support Ross and his brewers and c) to try a few of the twelve rare beers that were tapped for the event.
Checking the place out seems like a weird thing to do – it’s only a bottle shop right? Yeah ’tis but us Brisbanites aren’t blessed with shops like this in our home state – other than Craft in Red Hill and Malt Traders in the CBD of course but even then their taps are only for filling growlers. You can’t sit and have a few beers on the premises hence the novelty factor associated with certain bottle shops in Melbourne.
C) never really happened for me if I’m truthful. My insides were still punishing me for overindulging. I just couldn’t stomach a beer at ten o’clock in the morning although I did have a sneaky mouthful of one or two beers that had landed on the table courtesy of somebody else. They were probably the property of Mark Howes who seemed to be functioning rather well despite embracing a similar quantity of niceties to me the day before. He had sunk his usual multiple coffees prior to embarking in a cab to Thornbury. Perhaps that’s his secret? Or maybe he’s just made of more solid stuff being a brewer? Maybe he’s immune to alcohol? Maybe we’ll never know.
By the time I’d decided that I really shouldn’t traumatise my liver any further (at least not for a few more hours), Ross, Bill, Brendan and Matt from Bacchus had arrived along with ‘Toybox Dave‘ Clarke. We wished Ross good luck for his event and went to find some much-needed breakfast which came at a cafe down the road but not before bumping into some more Queenslanders – John McEwan from Gympie based The Good Beer Guys Beer Adventures along with his mate George. I’d first met these fellas during a session in the midst of Brewsvegas. Small world.
Coffee…eggs…bacon…and a slice or two of sour dough bread and all was OK in my world again. The mysterious and magical properties of bacon will never, ever cease to amaze me.
Time for a beer? Yeah, I think so. We jumped into another taxi and headed to Spotswood where the shiny new stainless steel brewery of Two Birds Brewing was on show to the public for the first time (yet not officially ‘open’). The brewery was hosting an event called The Brewers Blend. Essentially, staff from bars across the land were tending taps pouring beers from their home state. For example Ben, Kieran and Georgie from The Scratch were in attendance pouring Noisy Minor and Newstead Brewing Co. beers.
It was a novel idea and worked really well but it was freezing cold at the brewery! I couldn’t work out what percentage of my chill was due to the climate and which part was the straggling remnants of a hangover.
Worryingly, the beers that I took on board were having zero effect on me. I never drink with the sole intent of getting drunk yet it dawned on me that even after eight beers I felt like I hadn’t had a drink.
After chatting to yet more industry folk from Brisbane (namely Daniel Rickard and Ben Hetherington), we bailed on the ‘burbs in favour of a return to the Saturday afternoon hustle and bustle of Fitzroy. The Gertrude Hotel is where we headed.
We stood outside the pub briefly to gather our bearings when a persistent tapping from behind a window drew our attention. It was yet another Brisbanite – Jack from The Westbender – beckoning us to join him inside amidst the warmth of the Tasmanian Pint of Origin venue. A few Tassie offerings later – Saison (6.2%) by Morrisons Brewery and Van Diemans’ oatmeal stout Stacks Bluff (5.0%) – and we were on the move again…back to the Royal Exhibition Building and GABS for the Saturday evening session. My liver screamed at me in a vain protest of dissatisfaction.
The GABS session was my third and I was beginning to feel like a seasoned pro. I even remembered to eat which is usually a common error on my part. I often get carried away with the euphoria of a beer related event and forget to chow down. Not this time. I filled my face with a chicken burrito from the food court. It was a wise choice.
I found that I enjoyed the Saturday evening session for different reasons to the other two. I was more chilled out and relaxed about it all. I took in more sights inside the wonderful old building this time rather than focusing on beer, beer, beer. One observation that I’d overlooked up to this point was the three-man band known as the Ale Capones. They patrolled GABS playing tunes upon request from the crowd. They were frickin’ awesome and really got everybody going. If you attended GABS then you’ll know what I’m talking about. If you weren’t fortunate enough to be there then have a look at this:
Once the tastiest chicken burrito ever to have entered my mouth had been washed down by 14 festival beers, I jumped into my fourth taxi of the day bound for my fifth beery venue of the day – The Terminus Hotel – the official Good Beer Week closing party had begun.
It was packed. I didn’t really enjoy it. Nothing against The Terminus itself because it’s a great venue with superb tapped beer and keen staff. Maybe I’m getting old because all I wanted to do was chill out over a couple of beers with my mates versus being nudged in the back every ten seconds. Dare I say it – I think I was beginning to get a little bit over beer. I wasn’t tempted to try a white wine or anything like that! Shit, no! I was full of beer and somewhat deprived of sleep. Rubbing salt into the proverbial wound and shortening my already short fuse was a woman – blatantly full to the brim of illegal substances – prancing around far too energetically in front of us. She was higher than my 36th floor hotel room! “Fuck off luv!”
I needed to retire for the night and there was zero chance of me going all Tony Manero on the space monkey so, after a Yeastie Boys’ Mini Matta (4.0%), a Hadouken IPA (7.4%) by Tiny Rebel and a Mochaccino Messiah (7.0%) by To Øl had vanished into the abyss of a stomach, I departed.
No such luck with a fifth cab so a few of us trudged the five kilometres back to the hotel for some rest and shut-eye.
It wasn’t until the next morning that I remembered we had a discount code for Uber. Fuuuck.
I can’t wrap up this final chapter without saying thanks to Mark, Gavin and Michael from Newstead Brewing Co. for allowing me to stay with them. Cheers guys! Part of the deal was that I’d agree not to pen anything concerning events on the 36th floor. What happens 36 floors up stays 36 floors up. Absolutely no problem with that. I will not write anything incriminating. However, if anybody ever wants to chat about it verbally and get the lowdown on this trio’s intimate habits just ask me some time.
Oh, and my Eggs Calabrese breakfast the next morning at De Clieu was remarkably out of this world. Plans to visit Melbourne? Go there for breakfast!
Bring on Good Beer Week 2015.