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Beer appreciation at the Beer and Brewer Expo Melbourne…and a few Melbourne bars!

26th May 2010

It was the second year of the Melbourne Beer & Brewer Expo and we decided to be part of the action. With kegs from 5 different brewers we headed down for what was 3 days of pure beer bliss. Here is our recollection of the 3 days…

Day 1: Thursday 20th May 2010

Location Atrium @ Federation Square

We arrived early, 8.30 for an 11am start, as we were keen to tap the kegs and start serving to our thirsty comrades within the beer industry – Thursday was a trade only day. With 2 large mobile bars set up and 2 smaller cobra bars we had 8 taps to pour beer from. One of the first challenges was to choose which beers we wanted to tap as we had 19 kegs to choose from! A big thanks to The Little Brewing Company, Hunter Beer Co, Redoak, Paddy’s Brewery and Rocks Brewing for providing us with some great brews.

We were lucky enough to have the selection of the following beers – too bad we only had 8 taps!

- The Little Brewing Company – Witbier, Pale Ale and Pilsner

- Hunter Beer Co – Kolsch, Ginger and Bock

- Rocks Brewing – Byrne Red Ale, 1809 Pale Ale, Cribbs Porter, Sail and Mermaid Bitter

- Paddy’s Brewery – Porter, Pilsner, Old Regret Strong Ale, Pale Ale

- Redoak – Aussie Ale

- Wig and Pen Brewery – Kembery Regional Ale, Rumpoles Pale Ale, Venom and Velvet Cream Stout

The day finished off at 4pm and we headed for an early-ish night as we wanted to gear up for the next 2 days of public tasting sessions… but not before a quick bite to eat and a few beers at the Young and Jackson! The highlight while there was sipping back on some of the Grand Ridge beer range they were serving in the Chloe bar upstairs. The room is famous among Melbournians for the Chloe painting which has graced the walls of Young and Jackson since 1909. The painting itself is approximately 12 foot tall and elegantly displays the curves of a woman… it’s essentially priceless although in the 80’s it was insured for a sum of $3 million.

Day 2: Friday 21st May 2010

Location: Atrium @ Federation Square

The second day was broken into 2 sessions, one from 11am – 4pm and the other from 5pm til 9pm. It was a great day for talking to beer enthusiasts and getting a feel for how much Melbournians are into their beers – let’s face it they are the state with the most breweries so they don’t go begging for choice!

At the end of day, 9pm we packed things up and shifted them over to a new location for day 3 which was also a public session. Packing up was a bit of a frenzy with people trying to get out of there and head to Mountain Goat brewery in Richmond for a few beers before closing time (midnight). By the time we packed up, grabbed a bite to eat and flagged down a cab it was 11pm! We thought there would be no issue getting to there for at least one pint but what we hadn’t accounted for was the flocks of people who would be leaving the MCG after the Collingwood v Geelong AFL game – it had attracted some 80,000 spectators to the ground. The taxi ride was slow and after getting lost in the industrial estate (in traditional Melbourne taxi style) we arrived at the Mountain Goat Brewery. We could see the doors were open but the reality when we got inside was that last drinks had been called which was made even more evident by bar drip trays being emptied, benches being wiped down and people being quietly ushered out the door.

Thankfully our taxi trip out was not in vane! We met up with Mark Fethers from Harts Pub (home of Rocks Brewing) and headed down to The Royston Hotel. It’s a tiny whole in the wall type pub with a central oval shaped bar in the main bar room – definitely worth a look and only 100 metres down the road from Mountain Goat Brewery. While there we had a few different beers including our first White Rabbit White Ale. It’s currently only available on tap so if you come across it do yourself a favour and grab a pint, pot, schooner, middy, 8 ounce or whatever you can get your hands on!

At 2 am we decided to pull up stumps and head back as day 3 had more than 3,000 people expected to attend the expo with thirsty palates.

Day 3: Saturday 22nd May 2010

Location: The Terrace @ Federation Square – outdoor marquees on the banks of the Yarra River

Arriving around 9am for an 11am start we quickly shifted the mobile bars from their holding pen to what would be their home for the remainder of the day - a spot of grass under a large marquee hugged by the slow flowing Yarra River.

Right on the strike of 11am beer lovers starting flowing through the marquee, requesting to be served some golden (and sometimes not so golden) liquid. From 11am til 5 pm we didn’t stop serving beers to our new friends who were ever so happy to have a chat about the beers we had on offer. Come 5pm we again packed up as quickly as possible as there were a few more beer venues we had not yet had the chance to visit and it was our last night in Melbourne.

We headed to Beer Deluxe for dinner which is located in Fed Square. It’s a great place to eat, read beer quotes on the wall and chew the fat with other beer minded individuals. After enjoying a few beers there, including a Mussel Stout from Bellarine Brewing Company we decided it was time to visit another establishment… Cookies.

Not knowing exactly where Cookies was, and thinking we had to get a cab to get there, we were pleasantly surprised when Richard’s iPhone filled in the knowledge gap – it was 60 metres north of our hotel! We only stayed for an hour but were pleasantly surprised by the ambience and how such an old school building had been converted with different levels of beer (and entertainment) heaven.

If you haven’t been to a Beer and Brewer Expo or visited some of Melbourne’s different watering holes why not make it a bit of a road trip or long weekend out of it next year. For those based on the east coast stay tuned as the word on the street is that the Beer and Brewer may venture up the coast in the not too distant future.