So whilst everyone else was at the Victorian Microbrewers Showcase at Fed Square last Thursday I managed to busy myself with a couple of other beery treats. My night started at my go-to place to meet people before doing anything.
That place is Penny Blue, tucked behind the GPO building, or as I like to think about it near the vortex of the Bourke Street, Swanston Street and Collins Street trams, which means easy for everyone to get to. If you haven’t been to Penny Blue then do yourself a favour and get down there (although not when I’m there as I don’t like crowds) as they have a great selection of (mainly bottled) brews.
I partook in a couple of brews that the kiddies at the Showcase would have been drinking as well, both from Southern Bay Brewing, which is undergoing a renaissance as a craft beer player in their own right rather than just a place that contract brews many of the craft beers we all love.
The two beers we had that night were both corkers. Firstly the Hop Bazooka which is an IPA that is chock full of hops but in a very gentle way, it is actually very drinkable and very refreshing even for entry level craft kids. All this subtle drinkability is overlaid with a massive hoppy nose, all fruity and flowery. I assume the brewer will be happy with the compliment that it reminded me a lot of Epic’s Flying Nun beer – Definitely pint -worthy and worth seeking out.
Second up was a more obscure Southern Bay Vanilla and Bourbon Porter off a hand pump. Now I’m not convinced a hand pump works for all beers, but this is one where the warmer temperature and the gentleness of the carbonation (or lack thereof) really enhanced the beer. It had a great sweetness to it with genuine vanilla flavours and a woody-ness which I assume is what they mean when they say bourbon (as I’m not a truck driver from Hallam or a fourteen year old single mum from St Albans I don’t drink bourbon and thus have no real concept of how it tastes). All in all it means that this is a brilliant multi-layered complex brew and In my opinion the best brew Southern Bay has done. Jug.
From there it was onto the Alehouse Project and a dinner of feral foods, think crocodile, wild boar, baby pigeon and camel matched with a range of Feral beers. The beers were obviously all fantastic, which was absolutely no surprise given Feral compete with Moondog and Murrays in my mind for best brewery in Australia. The surprise of the night though was the quality of the food, not because I think Alehouse Project do bad food, but more so that they turned some odd animals in to some very tasty viddles. I also had confirmed what I always suspected about Barrel Fermented Hog, Steve from Feral nicely summed it up when he said ‘If we made this to readily available no one would drink Hop Hog.’ Proving that the BFH ruins all other beers because it’s just so damn good.