Good Beer Week – Day 5. Goats, Tasmanians and the Tramway

Dark brews at The Tramway

Today was meant to be a relatively quiet day. I had planned to do not too much more than going to Goat and Goat at the Royal Mail Hotel, which is just down the road.We figured we would have couple of goaty beers, eat some spit roasted goat and be home tucked up in bed nice and early. Well plans changed as plans tend to in Good Beer Week.

It started when Andre and I decided to pop into the Courthouse for a few Tassie brews on our way to the Royal Mail. Regular readers will know I’ve been to the Courthouse twice already this week and with this visit I can now say I’ve successfully completed one of the Pint of Origin pubs. That is I’ve drank all the beers on offer which I wish to drink.

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Good Beer Week Day 1 – GABS & Some brief Tassie Action

Managed to rescue five glass from GABs

With Mr Mistoffles still rolling through my brain for the about the 18th straight hour (both Moondog and Andrew Lloyd Webber have a lot to answer for) I wandered back up to the Royal Exhibition Buildings Good Beer Week Day 1 – GABS & Some brief Tassie    Actionfor my second session of the Great Australasian Beer Spectapular. It became immediately apparent that this was not going to be the same as Friday afternoon’s session, there were a lot more people and long queues pretty much from the outset.

In fact there were waits of up to 45 minutes for beer (at about 2.15pm), but having said that, the actual bars were working quickly and the delays seemed to be caused more by the stupidity of the masses i.e. people tasting beers 1 to 5 and not getting out of the way of people trying to get to beer 20, or getting to the front of the queue and then deciding to pick their beers.  I’ve learnt over the years that it doesn’t matter how good your systems are you can never engineer out the stupidity of man.

Surprisingly given the scarcity of table space, the queuing and the presence of alcohol and weapons in the forms of paddles, everyone was still in a excellent mood and I didn’t see any agro and inappropriate behavior over the 9 hours I was there. Proving once again that if people can be taught to appreciate beer for something more than a tool to drunkenness and are treated like adults they will act like decent humans beings.

So again well done to the Local Taphouse guys, this was an amazing event.

But you’re here for the beers so let’s look at some highlights:

Wig and Pen ‘This beer is not real craft.’ I’m told Richard Watkins the brewer wanted to swim against the tide and produce a nice palate cleanser to counteract all the big hop, big malt, multiple yeast strain beers. Well he achieved it, a nice little tart beer which isn’t mouth puckeringly so, it also has a hint of fruit in the tail – Jug.

Mountain Goat’s Top Paddock: We were asked to ‘guess that ingredient’  with this one, and I think the answer is Cassia Bark, mainly because this beer tastes like a lighter version of the New Holland which came out earlier this year brewed by Angus Williams at Red Duck. I liked that beer and I like this one too – Pint.,

Invercargill Red Hot Chocolate – This had a wonderful chocolate smoothness in the silky body then a lull of a second before the chilli comes through and kicks you in the head. Brilliant – Pint.

Tuatara Double Trouble – This is a brilliantly balanced beer, really sweet malt backbone and then some seriously big fruity hop flavours – Great Stuff – Jug.

And finally for those of you playing at home you’ll know that in my plans for the weekend I excluded a couple of beers that I thought I wasn’t interested in, one of them being the Doctor’s Orders White IPA. This led to the good doctor himself tweeting me to tell me to give it a chance because it was good. Well I’m happy to report I did, and it is. It had none of the lemony tartness I’d experienced in white IPAs before and was a good sessionable beer rather than a hop monster. Pint

So that is the wrap up from GABS, I managed to try 46 of the beers on offer and there weren’t too many I was disappointed by. The main thing I learnt, well confirmed really is that the New Zealand beer scene is outstanding.  The event was awesome, but I now switch to Good Beer Week mode.

And where better to start GBW than my traditional home The Courthouse in North Melbourne, which this week is the Tasmanian Pint of Origin pub. We popped in for a super quick beer last night, picking up Seven Sheds Razzamatazz, which is a fantastic little beer, light and very fun. It’s like a raspberry sorbet in a glass, helped along by the fact that it’s not too sweet and has spritzy carbonation. This beer made both myself and Jord smile after the first sip and you can’t ask for too much more than that – Pint.

Finally a couple of good beers

A Mountain Goat - Possibly named Craig

So it has been a little bit of a good beer desert on this blog of late, between the Greeks, the British and the hippies up in Byron I’m starting to sound a little grumpy (or as I like to call it English). But fear not because whilst I’ve been telling you about some ordinary beers I’ve actually been drinking some seriously good ones.
Let me tell you about a couple. I’m going to start with Mountain Goat’s latest, which depending on which websites you read and which pubs you drink at is called The Craig, The Craig II, Return of the Craig or simply Craig. Whatever it’s called it clearly has more Craig per square inch than any other beer on the market.
The first thing most people are going to notice about this is the creamy, nitro powered head, which does indeed make this brew a silky smooth and pleasurable experience. Due to the lack of nitrogen beers in Australia, my mind connects the beautiful falling nitro head with the dark roastiness of Guinness (or maybe Kilkenny), but this beer couldn’t be further from that. It is actually a bloody good English Pale Ale, with a nice full malt character and a hint of fruitness in the hops, all wrapped up in a sessionable, luxurious brew. You should seek this out now – I’ve tried it at the Brewery and The Courthouse so those are good places to start – Pint  

It's Iron Lung, a Super Villian in the Fairy odd Parents cartoon series

Next up, and also at The Courthouse was the Iron Lung by Doctor’s Orders Brewing which is a Black Imperial Pilsener (because apparently that’s a thing nowadays). This is a brilliant, if not a little unusual beer. It looks the part being all black and what not, with a nice lacing head. It’s part dark lager, part black IPA, it’s hoppy, roasty, almost chocolately in parts, but also very sessionable and refreshing. Pint
So there you have it, two great beers, both a little left of centre but both great refreshing beers that prove you can make really interesting brews without loading them up with truckloads of hops, elderberries or barrel-aging them in bourbon infused barrels (although I must admit I found a bottle of Barrel Aged Epic Armageddon under the stairs the other day and I’m looking forward to drinking that).

A man walks into a bar and …………

Orders a Pure Blonde. This is a strange choice, not simply because a Pure Blonde is a beer no right thinking man should drink, but the man in question has wandered into The Courthouse in North Melbourne, a pub that specialises in good quality beer.

The bartender is surprisingly patient (I have it on good authority that a patron who requested Corona the week before was offers a cordial instead) he explains they don’t have Pure Blonde, and tells said patron that the list of available beers are on the board above his head. Patron stares are board confused. Bartender suggest a Wheat beer might be in order. This would have gone well except the bartender he mentioned it was called Haandbryggeriet which seemed to confuse the patron. Patron replies that he would like something stronger than that. The bartender (now I assume taking the piss as this request made no sense) suggests the Mornington Porter. Patron agrees and is poured a Porter.

Patron sits at the bar and starts talking to a random old guy. He sips his beer. He loves it. He asks if it’s like a Guinness, the Bartender starts an ill-advised explanation of stouts versus porters. Patron is not listening, he is starring at his beer. He looks up an asks ‘And this is made in Mornington?’ in a tone that suggests that nothing good has ever come out of Mornington. The bartender nods and wanders away, the patron settles into his beer. That’s until he spots me sitting in the corner, he yells ‘Are you drinking what I’m drinking?” I respond in the affirmative “Do you like it?” he yells back again I reply in the affirmative. He smiles and tell “Yeah it is good isn’t it?”

And that my friends is the power of a great pub, somehow this guy has gone from wanting a Pure Blonde to discovering quality beer like Mornington Porter in less than five minutes. And this is why quality micro brewery beer is going to keep growing and growing, and Pure blonde will become the beer equivalent of white bread or twinkees.

But back to me. I’m in the corner reading a book and quietly having a few beers (I’d started with Bridge Road’s Bier de Garde which you can read about here if you are that way inclined). The beer I’m drinking, as you may have guessed is the Mornington Peninsula Porter which is, as discovered by our friend at the bar a very nice beer. It pours dark, almost opaque with a dense creamy tan coloured head. It has faint coffee smells, there are coffee tastes in there as well particularly in the mid palate, and a nice hoppy aftertaste that lingers on. It’s a tad thin in the body for my liking, and it could be a little more robust. But still a very nice beer – Pint.

It was then onto the last beer of the afternoon which was the Hargreaves Hill Topaz and Amarillo IPA.  Now anyone following the narrative of my drinking can see I’m going about this all arse backwards, I’ve started with the sweeter darker beers and now I’ve moved onto the lighter traditionally more refreshing IPA, but I’m living outside the box man, outside the box, just go with it.  

The nose on this beer is filled with hoppy fruity flavours, in particular I’d suggest big sweet melon flavours. The taste is very well balanced. It isn’t overly sweet, nor is it too hoppy. Rather it is refreshing and satisfying. It has a fantastic fruity flavour just as you start to swallow, and then the soft but lingering bitterness just flows through again with a faint fruitiness.

This is a seriously nice beer, it’d be perfect for summer. Refreshing yet interesting and complex all at the same time. I’m going to get all crazy again and say – Jug

 And a interesting fact. That photo over there à under Drinking Mates is taken at the Courthouse Hotel way back in 1927.