With Good Beer Week, arguably the most important week on the Australian beer calendar, now a month behind us, and with our hangovers passing slowing into obscurity, it’s time to wrap up what we thought of this year’s edition, which consisted of 10 days in which we tried over 110 beers over the course of 20 events.
Here were our highlights.
Welcome Evil Twin Brewing to Australia Tap Takeover Party
Our venue of choice to kick off the first official night of Good Beer Week was Carwyn Cellars in Thornbury which, since opening their back bar in 2014, has quickly become is one of our favourite craft beer venues. It combines a regularly rotating list of excellent local and imported beers on tap with an extensive bottle shop collection which is available for takeaway or consumption on site.
In putting together this event, Carwyn Cellars did a fantastic job of getting the non-core/more exotic beers from Evil Twin‘s extensive range on tap – too often we find that tap takeovers focus far too heavily on a brewer’s core range. The beers available included many of Evil Twin’s ‘heavy hitters’ including the appropriately named ‘I Love You With My Stout’ and the Soft DK (pictured below) which was one of our favourite drops of the week – these were sensibly priced with the stronger beers topping out at around $13.00 for a tulip (compared to up to $25.00 at some CBD venues).
Another key contributor to the event’s success were the plates of excellent American-style smoked meats (Jeff claims he had no idea about this when insisting that we go but we think otherwise…) which came with bread and slaw on the side and were quite reasonably priced at $20.00 for a combination of a beef rib and beef brisket.
The Danish Invasion
Aside from being an incredible craft beer pub sitting right near the train station in Werribee, The Park Hotel was also home to the Danish Invasion, featuring a selection of beers from heavyweights like Mikkeller, arch-rival sibling Evil Twin, and various other breweries like Hornbeer and Amager Bryghus.
As a takeover, we felt this worked partly because they put a real emphasis on range, partly because they offered quite reasonably priced ($15.00) tasting selections for anyone looking to taste everything they had on offer (and we did!). On top of this was an equally impressive Danish bottle collection, great food (we highly recommend that mac and cheese burger for a pure carb hit), a fun atmosphere and friendly, efficient staff – proof that you don’t have to be in the city to be a great craft beer pub. The staff also took a genuine interest when they noticed the Brunswick Beer Collective recording a podcast episode which was much appreciated.
Victoria vs Rest of the World Smackdown
This was a ticketed event held at the Terminus Hotel in Fitzroy North (or Clifton Hill depending on your map) and involved pitting 8 breweries, 4 from Victoria, and 4 from the rest of the world, against each other. The event was structured as a knockout tournament, with attendees tasting four beers following some light-hearted ‘advertising’ from the brewers in attendance, ranking each out of 10 and the top two scoring beers progressing to the next round.
This event was great for two reasons, firstly, all the brewers were not only there, but they were quite happy to talk with everyone and to spar with the other brewers who came along – a special thanks to Logan from Beavertown Brewery in London for taking the time to chat to Jeff and pose for a photo. Secondly, because the knockout rounds meant only the best beers went through to the next one, there was a plentiful supply of the amazing beers that didn’t make it through but were still provided for tasting in between rounds of beer combat which added up to around 20 beers sampled over the event. Congratulations to Boatrocker Brewery and their title-winning Ramjet 2014 for flying the flag for the state of Victoria!
Viking Beer vs Pig
One aspect of Good Beer Week which has really picked up over the years which we very much enjoy has been the focus on food as an accompaniment to beer. Our favourite food-driven event was on Good Beer Thursday at Lygon Street craft beer and cocktail icon Atticus Finch which involved matching 12 Scandinavian beers with 12 different cured meats. The beer selection was amazing, covering most of the major styles and with 11 breweries represented and the meats, which were mostly obtained from local sources, were delicious.
A full gamut of cold meats was on offer, ranging from a lovely spicy chorizo, to an amazing jamon made from acorn-fed black pigs to a meaty terrine that lacked the unnecessary ‘filler’ that is present in many terrines. This was the fifth edition of one of the few events that has been running since Good Beer Week began and we will definitely be back for more next year.
The Bacchus Flavour Train
Down a side street near Melbourne’s Flagstaff station, a stop often passed while riding the city loop, is Déjà Vu Bar, a very hip, very cool place, which was home to Queensland craft beer brewery Bacchus Brewing’s tap takeover.
What made this special compared to some of the other tap takeovers, such as the Pint of Origin events, is that it felt like the brewery was an almost perfect match for the bar. The labels on the taps, the signage, and the strange beer flavours featured (there was a particularly good Snickers red ale) all combined for a genuinely complete experience with the bar really suiting the brewery. I think it is with no lie that I suggest that Bacchus Brewing should consider taking over this bar on a far more permanent basis.
In the end, there were a lot of other great events throughout the 10 days, and each had their own interesting charms, but for us, these were the 5 that stood out the most. Of course there is one event that we didn’t mention in this article, and that is the Great Australasian BeerSpectapular. Keep your eyes posted, as we’ll be putting the article up on The City Lane later on this week.
You can also listen to our full after-Good Beer Week discussions in episode 11 of The Brunswick Beer Collective. Available here or on iTunes.