"Beer in Colorado" is dedicated to that divine elixir born of the marriage of water, malt, hops, and yeast as interpreted
by those living in Colorado. Follow the author as he visits every brewery in the state, creates experimental homebrews,
attends beer festivals, tries interesting beers from around the world, and spreads the good word of beer. Prost!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Beer in Australia: Melbourne Pt. 2

This is a continuation from Beer in Australia: Melbourne Pt. 1.  Please read that post before continuing on.

Our next day in Melbourne was a busy day indeed.  For much of the day we were engaged in a walking tour of what felt like the entire city.  Our heads were filled with so much information about Melbourne and its history that, by the time of my writing this, I’ve forgotten most of it.  There were a few experiences, however, that stick out in my mind. 

One of these experiences was our encounter with eccentric opal miner Nicolas S. Le Souëf of Lightning Ridge Opal Mines.  While his demonstrations on opal cutting and setting were interesting enough, the menagerie he’s collected whilst digging about at the Coober Pedy mines was what caught my attention.  As you can imagine, the types of animals that live in mine shafts are not, generally, the types you’d want to have a cuddle with.  Redback spiders, huntsman spiders, giant centipedes, and snakes were all on display along with the rather less cringe-inducing lizard habitat (the blue tongue skink was neat because of its namesake body part).

Immediately following the walking tour we boarded a bus and travelled to Phillip Island to see the Penguin Parade.  Every day at sunset hundreds of Little Penguins storm the beaches and waddle their selves over the dunes and up the hill to their roosts.  It was quite a sight to see but it was also cold and we were exhausted from the walking tour.  We slept well that night.

The next day we put our newfound knowledge of Melbourne to work by visiting Mitre Tavern.  This tavern is tucked away in a wide-set alley and it said to be the oldest pub in the city.  While there, I had a Steam Ale (4.5% ABV) from Mountain Goat Brewery.

Steam Ale
Steam Ale is clear, light yellow in color with a hint of paleness.  On the nose, the beer is yeasty and perhaps a bit sour.  When drinking Steam Ale, one cannot help but notice the flowery flavor of the hops as the beer sloshes over the tongue.  Amid the floral flavors is also a bitterness not unlike the peel of a citrus fruit.  Overall, the flavors are mild.  However, over time, the hop bitterness starts to accumulate in the back of the mouth.  Even though it becomes more apparent, this bitterness can hardly be called a defining feature of the beer.  In terms of mouthfeel, Mountain Goat has thought of an ingenious way for you to keep drinking their product: give it a super dry finish.  After each sip my mouth felt drier thus necessitating I wet it with another sip.  It was a vicious yet delicious cycle.

The next beer I ordered was Dark Ale (4.7% ABV) from Moo Brew Brewery.  Dark Ale is, as the name suggests, dark but also transparent like stained glass.  It is a reddish brown—similar to rust or an old copper penny—and has an eggshell white head.  At first, the aroma suggests the presence of coffee but a more astute nose might place the scent as toffee.  Indeed, hints of toffee are also noticeable on the tongue.  The beer is very low on bitter but high on malty goodness and the overall taste is similar to that of an ESB.  Dark Ale is medium-bodied with a slightly wet feel.
Dark Ale
Before leaving Mitre Tavern we partook in some lunchtime trivia.  Anybody who knows me and Nicole knows we’re unfaltering fans of Geeks Who Drink and, since we had missed our usual game at the D Note, our quiz itch needed a good scratchin’.  We came in second which isn’t too bad for a couple of foreigners with limited knowledge of Australian pop culture. 

Our next stop was in the seaside suburb of St. Kilda.  The first place we visited upon arrival was Luna Park, an old-timey amusement park that dates back 1912.  I have mentioned in previous posts my affinity for the roller coaster and I really would have liked to have ridden Scenic Railway because, firstly, it would have been the oldest coaster I’ve ever ridden, and secondly, with its ornate trains and on-board brakeman, the ride exudes classic coaster charm.  Alas, the park was closed that day and, because of renovations, Scenic Railway would have been closed, anyway.
Scenic Railway at Luna Park
However, with coaster disappointment comes beer success.  We left Luna Park and, based on a suggestion from our friendly bartender at the Portland Hotel, we walked to The Local Bottle Store & Provisions—a beer store specializing in the craft scene.  Fool that I am, I tried to navigate the store on my own before realizing I had no idea what I was looking for.  Thankfully, the man behind the counter was a helpful bloke and gung-ho enough to accept my challenge: if you had to choose four beers to be the face of Australian craft beer, which would you pick?  Through his guidance, I picked up Pacific Ale (4.4% ABV) from Stone & Wood, Hop Hog American IPA (5.8% ABV) from Feral Brewing Company, Murray’s Icon 2IPA (7.5% ABV) from Murray’s Craft Beer Co., and The Ox Imperial Stout (9.4% ABV) from Red Duck.  I packed these away for later use.

From The Local Bottle Store & Provisions it was a short walk to The Local Taphouse—the obviously-affiliated craft beer bar next door.  There, in addition to trading puns with the bartender (like my family and I, she and her siblings often volley lame jokes back and forth much to the eye-rolling annoyance of the third party observer), I had a Coffee IPA (6% ABV), a trial brew from Mountain Goat that is described as “a new world IPA…with coffee in it.”  Yes, it is caffeinated. 
Inside of The Local Taphouse
Coffee IPA
Coffee IPA is basically the same color as the average American IPA: clear and reddish yellow or burnt orange.  I thought that it would have been darker given that there was coffee in it.  Further deceiving the drinker is the aroma that smells strongly of American Northwest-style hops but not of the namesake additive.  Even after I tasted the beer I wasn’t sure I was tasting coffee.  In fact, it tastes more like a chili beer; something about the combination of strong, American hops and coffee makes the flavor taste like a liquefied, mildly spicy pepper.  The hops are also made known at the onset of the taste; the sequence is a hop bite first followed by that peculiar pepper flavor.  The mouthfeel is very wet; each new sip brings a new wave of slobber.  If Denver residents want to try a similar beer, pop on down to Renegade Brewing Company and have a Sunday Morning (6.8% ABV).
Next in line was Chevalier Biere de Garde (7.5% ABV) from Bridge Road Brewers—a clear mahogany beer with an off-white head.  The aroma is sweet and malty and, curiously, smells of both caramel and plum.  The flavors are also an incongruous mix of spicy yeast, tartness, oaken cherry, and the slight burn of alcohol.  While all of these flavors intermingle, the sweet fruitiness overpowers all.  It is, perhaps, too sweet to be really enjoyable. 
Biere de Garde
That about sums up our time in Melbourne but there’s still to be said about Australia.  Keep your eyes open for the Outback and Cairns post.



Our tour of Melbourne taught us a lot about gold and its importance to the state of Victoria. We also learned about some of the architecture in the city which has several buildings with a Venetian influence. Our guide took us to the Queen Victoria Market, Flinders Station, Federation Square, the Old Treasury Building, the arcades (malls) with historic paintings on the ceilings, and she pointed out the Young and Jackson Hotel which houses a painting called “Chloe”. This is a painting of a naked woman that young soldiers would visit before going off to war. She also showed us the crests of each state in Australia as well as the national crest. The crest includes a kangaroo and an emu which are two animals that have the inability to move backward. This represented that the country was moving forward and not backward. These crests are on the former AMP building which has beautiful architecture and is now a very swanky looking night club.
The national seal is on the left

After our walking tour we travelled by bus to Churchill Island and Phillip Island. On Churchill Island we visited the Heritage Farm which shows traditional Australian farming practices such as sheep shearing, whip cracking, herding dogs, and cow milking. They also have several animals that live on the farm. With all the sheep shearing they do, I was hoping that they turned some of into yarn that they would have for sale but I had no such luck. After Churchill Island, we drove to the Koala Conservation Center on Phillip Island. We were able to see koalas napping in the trees and wallabies hopping around. One koala was nice enough to wake up to munch on some leaves and scoot along the branches. The last stop of the night was the Penguin Parade. Along with several other tourists we sat in the rain and cold and waited for the Little Penguins to come home from their fishing trip. They are pretty cute as they try to find their home and their mate. It is amazing that they can find their mate just by their call since they all look similar.
What kind of jerk spanks koalas?
When we stopped at the Mitre Tavern the next day I decided I would try another cider. I had the Gypsy Pear Cider by 2 Brothers Brewery. This cider is yellow in color and one can easily see through it. It has a lot of bubbles with fleeting white foam and a light pear aroma. The flavor is crisp with the pear flavors coming through as more of an aftertaste. It is also a bit tart but with a fruity flavor. I really enjoyed the tartness of this cider. Sometimes I find beer to be a little too heavy.  Cider, however, always seems more light and refreshing.  

We were getting ready to move on with our journey to St. Kilda but the quizmaster convinced us to play the lunchtime trivia. It really didn’t take that much convincing since we were interested in seeing what trivia was like in Australia. Being that the quiz is a lunch quiz, it is geared for professionals getting a quick bite to eat before heading back to the office. The quiz consists of two rounds with ten questions in each round. In addition, there is a visual round with ten pictures. When we played, the pictures were of actors, authors, and musicians. The winning team gets their bill paid for.  Not too shabby.
Gypsy Pear Cider
Later that day we visited St. Kilda and Prahran which were just a short tram-ride away from the CBD (central business district). I was able to catch up with my friend Liz who is a student at NICA (National Institute of Circus Arts). Think of Cirque de Soleil, not the creepy clown that shows up at your kid’s birthday party. She showed us some of the training that she has been doing which is pretty amazing. We learned that other countries have places and products that wouldn’t go over so well in the US. We had some pizza at the Lucky Coq, which is next to a salon called Manhor. For dessert, we had Golden Gaytimes, a smooth and creamy ice confection made with toffee, chocolate and honeycomb biscuit. Thanks Liz! If only the US had some of the ice cream bars that they do in Australia I’d be one happy girl.
I'll admit it, I had a Golden Gaytime in Australia
How would you pronounce this?
One last thing: when we were watching TV one morning we found Geordie Shore, UK’s version of Jersey Shore, featured on MTV UK. Just like the cast of Jersey Shore, the cast of Geordie Shore find cleavage, tanning, and wearing wife-beaters as the most important things in life.  Watch these classy lads and lasses for yourself  at this link. We also saw the commercials for Progressive Insurance featuring the Australian version of Flo, Kitty. “Like” Kitty, the Progressive Girl on Facebook and you, too, can watch the commercials.


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