Archive for the Category Australia

 
 

March 23rd, 2010

Australian Craft Beer Finds a Home – in Melbourne

February 12, 2010 – March 9, 2010

For the last month of our trip down under we made a home in Melbourne, setting out to learn why many consider it the hub of the burgeoning Australian beer scene. The city did not disappoint. Straight off the plane, it had same tinge of excitement as arriving in Portland, OR – as soon as we starting tweeting about our visit we felt the buzz of beer enthusiasts. Though the city doesn’t have the 40+ breweries that Portland does, we wouldn’t be surprised if in 10 years it does. It feels like an exciting time in beer here as new breweries are popping up and the demand for interesting beer growing every day.

Melbourne is a huge city – about 3,400sq miles (by comparison, Seattle is 142sq miles, Manhattan is 23sq miles), so we couldn’t see it all but we did manage to hit a few breweries and pubs.

Our first stop was at one of Melbourne’s most successful microbreweries – Mountain Goat. Started in the 90’s by two guys in their backyard, Mountain Goat grew and grew in popularity and they eventually landed in their current and spacious Richmond brew house. We stopped by for the Wednesday night tour and tasting, had a Steam Ale randalized with fresh Sauvin hops and kiwi fruit, and enjoyed the informative tour.  Also, wish we had our bikes in town as there was plenty of space in the taproom for bike storage!

Just outside the city in scenic Healesville we visited the pristine White Rabbit Brewery.  One of the newer breweries in the Australian scene, White Rabbit has just a single beer out at the moment- the Dark Ale.  Luckily for them, they are owned by Little World Beverages (same as Little Creatures), so despite having only one beer on the shelves they seem to have lots of money and resources behind them.  The brewery’s new building has plenty of room for the brew house, bottling line and tasting lounge with space to expand in the future. Currently brewing once a week they have the potential to increase to three or more brews a week – which they hope will happen as demand grows and as they start making other styles of beer. On tap during our visit was an experimental batch of their second beer – a wheat beer. It’s always nice to try something new and different when you make the effort to get out to brewery!

Over the hill and down the road we made another tasty stop at the Hargreaves Hill Brewing Company.  The brewery’s Yarra Glen tasting room and pub is in a beautiful old bank building, where we sat outside on a perfect summers day and had samplers of their 6 beers (loved the ESB!). The original Hargreaves Hill brewery was actually destroyed in the Black Saturday bush fires last year. In the true spirit of the brewing industry, a bunch of the other Victorian breweries let Hargreaves Hill brew in their facilities until they were able to build a new brewery. They didn’t waste any time, and their new Lilydale facility became operational this past September.

Back in the city, on recommendation from local beer bloggers, we hit up Mrs Parmas- a classier version of your typical beer bar specializing in Victorian craft beer and unique versions of the classic Melbourne pub fair, the Parma.  We tried a few beers there that we hadn’t seen other places, including some very impressive pale ales from Bridge Road and Red Duck.  It was a really nice place, but we couldn’t help but notice that the crowd looked a little better dressed than us in our backpacker attire (lots of suits and theater-goers).  At least we know that the beer that good beer is being treated with respect!

Unable to find much variety at the corner bottle shop, we set out on an mission to see where the Melbourne beer connoisseur goes to buy beer for in-home consumption.   Our research lead us to two great stores - Purvis Wine Cellars in Surrey Hills (yes, one of the best beer stores in the city is a wine shop) and Slow Beer in Hawthorn.  The two shops were different in many ways, but they both had the same goal – get the good beer out to the discerning public.  Purvis is a larger shop, about half wine, half beer.  They have a great selection of both local and imported beers, mainly from Australia, New Zealand, the US and Europe.  With the help of Simon and Craig we tasted a number of local favorites (Red Hill, 3 Ravens, more Red Duck) and then walked away with our bags filled with different beers we’d hadn’t seen anywhere else.

Next, we hit Slow Beer, the newest bottle shop on the scene and the only all craft beer shop in Australia.  As soon as we arrived co-owner Chris Menichelli pulled out a bottle of Murray’s Anniversary Ale #4 to parch our thirst. We couldn’t help but think that this must have been what Beirkraft in Brooklyn and Bottleworks in Seattle must have looked like when they were first starting out – small but teeming with exotic and locally brewed beer that people go out of their way to find.

Towards the end of our stay we took a roadtrip to the Holgate Brewhouse in Woodend, a small town just outside Melbourne.  We had a sampler of everything on tap – they brew a wide range of styles, all enjoyable – but the most exciting for us was their new Roadtrip IPA.  They brewed that after taking a roadtrip to Oregon and Washington and were blown away by the hoppy beers in the region, a feeling we can relate to!

Not far from Holgate in the town Daylesford we stumbled upon an awesome little café called Breakfast and Beer. We were super impressed by they selection of bottled micro brews, both local and imported. We had a few beers in their back garden while listening in on the locals discussing, of all things, American economics. Apparently we Americans are doomed- so the bike and brew crew is doing their part: click here.

Extra special thanks to Tracy’s OTHER friend Sarah who put us up in her amazing house AND was designated driver for our road trips.

Click here for more images from Mountain Goat Brewing Co

Click here for more images from Mountain Goat Brewing Co

More photos from White Rabbit Brewery

More photos from White Rabbit Brewery

More photos from Mrs Parmas

More photos from Mrs Parmas

More images from Hargreaves Hill Taproom

More images from Hargreaves Hill Taproom

More images from the Holgate Brewhouse

More images from the Holgate Brewhouse

More shots from Breakfast and Beer, Daylesford

More shots from Breakfast and Beer, Daylesford

More photos from Purvis Wine Cellars

More photos from Purvis Wine Cellars

More photos from Slow Beer

More photos from Slow Beer

For more photos of the Aussie beers we tried click here

For more photos of the Aussie beers we tried click here

And for more photos in and around beautiful Melbourne

And for more photos in and around beautiful Melbourne

and here!

and here!

December 14th, 2009

A vacation from vacation – Gold Coast, Australia

Just a little before 9am the day after Thanksgiving, Tracy and I arrived at the Coolangatta airport where we were picked up by Scottie, my old roommate Beth’s study abroad “dad”.  I’d met Scottie (as well as her “mom” Robyn and “sister” Liana) at Beth’s wedding earlier this year and they’d generously offered to host me if I decided to visit.  Those Australians are so welcoming!  Since we didn’t have anything in particular on our agenda, he started our tour with breakfast at his local surf club on Burleigh beach.  The little town was just adorable and what a great host!  Since he works from home, he was happy to give us rides when we needed and he and Robyn took us to some great beach spots and restaurants.  The real highlight though was the beautiful pool in the backyard.  We had our own little hideaway, complete with a beer fridge, so we spent a few days just soaking up the rays and giggling about how lucky we were.  We decided that even though we’d quit our jobs 3 months ago, we’d been working pretty hard on our bike trip, planning and riding and documenting.  While in Seattle, Los Angeles and Sydney we had started to chill out a bit, but we were still kind of stressing about what needed to be done next and what our new trip “goals” were.  What we really needed to do was just enjoy the moment.  So for a few days we just didn’t worry about anything.  We got up, went swimming, read, and rolled with whatever happened to be going on.  I made a good dent in my New Yorkers and Tracy read a whole book!

A few days in, Robyn drove us up to Mt. Tamborine to check out “the bush” and we got to do something we’d really been itching to do since we’d arrived in Australia – VISIT A BREWERY!   The Mt. Tamborine Brewery was excellent, on par with the American microbreweries we’ve come to know and love.  They had a Pale Ale that they called “american pale” that was very tasty as well as an IPA that we really liked.  Mostly though, we were excited to have a few beers that went beyond the popular Pilsner style here in Australia.

Sufficiently relaxed, we decided it was time to hit the road.  After finding out that a bus to Byron Bay or Rainbow Beach (two places a few hours away in either direction that we wanted to visit) we re about $30 a person each way, we bit the bullet and rented a small car for about the same price in the end.  Tracy was the brave one who drove on the “wrong” side of the road, while I navigated.

We made our way to Bryon Bay first, camping just outside of town because there was no space in the hostels.  Why, you might ask?  Because of a little thing the Australians do called “Schoolies”.  When the high school students in Australia graduate, they all migrate up to the Gold Coast to party – most having just turned 18 and therefore legal to drink for the first time.  From what we can tell, this is a sanctioned event that happens every year and things get a bit crazy.  We got to Bryon Bay just in time to feel surprisingly old.  We tried to make the best of it though and checked out the awesome beaches (filled with some very fit surfers) and checked out the cute town.  We had some delicious coffees (our only real vice) and took a swim in the glorious Olympic size pool.  We also hit up our second brewery of the trip – the Bryon Bay Brewery, located in the Arts Factory.  It was a pretty awesome space, only brewing since August but already the hottest bar in town.  We appreciated the variety of beer on tap and the live music, but sort of wished we’d gotten there earlier to get a real bike and brew style brewery tour.

After Byron we drove up to Rainbow Beach and checked in to a hostel, hoping to make friends and arrange our visit to Fraser Island.  Fraser Island was a pretty amazing place, the world’s largest all sand island with a rainforest, beautiful perched lakes and LOTS AND LOSTS of sand.  Definitely somewhere everyone should check out if they can.  But what really made our visit to Rainbow Beach worth it was that we finally made a plan for New Zealand and came up with our next bike and brew adventure! After dropping some cash on the Fraser Tour and booking our bus around NZ, we decided that when we return to Australia (to Melbourne in February) we want to bike around Tasmania and Victoria for bike and brew down under.  Now, there are a lot of logics to work out (like not having bikes in the country…) but the prospect sounds exciting so we’re going to try to make it happen.  If you are reading this and have any suggestions, connections etc for this leg, drop us a line!

Feeling like we had a little more focus for our travels, we drove back to Scotties, stopping at the Australia Zoo on the way to pet some kangaroos and koalas (check!) and spent one more day on the Gold Coast (and in the pool!) before our flight out.

Beers tried – Burleigh Pale Ale, Burleigh Heffewiezen, Mt. Tamborine – ALL, Little Creatures Rogers, Wicket Elf Pale Ale, Mildura Brewery – Storm Cloudy Ale, Pure Blond, Carlton Lager, Bryon Bay Pale Ale and Dark Lager, Yarra Valley Gold, Murray’s Pale Ale, Barron Boys Pale Ale and ESB, Mercury Extra Dry Cider (brewed by Cascade), Firefly, Fat Yak Pale Ale.

Bikes ridden – zero :(

Life on the Gold Coast

Life on the Gold Coast

Surfers at Byron Bay

Surfers at Byron Bay

Rainbow Beach and Fraser Island

Rainbow Beach and Fraser Island

December 11th, 2009

Figuring things out – Sydney, Australia

Arriving down under without a plan seemed like a good idea, and I still think it was, but there was some major soul searching to be done once we got here – mastering the art of chilling out. The first thing that hit us like a ton of bricks before we even left the airport in Sydney was that Australia is not a cheap place to visit. Our cab ride to Tracy’s friend’s apartment downtown was $50AU. Having traveled most recently in South America, the exchange rate is a little shocking. That $50AU works out to just that – $50. Ouch! Luckily, we had a free place to stay in Sydney while we got adjusted to the currency and the time zone. On her last trip to OZ Tracy met this awesome guy Julian on a plane and they’d stayed friends. Since she’d put him up in New York just a few months before, he was more than happy to let us crash at his place in Sydney for a few days. An awesome guy currently finishing up a documentary on the All Blacks, the best rugby team ever?

It took about 2 full days of wandering around in a daze trying to stay up as late as we could each night (about 8pm) before we really got caught up with our 18 hour time change from the west coast. Thank goodness we are going to be here for 4 months! While we were in Sydney it was sauna hot for a few days and then drizzly rainy for the next few so we did just what you’d want to do in that kind of weather – a lot of walking. Hoofing it for 10-12 miles a day we hit as many beaches and pools as we could find, a few art museums, took and few ferries, and Tracy and Caroline saw the latest installment of the Twilight series. I think my head might be injured, can someone please rip off their t-shirt? Sydney was, despite the cost, a pretty awesome city. It has the exciting energy of New York with the weather of Los Angeles plus the hills, views and boats that make Seattle so dear. That said, once we woke up from our travel daze, we realized that what really needed to do was get out of town. We’d been doing a pretty good job of cutting costs (free museums, making our own food and avoiding the bar scene) but there’s only so much you can see in a city, especially if you don’t want to spend too much money.

On Thanksgiving, Caroline caught a flight to Aukland, ready to take on New Zealand and start her first WWOOFing job at a small farm that just happened to be putting on a play, a perfect way for her to get back into the theatre scene. Tracy and I however still weren’t sure what we were going to do. Since the bike trip’s completion we weren’t really sure what our next step was to build the bike and brew empire. So we also decided we would also sign up for WWOOF (willing workers on organic farms – check it out if you haven’t heard of it, very cool organization) so that we could add some structure to our trip and cut some costs. The first place we found in New Zealand was perfect, an organic brewery! We also found a blueberry farm near Marlbourough, the wine region of NZ. For 4 hours of work a day, we will be staying in our own little blueberry cottage with a full larder of organic food and bikes to ride to the nearby wineries. I wonder if anyone owns the website bikeandwinenz.com yet? We lined up a few weeks of WWOOFing and then decided that if we were going to be in NZ for a while, we better get on with our Australia travels before we had to work! We decided our next stop would be the Gold Coast, where Australia goes on vacation and where I had another place for us to crash. I made some veal and pepper enchiladas for thanksgiving dinner and then Julian and I taught Tracy how to play Texas Hold’um, which she of course ended up winning, and then we went to bed early so get our 7am flight out the next morning.

Beers tried – Little Creatures Pale Ale, Crown Lager, Coopers Pale Ale

Bikes ridden – zero ?

Bondi Beach

Bondi Beach

Hanging out with Julian in Sydney

Hanging out with Julian in Sydney

Preparing to part ways with Caroline... sniffle sniffle

Preparing to part ways with Caroline... sniffle sniffle