Friday, May 20, 2011

Good Beer Week update

The plan was to post a little something about each Good Beer Week event as seen through the eyes of Beer Blokes as each event wound up. As it happens, the nights were longer, the beers were stronger and the eyes were wronger than first planned.

So instead we offer you this condensed Drinkers Digest-esque slideshow of Good Beer Week so far.

Monday kicked the first GBW into gear with the Beer Blokes Gold Medal Beer Dinner at The Terminus Hotel Clifton Hill which saw 60 eager diners fill the dining room to enjoy five of last year’s award winning beers matched to five sensational courses prepared by Chef Matt Merrick. An Englishman by birth, Matt clearly struggled with only one element of the evening. I don’t know for sure but I don’t believe ‘Canapes’ is a French word meaning ‘loads and loads of delicious delicacies served by the tray-load’. Generous!

Once all were settled the assembled beer lovers were treated to a live unplugged version of the unofficial GBW anthem, ‘The Beer Song’ by Dave Elbow and Ernie Skin, the boys known as Elbow Skin in something of an impromptu Opening Ceremony. Good Beer Week was definitely ‘go’.

Way too many highlights (not including any of my many cracking Dad Gags) to list here but the most pleasing aspect was the exposure to good food and beer matching that, for many present, was a first but will not be a last. [Prof’s After Beer Tours safely delivers Chris Mc Beer and the Crafty Pint home]

Monday kind of blurs into Tuesday where The Local Taphouse hosted James Watt of Brewdog fame/infamy and 90 fans for Q & A with the man who consistently finds new ways to market a beer. Highlights include, but are not limited to (in no particular order) Talking To Your Beer, Creating/Collecting Roadkill For Packaging, Lesbian DVDs, Lying To Your Bank and Mother Theresa & The President of Romania.

When I catch up with James again next I must remember to suggest that next time he produces a Royal Wedding Commemorative Beer that he package it in a corgi.

Wednesday and it was off for some serious Goat action. Avoided the queues by timing my arrival perfectly between horde shifts and got down to business. Spent the first hour catching up with beerquaintences and good mates, the next hour meeting new ones and the last hour wondering where the first two went. Finished the night and a goodly snatch of the following morning at Biero with the innspirational beer floggers from Innspire along with another hour of meeting up with a different group of mates. [Prof’s After Beer Tours safely delivers The Beer Diva, The Beer Matt and That Bloke From Stone & Wood from Mountain Goat to Biero]

Wednesday did as Monday and Tuesday had done before it and blended seamlessly (and a little sleeplessly) into Thursday for the inaugural Brewers & Chewers Dinner Party at the Local Taphouse. A glittering array of Beer Champions gathered for an intimate dinner party styled evening. Seven tables of paying punters ‘hosted’ a Beer Champion each allowing for a decent chat without the formality of a Q & A and the opportunity to get inside the thinking of some of the people truly responsible for the beer world we live in.

A delightful mixture of sharing food with friends and equal parts speed dating, musical chairs and a little bit of Twister, the concept was well received and should prove a quickly sold out event again next year. The night continued on upstairs – do you see the pattern emerging, here? [Prof’s After Beer Tours safely delivers a pair of Ale Star Czars in Shandy (StK) and Darren ‘Doc’ Robinson (D) home]

That’ll do for now. Off to the MECC for the 2011 AIBA Presentation Dinner. I hope there will be another spare hour in which to meet those still on my ‘To Do’ list, another for catch ups and another for re-aquainting. If we haven’t caught up yet I dare say I’ll be the one holding up a pillar somewhere near the back.

I’ll post again with the second half of the GBW wrap up with all the award results, the fun and beery frivolity of the BeermenTV Hair of the Dog Breakfast, The Local Taphouse Kiwi SpecTAPular and the Good Beer Week Flagship event, The Great Beer Debate. If you don’t have a ticket yet, you can call Siobhan at Beer Deluxe or go to the Good Beer Week website. It’ll be bigger than King Kong’s bollocks.


Prof Pilsner

Sunday, May 15, 2011

For those about to drink...

We salute you!

Good Beer Week. Heard about it? You may have seen a mention or two in the papers or on the telly? Maybe heard about it on the wireless or at the bar of your local? If you’re one of these ‘new age’ techy kind of young person you may have ‘googled it’ on ‘the interwebs’.

It is set to be something of a landmark event in the beer calendar of what is arguably Australia’s good beer capital city but it didn’t just happen. Well, that’s not entirely accurate – it did kinda just happen at first but it has since grown legs of its own and is up and running like a fat man at a buffet. But with more class.

You can click here if you need more information on what’s on and where but here I would like to take a moment of your time to shine a small light on those who have made this wonderful week possible.

The brains trust began as James ‘Crafty Pint’ Smith, Barney ‘I’m off to Manly’ Matthews and Miro ‘I’m following Barney to Manly’ Bellini who, over a casual chat after one too many (or should that be too few) beers, came up with the concept of The Great Beer Debate as a function to promote good beer after the 2011 AIBA Awards. The abject lack of any sort of celebration of beer in a week when the world’s eyes turn to this little dot on the world beer map was the impetus for quickly cobbling together the idea of ‘an event’.

As is often the case, ‘an event’ turned into ‘a whole week of all sorts of stuff going on all over the place’ after ‘just one more beer’.

Matt Houghton, the man behind every aspect of Boatrocker Brewing Company from brewing to artwork to website creation had his hand up early to help out. A self taught web guy, Matt soon had a Good Beer Week website up and running before many of the events were even conceived.

Bintani, Little Creatures and VAMI lent their support and were instrumental in getting the maps, posters and event guides out to the venues so that the average punter could work out what was going on. It’s fair to say that at this point, the steering committee didn’t even know what was going on.

Then along came Kate Patterson, formerly of Federation Square Events Organising fame, who saw the boys working away furiously but looking just a little like those wind-up hopping teeth that jitter and jive around in circles. She stopped giggling long enough to sit the lads down and formulate a plan to promote and manage the media side of things and to blend all the necessary ingredients into something that looked organised.

Brett Wheeler who many will remember as a 6 foot 28 inch tall former Boomer turned his considerable artistic skills towards creating the illustrated map and other arty bits while Leah Dare, a friend of Kate’s, created the poster logo and put the guides together.

Of course, the various venues and suppliers and retailers and other assorted good beer folk did their collective bit and offered all types of assistance and logistics, but this piece is really just a sort of ‘virtual time capsule’ to ensure that those who were there in the very beginning get the credit they so beerily deserve.

Well done, all. Here’s to the first of what I’m sure will be many Good Beer Weeks. As for next year I draw on the inspiration of many an AFL/NRL coach or any racehorse trainer when I say ‘Yeah, he’ll be better for the run’.


Prof Pilsner

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Beer Blokes Gold Medal Dinner at the Terminus Hotel

Well, Good Beer Week is almost upon us and there are now only a handful of tickets left to the Opening Night Gala (well, the first event of GBW, but, you know, I like to talk it up...)

Friend and top beer bloke Dave Bonighton will be in my very special guest, the beers are all lined up and the menu ready to roll.

Get your tickets by calling the Terminus on 9481 3182. Menu is attached here somewhere ...

Trumer Pilsner

Crumbed pigs head, parmesan mayo

Salt & vinegar tripe

Salt & Pepper Calamari

Crab Cakes

Bridge Rd Chevalier Saison

Black Angus carpaccio, goats cheese mousse, caramelised vinegar, rocket

Feral Brewing Hop Hog IPA

Semolina gnocchi, freshwater crayfish, pine mushrooms, sauce Americaine

Holgate ESB

Slow roasted suckling lamb, pomme puree, mushy peas, watercress & snow pea salad

Surefoot Stout

Chocolate marquise, chocolate beignet, honeycomb

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Good Beer Week

Beer Blokes Gold Medal Beer Dinner at The Terminus Hotel

Time for a little shameless self promotion.

Let’s face it; Good Beer Week is going to be bigger than King Kong’s bollocks and every self respecting beer lover will be hitting venues all over this marvellous town to indulge their passion for good beer and good beer company. But don’t forget to keep your stomach, as well as your soul, nourished.

What better way to kick the week off than with some of Melbourne’s finest pub grub matched with five beers which hooked Gold Medals at last year’s awards, served up in one of Melbourne’s nicest pub dining rooms in the company of possibly one of Melbourne’s top six or seven nicest Beer Dinner hosts?

The Beer Blokes Gold Medal Beer Dinner will showcase a range of beers designed to delight the experienced drinker while taking the novice on a giddy ride through the wonders of beer. From light, refreshing Pilsner through yeasty and earthy Saison, to malty English Ale and hoppy and punchy American style pale ale before finishing with the richness and depth of a big bold Stout this selection will highlight the flavour range, the aroma differences and the colour variation that beer offers.

Alongside the beers will be the culinary art of Chef Matt Merrick which he has crafted to match the flavours, aromas, bitterness and texture of each brew. Diners will experience the remarkable ability of the malted beverage to compliment or contrast the flavours and tastes of the dishes with the malt, the yeast or the hops or to cut through the richness and refresh with its bitterness.

Elements of the much loved Beer Blokes Beer Dinners will be included such as the Prof Pilsner’s Beer Trivia Quiz and BEERducation but a couple of surprises are also planned. After all, it IS Good Beer Week and this dinner needs to set the bar high for those who follow. What is assured is that those present will come away with a greater understanding of, and love for, the amber nectar. And the black gold. And the golden liquid. And the bronze beverage.

Seating is limited and just over half the spots are already sold so get your party together and book a table by contacting The Terminus Hotel on 9481 3182. Tickets are just $79 for five courses matched to five different beers plus all the fun of a Beer Blokes Beer Dinner. The Terminus is located at 492 Queens Pde Clifton Hill.

The Beer Blokes Gold Medal Beer Dinner at The Terminus Hotel is proudly supported by The Crafty Pint – ‘putting class in your glass’. And in between courses you are welcome to pop down to the front bar for one of the lovely Australian craft beers selected by The Crafty Pint himself, James Smith. Crafty will be curating the taps at The Terminus and its sister pub, The Royston Hotel during Good Beer Week. Tough gig, eh?!


Prof Pilsner For more details, the menu and bookings. For everything your beery heart could desire in Melbourne between May 16 and 22nd. For everything from new beer news and venue and event listing to the musical and lighter side of beer. You might even end up ‘going on a march’. You never know.

Friday, May 6, 2011

There's a bit going on ...

Before Good Beer Week hits the ground running (or should that be ‘pouring’?) there is still plenty of beery cheer to enjoy in Melbourne. How lucky are we, really?*

With Wednesdays and Fridays at Mountain Goat, $5 Pint Night at Biero and any number of venues from The Local Taphouse south of the city to The Terminus in the north, Y & J’s in between, a dozen open-to-the-public breweries heading south, north, west and into the Yarra Valley in the east and so much more besides it’s a pretty lame bloke who can’t find a good night out with good beer.

In the past month or Beer Blokes has been out-and-about attending, organising or hosting Beer Dinners from one end of the metro area to the other as well as into the sticks spreading the word on good beer and its remarkable ability to adapt to so many food dishes. From dining rooms with 30 eager souls to restaurants with 100 beer novices, pubs and hotels and other venues are embracing the concept of food and beer matching.

And what’s more, the concept of just getting together as a group to enjoy good beer and fine food is gaining traction. Pubs are once more becoming community hubs in something of a cultural backlash against the soulless pokies-serenading beer barns. They are a meeting house where locals and friends can gather and share and converse over an ale. At every dinner hosted or attended recently strangers have turned to introduce themselves, opinions have been shared and experiences compared. New friendships have been made and contacts swapped. Beer is bringing them together.

But we need look no further than our nearest state borders to see that this climate of beery cheeriness is not universal. With venues struggling to get planning approval and others closing down or winding back due to a variety of factors, it’s a good opportunity to ask what you can do to ensure that good beer and its purveyors are protected and nurtured. Hopefully the more we build the beer scene here the more positive the impetus to do the same in Sydney, Brisbane and Adelaide.

So as we prepare to spend a week of running around giggling like giddy little schoolgirls at a Justin Beiber concert taking in all of the sights, smells, sounds and tastes of Good Beer Week let’s also take time out to ponder this; what am I going to do after Good Beer Week to support good beer in Melbourne? Which venues on my ever-growing ‘To Do List’ will I actually get out to visit? Which venues and retailers will I make the trip to so I can see for myself what all the fuss is about? Which new beer friends that I intend to make during Good Beer Week will I promise to catch up with at a ‘local’ in the next month?

Remember – good beer and its venues and suppliers are only as strong as the market allows. Don’t take them for granted and assume that they will always be there .... next week. Or maybe the week after .... bit busy this week ....


Prof Pilsner

Good Beer Week kicks off on Monday May 15 and consists of events to suit every beer taste and budget. From tastings at Slowbeer and Purvis Beer to Beer Dinners at The Terminus Hotel and The Local Taphouse to The BeermenTV Hair of the Dog Breakfast and the Great Beer Debate at Ormond Hall and week-long special offers and surprises around town – there’s something to tempt all. Check it all out at

*Seriously though, we cannot sit back and take for granted the wealth of venues and events available all year round in Melbourne. Writing for The Critics’ Choice has highlighted to me the lack of popular and retail support for good beer in some of our sister states. We need to get out and support our venues where we can and spread the word at every opportunity.