Monday, 5 March 2012


College Lawn Beer Festival March 3 

Welcome to Beer O'Clock Australia's first event review! Myself and now very regular fellow reviewer Richo heard about this event through the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival and thought it sounded pretty much like our perfect afternoon!

We gave them a call on the Thursday before and booked ourselves seats, and despite a questionable forecast we were pretty excited! Saturday came and it was wet, but still we made the walk down from my place, and arrived at the College Lawn about 15 minutes later slightly damp and ready for some beers. And we certainly weren't disappointed!

Straight off the bat we were very impressed with the spacious beer garden with ample umbrella and roof coverage from the elements. There were long Oktoberfest-like tables down the middle of the beer garden, with a couple of standing tables around the edge. The layout was centred around a central L-shaped bar area, with one side set up to pour the beers and the other for ciders.

The beer menu was excellent! Basically there were beers and ciders from 4 different breweries (see menu below left), including the James Squire Stow Away IPA, which I sampled in the bottle just the other day! It seemed like the perfect way to start...

We found ourselves a table under an umbrella, and positioned very close to the almost ready spit, which was a great thing as we were starving! The IPA that I was such a fan of the other day, was even better on tap! It was very fresh and the hops significantly stronger than it's bottled form and it was a great beer to go with our food. The food was perfect for the day, roast meat, potatoes, roast veggies, salad, the list went on and on and it was all fantastic. I know this is a beer blog but the food, which went all day, was probably worth the price of admission alone!
Sensational Food!

So as we finished our first serve of food we moved on to our second beer, the Coldstream Naked Ale. This was a nice looking ale, it was a beautiful golden orange colour (according to the notes on my phone.) It was a vastly different beer from what I was expecting, very fruity and an excellent bready malt profile. I remember being quite impressed by this one, being from a brewery I hadn't really sampled before.

As we were concluding this beer, we decided that we should probably start noting some things down about the beers or we would never be able to write this review. All the beers were served by the pint and we had a 21st to attend that evening as well. It was about this time that our two speakers for the afternoon got up and discussed their range available today. We had speakers from both Coldstream and Mornington and both seemed very passionate about their range and seemed very approachable to have a chat with about their beers throughout the rest of the afternoon.

Buckley's Lemongrass
Pale Ale
Despite the absence of a delegate from Buckley's Brewery we thought the Alchemy Lemongrass Pale Ale was definitely the way to go next. Our tasting notes stated the use of 4 different hop varieties in an American style Pale Ale, something that appealed alot to us. This beer was quite different to anything I've had before, there was lots of flavours going on with the different hops and the almost caramelly malts; not to mention the lemongrass. But surprisingly, the flavours didn't clash at all and it was actually a brilliant crisp beer!

As the afternoon progressed, and the rain continued, we discovered that getting a round is nowhere near as hard when you don't have to part with any money at the time. It was Richo's turn to grab beers and this time he went with the Mornington IPA. Before he even brought them back to the table he was enthralled in a conversation with the sales guy from Mornington. Never one not to want to talk about beer I headed over to join in, and of course to get my beer!

This was probably my highlight of the day, he was of a similar age to Richo and I and liked the same sort of beers as us. He was passionate about their brewery and definitely sold it to us, so much so that I now have some of their beer waiting to go in my fridge! A proper review will follow in due course. But for now, there was a big apricot nose which reflected the fruity hop flavour. The bitterness just kept rising and I was hugely impressed, by this beer from a relatively new brewery (it's only been open for 16 months!) After sampling this I need to get some of their Imperial IPA, which has an incredibly 120 IBU's.

The pale ale from Mornington was the next beer, and was definitely enjoyable but it didn't quite stand up to the quality of the IPA. There is a note on my phone which says passionfruit so I assume it had a citrus and passionfruit aroma. I remember thinking it was maybe slightly too subtle to be the fifth pint of a session, especially considering a couple of those were IPA's.

Finally our plan was to use the Coldstream Pilsner to acclimatise back towards the more mainstream beers we would be drinking that evening. Despite the cold weather, the pilsner actually went down very nicely. We got to share this beer with Nick, one of the owner's of Coldstream. He was very passionate about their beer and cider. It was very much a pilsner in the Czech style, crisp, fresh and bitter. It was simply excellent! We were enjoying our chat so much that we sampled the Coldstream cider. I'm a beer drinker who doesn't normally like cider but this was excellent, it was very drinkable as seen by the couple of pints I had of it. The colour was what stood out to me the most, it was just so clear (see left)!

Beer Menu
We had to call it quits eventually to get to our 21st, but we could have stayed all night! The beer was all sensational and the food was excellent! The atmosphere was really good and apart from the weather I can't fault the day at all. It's a pub I'll certainly be visiting again, having I think only been there once before. Seriously if you are in Melbourne and love beer, this is an event you must get along to this Saturday. It's $65 but we would have had 8 or 9 pints and a couple of meals worth of food and a complimentry College Lawn Hotel beer mug, it seems like great value now! It was a great event and if I can get the money together I'll probably be back this weekend. I've attached the flyer above so book yourself in and get down there, it's an excellent exhibition of Australian craft beer and a seriously good feed!

Remember it's always Beer O'Clock somewhere in the world!

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