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