Venues and events

Sydney Craft Beer Week – a recap

I went up the road to the big smoke for two nights last week for the Sydney Craft Beer Week.
Here are a few reasons why it was tops>

I got to drink squid ink beer: I’ve been wanting to try some beers from Doctor’s Orders for a long while now but I’ve never seen them on tap in Wollongong. So that has meant I have to grind my teeth in frustration as I read the Twitter posts of those lucky bastards who are drinking some.SCBW
That was especially the case with Cephalopod a Berliner Weisse made with squid ink. Now what sort of beer geek doesn’t want to try a beer made with squid ink? Given it was a seasonal, I’d figured my chances were gone ages ago. But Darren – the Doctor of Doctor’s Orders – ended up holding a tap takeover at Hart’s Pub. And one of those beers – though I did try them all – was the Cephalopod.
And it was very tasty, though its colour may resemble the water jar at the end of a hard day’s painting at your local kindergarten. Far as I could tell, the ink only lends that ‘‘water jar’’ colour but not much in terms of flavour. The flavour was crisp and tart, and made for a very refreshing beer, which is why I had two of them.

Brewers and Chewers: It’s hard to come up with an idea that is more fantastic than Brewers and Chewers. Well, okay, as an idea, world peace would be more fantastic. And so would a cure for cancer. So, fair enough, I may have overstated things.
So instead, lets just say that Brewers and Chewers – held at the Local Taphouse in Darlinghurst – is a bloody good idea. What is it, I’ll pretend you’ve said, just so I can answer. It’s like speed dating, but with brewers. There’s seven small tables, at which each person gets a tasty four-course meal and a selection of cracking beers. Also present are seven brewers, each of whom made at least one of those beers. And those brewers each take a seat at a table and chat to the diners, talking about their beer and answering any questions they may have. After about 20 minutes, the host rings a bell and the brewers move to the next table so you get to chat with someone new.
I put on my journo hat for a while, asking each brewer heaps of questions lest there be awkward pauses at the table. But that habit faded the more beer I drunk, and I asked fewer questions and just nodded dumbly at the answers.
I got to talk to the likes of Ben Kraus from Bridge Road, John Stallwood from Nail Brewing, Brendan Varis from Feral, Jos Ruffell from Garage Project, Josh Uljans from Moon Dog and Mick Opie from Kooinda.
Eagle-eyed readers – or at least those who can count – will see there are six brewers there, not seven. That’s because I’d indulged a bit too much, got very tired and had to sneak off home before Two Birds’ Jayne Lewis – the last brewer – arrived at our table.

Taco!: That would be the creation of Two Birds’ Lewis, a hoppy wheat beer with corn, coriander leaf and lime. A thoroughly delicious beer it was in my top three of beers at this year’s GABS, where it debuted. It’s only available on tap and hasn’t been seen in Wollongong, so I had no chance to try it since.
Until Sydney Craft Beer Week, where I made sure to have at least one glass every time I went to a place that had it on tap. There was also a suggestion at Brewers and Chewers that it may finally end up in bottles, which would make me very happy indeed.

I was smart: Okay, smarter than I was at last year’s Sydney Craft Beer Week. That would be where I went to Meet the Brewer, got very drunk and woke up in my hotel room feeling very much the worse for wear. But I had to get up, pack my bag and walk about a kilometre to the closest station and catch a train home. Yes, I felt seriously nauseous all the way home.
So I resolved not to do that again. Yeah, I did feel a bit off-colour the morning after Brewers and Chewers, but a sleep-in in the hotel bed until about 11.30am on Friday morning sorted me out. Then, I left Meet the Brewer at about 9pm, having been so responsible that I was able to get home the next morning without a hangover. Which was great because, due to trackwork, I had to catch a bus home from Central Station – a two-hour trip.

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