Froth writer and Scottish comedian Struan Logan has departed our sunny shores to return to his haggis-y homeland. As he wipes the tears from his gingery beard, he pens this emotional farewell to Melbourne’s craft beer scene.
My visa has sadly run out for living in Melbourne, I couldn’t stay here for a second year as I wasn’t willing to pick bananas for three months. I’m currently meandering back home via New Zealand and will be back in Melbourne further down the line, but here are a list of things I’m already missing:
First thing you’ve got to know about me is that I love dark beer, and in typical Scottish fashion, the higher percentage the better. So you can imagine that makes imperial stouts a favourite – and Ramjet from Boatrocker Brewery top of the top. This beer absolutely reeks of quality from the moment you pour the thick alcohol-laden syrup and taste the bitterness of dark chocolate, light oak and caramel of Starward whisky – which is a fantastic choice as can be seen by every brewer now ageing their beers in Starward barrels. The other debate to be had is which version of Ramjet is your favourite: mine is the coffee version while my partner likes the bourbon-aged Ramjet – my least favourite, although I’d still rather drink the bourbon version than the highly praised “best beer in the world”, KBS (Founders’ Kentucky Breakfast Stout).
La Sirene is one of the few Australian breweries that have a unique point of view and clear idea of what they are about: creating farmhouse style beers with a modern twist. While some would imagine this would limit their options as a brewery, they have had plenty of scope to play with and haven’t just followed the herd by making another goddamn pale ale in an attempt to appeal to hipsters jumping on the craft beer bandwagon. When I first came to a bottle shop in Melbourne, the gorgeous artwork of La Sirene’s bottles stood out like a beautiful stained-glass window clearly emphasising their care for quality and the art of brewing over trying to look cool.
Hanging out with Muddy Waters the Catfish with some great beer and eating a Bourbon Bacon Philly Cheese Steak.
There is no need to explain this further.
Moon Dog Brewpub
While Forester’s Hall was my regular bar due to their kick-ass staff and brilliant Tuesday tasting sessions, Moon Dog‘s brewpub has so many things I love about a good pub; laid-back atmosphere, old-fashioned chairs you can sink into along with a new experimental beer to taste every week. These new brews might not always be perfect but Moon Dog have a lot more hits than misses, with the highlight of these being the spectacular Jumping the Shark series for their outlandish stupidity. The 2015 edition is an insanely smooth 18% rye beer, and as I said before I love those high percentages. Moon Dog are a brewery who enjoy splitting opinion and aptly pissed off some of the beer community by adding the word “draught” to their lager in an attempt to trick stupid people who think draught is a beer style. Personally I say good on them, the more money you scam off of idiots the more you have to experiment on 18% beers.
After the business of Good Beer Week in May, GABS (the Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular) is the party at the end of that week in the Royal Exhibition Hall for the beer fans. There is a ridiculously high standard of competition with breweries from all around Australia, NZ and some exceptional internationals trying to brew a beer that will stand out from over 100 beers all jostling for attention. I worked two sessions in a day and in the first one I tasted my way through a ridiculous number of beers that gradually killed my taste buds. The second session was heart-wrenching as I drew the short straw and got the cider bar, you will never be more bored than being in an event with 100 different taste experiences and you are stuck with people who just try the same boring sugary drinks that taste the same. Fuck cider drinkers.
Struan Logan is also a stand-up comedian who can be found on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as @StruanLogan.
Photos by Struan Logan/Claire Hoyda/gabsfestival.com