Friday, October 15, 2010

Bars - Lessons from Melbourne's beer bars, Spring 2010

Apologies (again) for the recent sparsity in my postings, readers. Recent distractions have limited my time to actually sit down and spill out a decent post beyond the 140 characters of microblogging. Nevertheless, plenty is brewing and I have started to expand my writing endeavors with contributions to the online magazine - Australian Brews News.

Also, to ensure my health is maintained whilst exploring the wonderful world of beers bars and bands,  I have recently entered the world of competitive (or "fun") running, completing my first ever run last weekend with the The Coffee Club 10km that was part of the Melbourne Marathon Festival. Hence, training takes up plenty of necessary time. Next up is the Run Geelong 12km in November (therefore, in preparation...a fair chuck of November may be dry for me)...with the scary outlook of working towards a half marathon later next year...maybe!

As for this blog...there is more than ever to share. Over the past several weeks I have had some incredible experiences, with a whole new side of the local beer and bar industry opening up to me as I delve in deeper to my passion for communicating such things.

Therefore, here are some lessons I have recently learned about navigating some of Melbourne's best beer bars...which I share in hope that it will help make it easier for all who come by here to find and enjoy good beer:

Biero Bar, Melbourne city - ok, Biero is an awesome bar...when you know how to work it! The key to drinking at Biero is to engage the bar staff....although...that is not advertised anywhere, which is a serious flaw because the average patron will not know this - as I found on my first visit, when I struggled to find an available beer that I was interested in. They do need to work out a solution for this...even something as simple as writing "looking for a different beer to try?...just ask us!" on their menus or on the mirrored display wall, which would go a long way to opening up the bar's intent to new customers. And whilst I'm kicking up the negative...they need to work on their website...because it is promoting the wrong information about the particular their opening hours, which I recently discovered when I rocked up on a Sunday - after checking the hours on the website - and found it closed. Disappointed! In case you're is a pic of Biero's current trading hours:

I am also a little concerned for the temperature conditions inside the small confines of Biero during the warmer it is already noticeable.  Sure, that will keep you drinking...but the ventilation provided simply by small windows and doors may need the support of serious fans or air con to keep the bar comfortable on crowded hot nights.

Beyond the bad stuff (which I'm sure will be ironed out, because the bar is still only very young), Biero can be a brilliant place to enjoy good beers.  Their tap beer pricing policy is fantastic - $5 for pots and $10 for pints - no matter what the beer - is the way it should be done, making life really easy for a need to count your pennies when you know it's simply $5 or $ well as providing some serious bargains for the small-batch beers that you will find on tap! Recently, I was in Biero drinking $5 pots of 2 Brothers Voodoo and James Brown...and was in awe of the taste sensation and value! Joy.

When the bar is not crowded, it is indeed a very nice spot for enjoying a beer and a if that if your desire, try and avoid the general peak times of Friday and Saturday night.

Biero Bar Manager, Ray Kent, is an impressive bloke, who will blow you away with his beer knowledge and passion for good and better beer, plus excellent things in general! A chat with Ray has truly converted me to a Biero Bar I gained a valuable insight into the perils and joys managing a venue like Biero (...although, such a chat it is not an experience that every customer will have the pleasure of, so Ray's passion still needs to be conveyed through all the bar staff).

Ray has had to work super hard to bring in some incredible product and keep out the boring and bland macro-beers, as well as establishing an excellent independent profile for the bar, in a very tricky city market.

The Biero team has a beer mission that I fully agree with...and they are here to serve genuine craft beer to anyone willing to try. They are not trying to dump on anyone or keep out/fight against the big beer business...but are offering an alternative to showcase the amazing diversity in the beer world.

If Biero Bar is going to survive...and I really want it truly needs our support. So please, pop along soon and try a new beer. I am definitely looking forward to my next visit...and revisit...and more and more visits!

Beer DeLuxe, Melbourne city - don't be afraid to ask for a taster or sample of a tap beer if you're not sure about it. I have recently found the Beer DeLuxe bar staff to be more and more accommodating for patrons seeking to try something new or wanting to know more about the beers. Further, good things may be on the horizon during the Summer months, as the Beer DeLuxe staff consider exploring supper offerings for those enjoying a warm evening and night out in Melbourne city.

I just wish Beer DeLuxe has a clearer pricing policy for their taps...or, preferably, displayed prices for their tap beers...because you never know how much a tap beer is until you pay and many of the bar staff don't actually know the price until they check the register.

The Royston Hotel, Richmond - there is something about the beer taps at The Royston that makes the big dark beers extra deliciously smooth and creamy. For example, over the past several months I have drunk the Moo Brew stout, Holgate Temptress chocolate porter and Bridge Road B2 Bomber black Belgian IPA and Little Creatures small batch Oatmeal Stout on tap at several bars...but each one has tasted best and had the most amazing soft thick texture when poured at The Royston. Yum!

James Squire Brewhouse at The Portland Hotel, Melbourne city - I have seriously been neglecting this bar, my is essentially a macro-beer bar, owned and operated by big business (Lion Nathan)...and my quest at the moment is really focused towards the small players in the local industry.  However, last week I rediscovered that the small-batch beers brewed in the Brewhouse microbrewery are still worth trying! I enjoyed their Highwayman red ale and the Two Centurions American IPA. However, I did suffer a hangover the next day...which is generally chemicals, preservatives and adjuncts NOT found in craft beers.

The Local Taphouse, St Kilda - as always, there is PLENTY of awesomeness going on at The Local. Unfortunately, my visits there are very few and far between simply due to its difficult proximity from my home. Nonetheless, it is worth keeping a close eye on their blog and Twitter to make sure you don't miss out on some incredible events, beers and entertainment. Their website has also been tweaked a bit recently, which has definitely improved its usability and the information is still far too flashy, graphic-rich and tricky to navigate in an online world which is being optimised for mobility and speed.

Great Northern Hotel, North Carlton - I am yet to visit Great Northern, but I keep hearing fantastic things about this I'm keen to get there soon.

And as a random side, if you'd like to read about some of the beer and food matching events that seem to be popping up at pubs everywhere these days...keep your eye on the Eat Drink Stagger blog, such as this post about the beer and cheese matching event recently held at The Court House Hotel in North Melbourne.

Finally, for online information and resources about Melbourne beer bars, no one currently does it beer than The Crafty Pint website at:


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  2. luvd the post, awesome work... bb
    i was at mornington peninsula brewery today and watch out for their pale ale.. sounds boring but damn for 4.7% ABV it was totally Sierra Nevada Pale Ale fresh!

  3. As always, brilliant pics! Can not wait to get to the Mornington Brewery myself! Actually had planned to do so this weekend...but the weather turned us off. So we're saving it for a sunny Saturday.