photo by Jessica Shaver
With Melbourne’s long-term love of beer, and the more recent explosion in Melbourne’s penchant for craft beers, it is no surprise that Good Beer Week is back this year and bigger than ever.
For those that don’t roll on the craft beer barrel- rest assured it’s not about fancy labels, beards and high price tags. Craft beer is all about taking beer brewing back to its origins, where it was brewed in small quantities, in hands-on, small-scale operations, often using regional ingredients. It pares back the heavy machinery, additives and preservatives required for mass-produced varieties.
Our thirst for craft beer is reflected by the broad range of bars and restaurants that stock locally and internationally sourced brews. Several establishments are even dedicated to the stuff (for example, Two Row, Beer De Luxe, Slow Beer, East of Everything, The Terminus Craft Bar) evidencing the changing face of the humble frothie as we know it.
The appreciation of beer’s complexity and versatility is becoming more main-stream, in a way that has previously been reserved for wine. It is therefore logical that some of our most-loved eateries are on board with GBW this year, offering dynamic menus, from Spanish to Vietnamese flavours, skilfully paired with craft brews that will attract devout foodies and hop-heads alike.
These are my favourite picks of the bunch:
- Bar Nacional
Bar Nacional may challenge the way you think about one of the world’s most loved wine makers, Spain, by hosting a 6-course tapas menu paired with Spanish beer and wine. Think Octopus, chorizo, kipfler potato, with Chivite Gran Fuedo Rose and Alicante 1900 Pale Ale. Or Crispy pig head, carrot, horseradish while sipping on Anxo Martin Albarino, and a Rias Baixas Estrella Galicia Pilsner. In keeping with its San Sebastian tapas-bar vibe, expect a fun, communal setting. The night will be hosted by wine guru, Jeff Salt, and beer master Owen Smyth, with interactive tastings, challenges and pop quizzes and the opportunity to win prizes based on skill, knowledge and opinion.
727 Collins St Docklands 3008
Tue 20th May 7:00pm—Late
This may be your first ever Vietnamese-beer-matched-degustation. St Kilda’s Uncle is teaming up with its long-term brewer buddies, Cavalier Brewing, to team up the Cavalier range with the modern and traditional Vietnamese fare that has rocketed Uncle to fame. Expect an energetic, creative menu featuring Cavalier’s especially formulated ‘Uncle’s brew’, sticky ribs with Szechuan cucumber, and beer cocktails smashed with fresh herbs and spices.
188 Carlisle St St Kilda, 3182
Tue 20th May 7:00pm—10:00pm
- Rockwell and Sons
Get your large-format meat on at Rockwell and Sons’ meat and malt extravaganza. Mountain Goat will be rolling out its latest beers with a multi-course meat feast prepared by Rockwell and Sons. Roasty malt notes teamed with rich, smoky meat sounds like the perfect way to eat away the cold snap.
288 Smith Street Collingwood VIC 3066
Sun 18th May 6:30pm—10:00pm
- Horn Please
Horn Please is joining forces with Brooklyn Brewery to host a night of Bombay/ Brooklyn fusion. Vibrant Indian street food will be matched with a range of Brooklyn Brewery beers, and chef Jessi Singh and a Brooklyn Brewery representative will be there to talk guests through it all.
167 St Georges Road Fitzroy North, Vic 3070
Wed 21st May 7:00pm—Late
- Builders Arms Hotel
Builders Arms Hotel is blurring the boundaries of beer and cuisine, but inviting two of Australia’s favourite chefs to brew and present beers which are based on their signature dishes. I’m intrigued.
211 Gertrude St, Fitzroy VIC 3065
Wed 21st May 6:00pm—Late
It’s no news that beer and Thai food are a magical pair, and Cookie sure is embracing GBW. Every day of GBW, Cookie will showcase a menu which matches 10 of Cookie’s signature dishes with local and international craft beers including Temple Brewery, Mountain Goat, Killer Sprocket, Prickly Moses, Hitachino, Kooinda, Blanche De Namur, Mornington Brewery, Lost Coast & Timmermans.
Level 1 Curtin House 252 Swanston St Melbourne 3000
12pm until late everyday of GBW
- Pure South Restaurant
Pure South has gone from strength to strength, one of its achievements being to lure two Michelin star Chef Ashley Davis. Davis works on a philosophy of minimalism built around premium produce sourced directly from farmers, fishermen and artisan producers in Tasmania. This will be matched with beers from Tassie’s artisan brewers – Moo Brew & Van Dieman Brewing, with reps from both breweries in attendance to discuss their selections.
3 Southgate Ave, Southbank, VIC
Fri 23rd May 6:00pm—Late
- Provenance lunch
If you’re inclined to head out of town, Beechworths’ Provenance is pairing up its regional contemporary fare with high-end beers from Europe and Australia. Leading Australian chef, Michael Ryan will express his soft spot for craft beer, and welcome guest brewers from Bridge Road Brewery, Italy’s Birra del Borgo and Deschutes from the States.
86 Ford st Beechworth, 3747
Sun 18th May
- Bimbo Deluxe
Even if you’re a bit over the nitrogen ice-cream thing, you have to be intrigued by beer flavoured nitrogen ice-cream churned up at a Brunswick Street bar. ‘Bimbos’ is taking a sweet spin on beer by whipping up a range of beer inspired ice-cream.
376 Brunswick Street Fitzroy Victoria 3065
Wed 21st May 12:30pm—2:30pm
Wed 21st May 3:30pm—5:30pm
Wed 21st May 6:30pm—8:30pm
See the full list of GBW foodie events here. A number of them are already selling out, so you best hops to it.
In addition to the foodie attractions, GBW will be offering a long list of events bundling beer with entertainment (comedy, live music, board games, and even a work out session!), brewing master classes, ‘Good Beer College’ at Little Creatures Dining Hall (complete with a graduation ceremony), and a beer vs wine battle between Brooklyn Brewery’s brew master Garrett Oliver, head to head with a leading Aussie winemaker at Vue de Monde.
The festival runs from May 17 to 25, and will kick-off with the GBW Opening Party at the Terminus Hotel on May 16.