I’m all for a steak and ale pie and I’ll never say no to fish and chips (whether beer battered or not), but beer as an ingredient is underrated. It’s changing with the work of pubs, bars, restaurants, brewers and of course chefs. With Good Beer Week coming up in Melbourne I wrote this piece for The Guardian, which I feel is a mere dip of the toe when it comes to beer and food. You can read it here.
If there were a Beer Festival 101. A lesson in how to create a programme of events that draws in ticker, beer geek, dabbler and novice alike then Melbourne Good Beer Week would be it. I love beer, but I’m a bit non-plussed when it comes to beer fests. I’m much the same with music festivals. I listen to music year round, like to get to gigs year round, not tick the boxes in one weekend and declare myself a music lover. There’s one exception. All Tomorrows Parties. I’ve been only once and crave the next. Melbourne Good Beer Week to me is the beer equivalent. I’ve not actually been but I covet that experience. Everything from the branding, ads with no frothing pint of beer, to the teaser video draw me in. Then the actual programme of events. An innovative mix to educate and intoxicate. Check it out but be prepared to consider a long flight if you’re anywhere other than the east of Oz.
The Crafty Pint is one of my go too sites for the lowdown on the Aussie Craft Beer scene. I caught up with Crafty ‘s James to get the lowdown on his view of beery Heaven and Hell.
In the UK a Bass from the jug at my folks’ local.
In Australia pretty much any Barbie, anywhere with the right people and a well-stocked Esky.
Can you define the perfect pub?
Good beer selection that’s well looked after and understood by everyone from owner to bar staff – ideally with a bit of rotation and some craziness in the fridge – plus good music (but not so loud you can’t talk), comfy chairs (but not necessarily sofas – can be too relaxing for proper beer enjoyment) and a well conceived beer garden. Food optional if everything else is up to scratch.
What’s your idea of Beer or Pub hell?
In the UK, Yates’s (do they still exist?). Possibly the very definition of hell full stop. Shit beer (and wine), clueless staff, bonehead security, dickheads slamming Jagerbomb’s to a backdrop of extremely loud R ‘n’ B and flashing disco lights at 5.30pm on a Wednesday. At least that’s how I remember them!
In Oz, sadly, the most common format: TAB (sports betting), pokie room (gambling machines), monochromatic beer selection, design based on the Woodall Service Station canteen. Thankfully, times appear to be a-changin’.
What’s most likely to be heard while writing Crafty?
Currently, John Grant’s Queen of Denmark is getting a good run with The Lemonhead’s It’s A Shame About Ray; but usually it’s iPod on shuffle, with the Flaming Lips, Alabama 3, Super Furry Animals, Paul Kelly and Aphex Twin having the greatest probability of appearing.
What was the last thing you got excited about – beer or otherwise?
This message from a Mountain Goat brewer: “Just bottled 400 cases of IPA. Tasting great.” Hopefully, he’s mislabeled a few for the staffies pile.
Taking The Crafty Pint interstate one step at a time. Persuading the mainstream media to give what’s happening with Aussie craft beer more column inches. Getting more Aussies to wake up to what they could be drinking rather than what they’ve been forced to drink for so long. More hand pumps and quality real ales in Aussie beer bars. And working out how to lose weight while doing what I do.
If you weren’t writing The Crafty Pint?
I’d be writing about something else with a fatter wallet and a slimmer gut.
Get your daily top up at www.craftypint.com