So a goat walks into a bar…

Well it didn’t take me long to fall back into old habits.


The stupid thing is that I went out and had a fantastic night drinking Victorian craft beers a couple of weeks ago, took notes and photos (all of them poor), all with the full intention of blogging the next day but, of course, I didn’t.

But now I am so all is good. Let’s just hope that some of these notes still make some sense.

The occasion was my first Ale Stars at The Local Taphouse in St Kilda.  Not only was it my first Ale Stars but it was also my first visit to The Taphouse.  Now that I have been I realise that my complaint of it being too far from inner north abode was a pretty piss poor excuse. The place is heaven for a beer nerd. Great staff, comfy setting and fantastic beers. It’s almost worth moving to the other side of the river for.

Just kidding! No place is worth that.

This particular Ale Stars was in fact it’s second birthday and they had invited along some special guests in the form of Barry Cranston (2009 joint Australian Champion Homebrewer), Dave Bonighton (Mountain Goat founder) and Jayne Lewis (Head Brewer at the aforementioned Goat).

Dave and Jayne were there to present some special brews which had been developed recently at their Richmond HQ including one brewed by Barry and his co-champ Ross Mitchell.

It was this brew, the Two Champs kolsch, that was first up on the night.  Barry told us he enjoyed his short time as the boss at Goat HQ but it was unusual dealing with the increased quantities brewing on a scale much larger than he was normally used to.  This is only the second or third kolsch that I have ever tried and I’m just not sure if it’s a style that really does it for me.  Maybe on a stinking hot day sitting in a beer garden somewhere but not on a cold Melbourne winter’s eve.

I knew I’d have problems with these bloody notes (and my beer addled memory).

The next up was Dunken the dunkelweizen. My notes extend to “made with 50%wheat” and my sole tasting note is “cherries”.

That is called professionalism people. Take that those of you who argue that Australia’s journalism schools are inadequate!

In my own defense I do think I was taking a bit more interest in what Dave was saying about all things Goat than in what I was drinking.  He explained to us a bit about the formation of Goat and how it was sparked by the time he spent living in the US drinking the beers from the iconic Sierra Nevada brewery.  He also spoke about his excitement at the craft brew scene in Victoria. He put down any suggestion that there would be a Goat cider despite a lot of goading on the subject. I wasn’t 100% convinced though.

I took my chance to put on my “concerned retailer” cap and asked him if the production levels for the Rare Breed beers would be increased because, as you all know, they disappear off the shelves very quickly. His response was that was just the way they wanted it. They aren’t called rare just for the fun of it.

The third beer up was the Richard III, 7.4% doppelbock, brewed in conjunction with Richard Watkins from Canberra’s Wig and Pen brewpub.

I’ve got a lot more notes for this one because I loved it.  Yummy strong malty lager. Nice amber colour. Flavours of caramel and toffee. It’s all about the malt with this one. The hops are just there to hang out. This one was perfect for the cold winter’s night.

The last beer up for the evening was a Double IPA. At 8.3% this wasn’t a beer to trifle with although I fear a lot in the room did and paid the price the next day. (Hi Shandy).

I think it was a quote from Jayne that I’ve got written down here: “We smash the hops into it”.  I find it hard to find a better way to describe it. Cascade, galaxy and citra hops all play there part in this 65(ish) IBU monster. Normally that would be more hop than I can handle but I think by that time of the night my taste buds were pretty well shot.

Unfortunately, while all of these beers were on tap at The Local on the night, there is no guaranteeing they still are. If they can’t be found there I know some of them will be available at Beer Deluxe and at The Goat Bar in the brewery on Wednesday and Friday nights.

So there you have it, my first Ale Stars. Part beer nerd love in, part trivia night, part night on the tiles.

All of that adds up to a bloody good night out. Can’t wait for the next one.

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