Tag Archives: Bridge Rd Brewers

There is something very special about this parma and pot deal.

What is it with Melbourne and parmas?  As a relatively recent blow-in from the northern states it took some time to get my head around the relationship.  Up north parmas are more commonly called parmis, tend to lurk towards the bottom of most menus and are usually seen as just an excuse to eat a lot of melted cheese.  In Brisbane steaks the size of your head tend to be favoured and in Sydney it’s whatever is trendy that week, normally something fusion.  But in Melbourne the blackboards outside of almost every pub advertise some sort of parma special.  Melbourne just loves a bit of crumbed fried veal, or chicken, or eggplant to go with their beer.

But too often the parma in front of you was frozen not so long before it got put on the plate and the only beers available on tap come from the lovely people at CUB.  One bar/bistro has taken it on itself to provide a venue that not only elevates the humble parma to culinary heights but also celebrates many of the fantastic microbrews that can now be found in Victoria.

Located in Little Bourke St, Mrs Parma’s was opened in 2006 by Melissa Leaney and Fiona Melbourne.  Melissa and Fiona, both chefs with a history of working in fine dining, had the vision of doing something different.  They realised that there was a market for a bistro that focussed on parmas made by good chefs who had a commitment to quality ingredients (fresh chicken and veal, Italian tomatoes, quality mozzarella).  Pub food but at a restaurant standard.  It then seems like a natural progression to realise that if you are going to increase the standard of the parma on the plate then perhaps the standard of the beer in the pot needs to be improved as well.

When All Ale The Big V popped into Mrs Parma’s for a couple of pots and a chat last week, Fiona and Melissa told me that what they do is a passionate obsession for them.  They feel that all of their staff shares the same love and passion for what they do.

The beer list is all Victorian and mostly microbrews with Carlton Draught being the only concession for those that aren’t prepared to take the leap to something a bit more adventurous. Brews on tap at the moment include Flying Horse’s Dirty Angel, 2 Brother’s Rusty Pale Ale and Mountain Goat’s Hightail. Fiona and Melissa told me that the beers on offer do change every two to three months with the exception being their favourite Gippsland Gold, Gippy Gold as it’s known in the bar, from Grand Ridge. Two taps are kept for specialty kegs.

A range of stubbies are also stocked and one of the popular events in the bar is “Drink The Esky Dry” where a case of something new is featured on a Friday arvo.  Melissa and Fiona are committed to helping out the industry that helped them when they were first setting up the bar.  They told me that they had a terrific response from the brewers they initially contacted and that dealing directly with the brewer is one of the best aspects of the job.  When pressed on their favourite brewers they nominated Temple, Red Hill and Bridge Rd.

While beers will retain their pride of place at Mrs Parma’s do expect to see the odd cider on tap and the wine list is ever developing to reflect Victoria’s strong boutique wine industry.

I have to admit that I haven’t had a chance to try one of the parmas yet but I intend to rectify that in the next couple of weeks.  Anyone care to join me?  What better way to while away an arvo.  Good food, cooked with passion, washed down by some great beers.  Sounds like the good life to me.

Slowbeer and the tale of the disappointing list

My apologies for the lack of posts in the last week or so. Unfortunately finishing off the university year had been sucking up all of my time but that is now done and I can put some decent effort back into All Ale The Big V.  Everything will get prettied up a bit in the near future with a lot more links to all things beer and Vic.

I did find the time to pop out to Hawthorn recently to visit Slowbeer. What a fantastic beer shop.  It has only been open for a couple of months but it has already started to gain quite a reputation amongst Melbourne’s, and Australia’s, lovers of decent beers.  With over 600 beers available it’s not hard to understand why.

Chris behind the counter at Slowbeer

Chris Menichelli, who is one of the co-owners, took the time out to have a bit of a chat to me.  He told me that the store is something of a spin-off from Cloudwine Cellars which means that there is a solid retailing knowledge behind the venture.  Chris himself has been working in the industry for about 5 years and has a fantastic knowledge of the beer world.

Some of the Vic brews on sale

The Victorian brews have to fight for space on the shelves with beers from around the globe but they are well represented.  You can find the ranges from 3 Ravens, Bridge Rd, Holgate, Red Duck and Otway Estate just to name a few.  Of course we probably should try and broaden our horizon outside of Victoria sometimes and Slowbeer would be a great place to try something totally different.  Chris told me that they are thinking of perhaps getting a kegerator for the shop which would then allow them to fill reusable bottles.  Imagine the fun they could have with getting brewers to do one off specials.

I know it’s a week late but I just wanted to make a quick comment on the Top 20 Beers list that Peter Lalor put together for last week’s The Weekend Australian Magazine.

It seems Lalor’s list was driven more by what is available on the shelves of the magazine’s special edition sponsors, Dan Murphy’s, rather than any serious attempt at a definitive list.  Does anybody really think that between them Little Creatures, James Squire and Redoak produce 9 of the top 20 beers in the nation? And what about Coopers, Grand Ridge and Murray’s making up another 6?  Are the 15 best beers in the country produced by only 6 breweries?  I doubt it.

I find it hard to believe that anybody doing a serious study of Australia’s best beers would be able to ignore the output from breweries like Bootleg, Feral, 3 Ravens, Moo Brew or Red Hill.  If the list is going to be based on availability or on what is stocked at one particular retailer at least put that caveat with the piece.

Now I wonder what this list would have been like if Slowbeer had been the major advertiser?