Oh the horror. Up early on a Saturday morning to visit a brewery. We even had to be there by 11. The only thing that will usually get me out of bed before 11 on a Saturday morning is a full bladder or a hungry cat.
Still, I managed to drag myself to the James Squire Malt Shovel Brewery in Camperdown with some family and friends for a brewery tour, beer tasting and canapes.
Tasting? Interesting word for what was practically all you could drink for the $30 admission fee. Middies galore of James Squire's finest. First up was a couple of beers to get us warmed up for the tour. The tour only lasts 20 minutes or so because it isn't a very big brewery. They probably turn out 40000 litres or more a week but compared to the big breweries this is small fry. It was the first tour I've been on with glass in hand. Or was it? We possibly did that on the brewery tour in Schwäbisch Hall in Germany. Now that was a good tour that finished with beer and sausage.
After the tour Chuck Hahn, he of Hahn beer fame, explains the flavours of beers they produce and what beers go with what food. Back in the 80s Chuck started the Hahn Brewery. He produced a number of decent boutique beers. Back then I worked in a pub in the city, Lucy's Tavern*, and we stocked Hahn beer. In the 90s Lion Nathan, the huge brewer of Tooheys, bought out Hahn and sadly the brewing of Hahn beer was moved to one of the big breweries where what was produced just wasn't the same as before.
The first beer we try is a Sundowner with sushi. Not bad. Next was, I think, the Amber Ale with lamb cutlets. The lamb cutlets were superb and went with the beer like something that goes with something else. We couldn't stop at just one lamb cutlet... or beer for that matter.
Obviously by this point we were getting a quite a buzz on. But we were only half way through. Trays of chicken pies were produced next and they were matched with, again I think, the Golden Ale. Memory is starting to get hazy at this point. Usually I wouldn't go for chicken pies but these were pretty good. The final beer for the tasting was a Porter. Chocolatey and sweet. What better to go with a chocolate porter than chocolate chip cookies? Big ones. Try and just have one.
Sadly (or is it with some relief?) the tasting ends at 1pm and we are farewelled by Chuck and handed a souvenir Malt Shovel Brewery middy glass and a key ring bottle opener. Because it is Saturday and the footy is on, Sydney v Hawthorn, we catch cabs to the SCG and more of what passes for beer at the footy. Awful stuff after the tasting today. The Swans won though.
*OMG. There is a Facebook page called Bring Back Lucy's Tavern. Surprisingly they don't mention me. ;-)
Lucy's was an iconic Sydney night spot, especially on Friday and Saturday nights, where I worked for more than 10 years (the end of the 80s and most of the 90s). It closed down sometime after the turn of the millennium.