This week Sydney on Tap is bringing you a close look at some of the goings-on around the city during Sydney Craft Beer Week (or SCBW). Kicking off the festivities was the opening gala at the Sydney Portuguese Community Club in Sydenham - a large venue that played host to breweries from all around the country on Friday night. With a Grill’d food truck waiting patiently outside for the masses to descend upon it and all the beer stands bordering a large hall we were ready to dive in and see what they had on offer.
The night worked by purchasing redeemable drinks tokens and trading them in for a sample (about half a schooner) of whichever craft beer took your fancy. Now we didn’t get a chance to try them all, (mostly because there were only two of us and we need our livers functional for the rest of the week) but the ones we did try were incredibly varied and some of the most unique tasting beers I have ever tried. We had nineteen breweries to choose from and we started with our mates at 4 Pines. The first beer of the night was the 4 Pines Christmas Saison, a great fruity and aromatic ale, a common theme it seemed as the night progressed. From here we moved to Batch Brewing where I tried a beer called ‘Tiny Coconut Bubbles’ which, yes, both contained and tasted like coconuts. The brewer we spoke to described it as a piña colada in beer form - a very apt description I found. This definitely isn’t a beer you’d smash a 6 pack of, but it’s a great unique one to have by itself.
Next up was one of my personal favourite breweries, Stone & Wood. It’s no secret to anyone who reads our beer reviews that Stone & Wood’s Pacific Ale rates quite highly here at Sydney on Tap, and upon disclosing this to their representative, a young man named Pat (good name good name) he gave me a Garden Ale to try. Whilst retaining the light fruitiness of their Pacific Ale, this Byron Bay based brewery managed to mix things up a bit with this one by being a little more citrusy and conveyed the taste of a few different herbs that was incredibly aromatic. Garden Ale is an apt name.
After venturing outside into a courtyard lit with fairy lights and mingling with other patrons and smashing a couple burgers we were back to it for Round 2 - we had barely scratched the surface.
First up was a Pirate Life Pale Ale. We spoke to Pirate Life and they’re quite the success story. With foundations in Adelaide, this brewery has managed to reach Perth, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney all within 6 months of opening. Upon first look at their Pale Ale we noticed that it was quite dark, especially for a drink with ‘pale’ in the name. The ale itself had a nice fruity aroma and a stronger, bitter taste.
Gage Roads was up next with their Single Fin Summer Ale, a light and fruity affair which contrasted directly with our next beer - a very strong, bitter yet citrusy IPA from Brewcult named ‘Can’t Fight The Funk’.
Following was possibly the most unique beer we tried that night, and was a hit with the crowd it seemed, judging by the endless stream of people approaching asking for the same beer. The brewery was The Grifter Brewing Co. and the beer was a watermelon pilsner called Serpent’s Kiss. With a peculiar smell and a very light mouthfeel and texture, this beer lived up to its naming, providing a definitive taste of watermelon in a drink where I never thought watermelon would work, but here we are and the crowd was lovin’ it.
Whilst many other breweries were present the night was naturally winding down and so we decided to go with one last beer at a stand where the brewers shirts had come clean off probably like 10 minutes into the event let’s be honest. The final beer for the night was a Young Henry’s Porter with - and here’s the kicker - a shot of Jameson Whisky. You take a swig of the beer and you flush it down with a little whisky to create a crazy blend of sweet and bitter (I think we call that bittersweet). A unique experience that you’d never expect, but the reaction from pretty much everyone who tried it was “holy sh*t that’s amazing”.
So that was it for us. We sampled a great range of different beers, exploring dark to light and incredibly bitter to incredibly fruity all within 10 metres of each other. We emerged from the hall, through the bustling courtyard and the crowd around the Grill’d truck, completely satisfied and eager to see what the rest of the week had in store.
A huge thank you to the organisers of the event for creating a great night with a friendly, welcoming and keen atmosphere, and for the invitation extended towards Sydney on Tap.
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thoughts & feelings - extended edition
This is where we at Sydney On Tap post all the things that couldn't fit into the paragraphs on each bar page, or the comments under each beer.