I grew to love beer later in life than most through what I am sure is a common gateway for many. I started drinking beer while travelling and it has been my poison of choice ever since. I love, love beer; beer makes me feel like I am miles from home; back in that small pub in Wales waiting for a train, shouting Prost! with a table of strangers in Munich, sipping an IPA by the Water of Leith, wandering the Guinness Brewery in Dublin or getting tipsy in Philadelphia off a paddle of ales whose recipes came from the Founding Fathers themselves.
Beer is common to cultures the world over. It spins a thread through my journey but also tells the story of many of us and humanity at large. Pale Ales, Pilsners, Stouts, whatever the beer, they all result in the most fascinating learning: the history of Melbourne breweries to the rise of female brewers in Australia. We can track the history of society through beer and today craft brewers are making it more accessible, popular and diverse as ever before.
We are living in a great age of craft beers. Boutique brewers are offering us incredible combinations of flavours and social experiences with sessional lines and unique tasting rooms. Over summer I sipped a golden ale that as it slipped over my tongue my taste buds whispered that I was drinking Lady Earl Grey Tea. Lady Earl Grey Tea. In beer. Weird but amazing combo produced by Two Birds. This kind of brewing is not a new concept – those recipes from the Founding Father’s I mentioned? Benjamin Franklin’s ale featured spruce, an unlikely inclusion today. The genius however behind craft brewers today is how they are breaking down barriers and long-held concepts about the business and the people who flock to the taps. I have often seen Two Birds Head Brewer Jayne Lewis asked to describe how she comes up with her recipes and every time she consistently says it’s based on the flavours she likes to eat, hence their bestselling line, Taco, and what a great place to start.
For long-time aficionados to those who simply love a cold one, Melbourne sets aside a week in May for full immersion in the world of Beer. The theme of Good Beer Week (GBW) this year is aptly ‘choose your own adventure’. If, like me, you are looking to learn more about the process and the brewers head to Beer School. Also like me, if you have a weakness for food and flavour, check out everything Foodie that’s on offer. One of the highlights of my year is GBW’s High Tea. Beer and sweets, who knew? At my first time attending at Grossi Florentino four years ago I tasted a sour beer paired with a delicate apple tart and that was enough to break down a long-held perception of beer as solely a savoury beverage.
Good Beer Week is one of those beautiful opportunities that Melbourne throws at you to indulge, to step right up to some challenging flavours and come out the other side with a story of your own.