Not all beer and skittles

When I lasted posted, I mentioned that I would be visiting and writing about some other Victorian micro-breweries over the summer. Unfortunately I had some less than inspiring craft beer experiences during December and January and as a result haven’t felt much like blogging about beer (to be fair, there have been other distractions also – sun, surf, kids on holidays, a written-off car, a new car and a new job).

So time for a quick catch-up.

Disappointment #1: Prior to Christmas I spent a few days in Warrnambool, the home of the Flying Horse Brewery. I have enjoy their Dirty Angel on a number of occasions and was keen to see where it was brewed and chat to the brewers. I realise that I probably have a romantic image of what a microbrewery should look like but I couldn’t help being disappointed when I appraoched the brewery only to find that it was a modern “laminex” pub with gaming machines and a franchised drive through bottleshop. Not what I was expecting at all.

I took a few minutes to remind myself that there was no reason for the proprietors to run their brewery the way I wanted it run and that they are in business and have a right to make their own business decisions. I was willing to accept that the pokies and slabs of VB probably pay the bills and enable the business to survive and the craft beers to be brewed. So I ventured into the bottle shop (the Friday night swill in the bar just didn’t appeal). I scanned the numerous beer fridges and couldn’t see any Flying Horse beer. I asked the guy behind the counter where it all was and a single half empty shelf was pointed out. On further inquiry it was revealed that the brewery has no brewer and that they were basically just running down the stock of their best seller – Whale Ale. Hopefully this was just some bad timing on my behalf and the brewery will be producing again soon. I still like that Dirty Angel though.

Disappointment #2: After Christmas I had the pleasure of a few weeks in Ocean Grove on the Bellarine Peninsula. If you were to believe the labels, you’d think this was the home of the Bellarine Brewery. I had heard that this wasn’t the case and that all the Bellarine brewing is done under contract at the other end of the State. I didn’t want to believe this but needed to find out for myself. It didn’t take me long to find a very reliable source who said “not brewed here and never has been”. I have nothing against contract brewing except when its coupled with misleading labeling.

Disappointment #3: When I got home to Melbourne, I had the urge to visit my local beer outlet to source some of the great Victorian beers. Imagine my horror when I find that there has been a change of management and, against all trends,  the craft beer range has been greatly reduced. And I can only buy beer at single bottle prices. And the deep knowledge of local brews seems to have departed with the previous management. Its almost enough to drive you to drink wine.

But not quite.

Cheers

 

 

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Great blog…because it is so true. There are many craft beer products around Victoria that are vastly different businesses to the beautiful microbreweries and brewpubs that we love.

    I am yet to visit Flying Horse…but have heard much similar feedback. Bellarine has fallen off the radar a bit lately, maybe they just can’t keep up. They’ve always been pretty upfront by the fact they contract brew at Mildura…but their “Beer By The Bay” can be misleading.

    Oh…and don’t get us started on Tree Troupers! Brewery fail!

    Attending the Fed Square Microbreweries always helps you learn the truth about these breweries, if you want to save yourself the long drive.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Gage Rossiter on February 6, 2011 at 11:11 am

    On the other hand; I was delighted with my visit to Forrest. They only had one beer that they had brewed, albeit elsewhere, but the experience could not have been better. I wrote about it ( briefly)
    http://www.milkbarmag.com/2011/01/21/a-forrest-brew/

    Reply

  3. […] had visited the Flying Horse Brewery and was left a little disappointed. You can read about it here: but the basic premise is that Flying Horse is just a big pokies funded venue, not the brewery in […]

    Reply

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