Friday, February 13

Lend Me Your Brewers & Cider Makers

Pictures by John Kruger (c)

Calling South Australians! Has anyone launched a new brewery or ciderie in your region in the past few weeks? Beer Airways is currently writing a comprehensive touring guide for the South Australian Tourism Commission and is terrified of leaving someone out – three new micro breweries have already launched in Adelaide this year, with a couple more in the pipeline. The new guide focusses on SA's major wine growing regions (the Adelaide Hills, Barossa, Clare and McLaren Vale) but I will also be listing small operators in other regions, such as the Riverland and Goolwa. As part of my research I was lucky enough to meet Ben Potts from Meechi Brewery in Langhorne Creek. Ben (pictured) is respected local winemaker who is currently contract brewing in Mildura but hopes to establish his own microbrewery in Langhorne Creek in the future. Meechi Pale Ale is a delightful drop, with plenty of punch for the hop heads but accessible to newbie craft beer types. The beer is available for tasting at The Winehouse on Wellington Road. Ben and his wife Lucy are exactly the type of artisan brewers I want to include in the guide, so if you know of a brewer or cider maker who is perhaps flying under the radar and deserves a listing in the new SATC guide let me know. Oh, and many thanks to John Kruger for the excellent pictures and research assistance.
Mark Chipperfield

Thursday, February 5

Footloose in Fitzroy (and South Melbourne)

Is there anything better than a couple of days at the Australian Open? A big thanks to Tourism Victoria for inviting Beer Airways to see Murray and Kyrgios in action at Rod Laver Arena (the great man was in the house). Away from the tennis I discovered some new-ish Melbourne gems including the Coppersmith Hotel (pictured below) – my new home away from home in South Melbourne. George Bagios and his team really put out the red carpet. With 15 spotless guestrooms, 18 craft beers on tap downstairs and a smart, modern bistro which has won high praise from The Australian’s John Lethlean, this sleek corner pub is the business. For solo travellers like myself Coppersmith has a well-priced bar menu – try the celebrated fish pie ($26) or traditional Wiener Schnitzel with anchovies, piquillo, egg and olive ($29). Located on Clarendon Street, the boutique property provides easy access to the city, the Australian Grand Prix and the innocent delights of St Kilda. Midweek rates from $220 a night. The following night I joined Fitzroy local and wine guru Dan Sims for a walking tour of Gertrude and Smith streets – one of Melbourne’s happening culinary enclaves. First stop was the Builders Arms, which reminded me of some of Dublin’s funkier boozers, but I was soon smitten by the hot southern fried chicken across the road at Belles. As it says on the menu the chicken is really f**kin’ hot ($16) but totally delicious. Dan washed his down with a Melbourne Bitter, but that was one step too far for me. I settled for a glass of organic Victorian Lambrusco. Interesting! A few minutes later we were tucking into a plate of spicy wagyu tartare ($16) at Lee Ho Fook, a moody little Chinese joint on Smith Street. I must come back for the twice-cooked free-range pork belly and a glass of Dodgy Chinese Dr Henderson (a type of prune tonic apparently). Sometime later we headed back onto Smith Street. Saint Crispin, Habitat, Los Barbudos and the Robbie Burns are all nearby. As Dan says this part of Fitzroy may have shrugged off its uncool, druggy image, but has enough bad assed attitude to keep the night-time adventurer on his or her toes.