Since relocating to Melbourne from the grey rat-infested metropolis of London, I’ve spent the past four years scouring your bars for the best pints in the city. From pale ales to pilsners, smoked porters to fortified stouts, I was pretty sure that (up until three weeks ago) I’d sipped them all. That was until I spent a Thursday night with the team from Aussie Brewery Tours, a beer-loving crew who spend their time introducing Melburnians to the best tap-pours in the three thousands. Folks, if you love brews even in the slightest, these guys will help you find beer-vana, all in a single evening’s drinking.
First up, beer tours are funny things: they’re always frequented by beer nerds and hop heads, and mostly dudes, all intent on one-upping each other on cult brewer knowledge or claiming to have paid $300 for a sip of the most alcoholic beer in the world.
As I strapped myself into the Aussie Brewery Tours minibus (nothing cryptic about that name…), I was a liiiiittle bit scared that I’d thrown myself to the lager-loving lions, and that the evening was going to be a little, um, challenging to say the least. Water bottle in hand, I prayed to the goddess of lady beer drinkers that someone, somewhere, would be looking out for my sanity, if not my sobriety…
On the way to brewery #1, owner and tour director Scott explained that the Aussie Brewery Tours aren’t like other beer tours, where you’re handed a tiny taster of one beer per venue and told you need to shell out for the rest. Each venue we hit would be serving us ENTIRE TASTING PADDLES, which by my count, meant 15 beers before bedtime. Dear mother of all things hopped and holy.
As it turned out, Scott wasn’t lying. We arrived at Temple Brewing Co. to be greeted with a sea of tasty bevvies, and after a quick behind-the-scenes tour where we got to pick the brains of the venue’s dream team, it was all about the drinking. Five delicious beers down (yes, you’ll get the award-winning Anytime IPA and the Rye Hard), and then it was off to another epic Melbourne beer spot, a merry spring in my step.
To everyone’s delight, venue #2 turned out to be Melbourne beer nerd mecca, Moondog. Have you been to Moondog? Do you know it’s where the guys who make VB in the nearby CUB factory go to drink ‘real’ beer? Have you sunk your teeth into one of their drool-worthy pizzas, thanks to them having poached the pizza chef from Collingwood’s Lazerpig? DO IT. Do it now.
Our Aussie Brewery Tour VIP passes got us a pour of everything on offer at Moondog, as well as all the pizza we could handle, which to my tispy count, was around eight different beers and at least six pizzas. Beers that tasted like Thai spices, beers that tasted like sour cherry, beers that tasted like Christmas pudding—if you’re a ker-azy beer fan, you’ll already know that Moondog is like a theme park for booze hounds, and the brewery tour is worth it for the experience of trying everything in this visionary brew-shed alone.
To be honest, by this stage I was wondering a) could I handle any more beer, and b) what venue could follow an act like Moondog?
As we swung into Collingwood, I had an inkling of where we might be sipping next, and a drinks card with the Foresters Hall logo emblazoned on it cleared up any confusion. Foresters has an epic 50 taps on the go in its impressive beer hall, and Scott kindly informed us that we could choose whatever we wanted (hellooooo chocolate stout). By this stage of the evening, the beery hang-out had turned into a bit of a party, with everyone chatting about their favourite finds, not a nerdy comment in earshot. Was I actually MAKING FRIENDS at a beer event?!
After a brief debate about whether everyone could bunk off work the next day (note to my ed: I promise I didn’t), the Aussie Brewery Tours team announced that the tour was over, and offered to drop us all home. I had to pinch myself. I didn’t have to get myself an Uber…? Was this a beer tour, or the beer tour of my dreams?!
The next day, mildly hungover and cursing the fact that I hadn’t written down the name of a small batch brew I’d discovered in Foresters, I surprised even myself with my enthusiasm about last night’s beer trail. If you think you know all there is about Melbourne’s drinking scene, think again, and do yourself a favour by making a date with this awesome drinking adventure, pronto.
Aussie Brewery Tours runs day and evening tours in Melbourne and the Yarra Valley. For the latest tour information, check out their website.
Have you got you beer-inspired? Check out our Fave 5 Melbourne Craft Breweries for all your beer-y needs!
Image credit: Temple Brewing Company, Michelle Jarni for The Urban List.