Without doubt the biggest event I have been to in Sydney was at the Darlinghurst Taphouse on February 12th. With a packed house on all three floors it seemed like I wasn’t the only one that had heard about this event. Arriving about 4’ish it really wasn’t a problem attaining the special beers, and even writing this almost a week after the event it can be seen that there are still 70% of beer is still on tap.
Though this is Sydney’s premier beer bars, well the only two I actually visit is this one and Harts. I wasn’t comfortable in Red Oak, and Lord Nelson well though cool and everything it was too cramped and not a big fan of their beer. Having not been to Melbourne Taphouse or to any of the bars in Victoria on this trip its fair to say this bar is the premier venue for beer in Sydney. The only problem I feel about this bar beside their hard to navigate website is that there are too many taps. Though its great to boast 20 taps of craft beer, I have at times had beer that has been less than fresh such was the case with Southern Tier Imperial IPA recently. Much like Taphouse Grill in Seattle with 160 taps, its a great idea having that many, but you need the beer flowing to keep the beer fresh. Why have Pliny on Tap if its not fresh? but the opposite of stale is in Koln Germany ‘Kolch’ is tapped is to be drunk within 20 minutes for ultimate freshness..
One of the best parts of this festival compared to Harts Fest is the ability to buy small tasting glasses, from memory they were 60 ml (2 oz) glasses. We got several tasting trays of each beer and based on the beers we found interesting we then proceeded to buy half pints. This part of the festival is how it should be done, as ultimately for responsible service of alcohol etc, 18 half pints is too much even for the most hardened beer nerd. Harts beer fest didn’t offer ‘small’ glasses.
If you view their website you can see many of the taps are still pouring, as well as the ‘rent’ taps that have crept back on the taplist. Rent Taps is an expression I have started using like I had for ‘Footy Beer’ when referring to Tooheys New years back. Rent taps quite simply are those beers that creap onto Craft Beer taps that are obviously popular with locals, and ultimately help pay the rent of the bar. Taphouse Rent taps are Leffe, Trumer Pils & Coopers..
This festival had a great mix of guys and girls and some familiar faces that I saw the previous week at Harts and many new people to beer. I had to smile when I saw a few bottles of wine being brought to table by the girlfriends who do not drink beer. Yes even in a beer festival one can order other drinks.
In terms of the beers that I found most interesting were:
Otway Blueberry Hefeweizen (Vic)
Holgate Imperial Coffee Porter (Vic)
4 Pines – Heavy Scotch Ale (7.8%) (NSW)
Burleigh brewing – Anzac Biscuit beer (QLD)
Was not a fan of some of the bigger beers on the day as I don’t think they were settled yet, and some I wanted to really love but just couldn’t. The 4 Pines beer definitely reminded me of Swans Scotch Ale from Victoria BC that is one of the better sweeter richer styles I have enjoyed in the category.
But for me beer of the day was the Anzac Biscuit beer from Queensland. Anzac biscuits or cookies are famous cookie that all Australians seem to love or enjoy, and to be made into a beer was definitely creative and I thought the most intriguing on the day.
So was it the GREAT AUSTRLIAN BEER FEST ? well it was well run and organised and many of the brewers came to the party with interesting beers but obviously it could be improved next year with Beer Tickets for instance like Harts and many other festivals. But look overall it was a very good festival that will grow in the years to come with interesting beers and attendance.
But I’m sure we’ll continue to see these beers on the menu for weeks to come, much like the German beers that stayed around long after the Octoberfest had come and gone. Looking forward to future events at Taphouse and visiting them prior to watching the Waratahs at the footy stadium this year.