Rollicking rock and ballsy beer, what a great way to end Good Beer Week!
2013 will go down in my book as the year Good Beer Week grew up and got its rock on. No longer did GBW hold a fake ID, trying to infiltrate Melbourne Food & Wine Festival forays of tastings and food pairings. This year Good Beer Week celebrated what beer does best – sits in your hand and pleasures your mouth whilst you enjoy the sights and sounds of your surrounds. Now, Good Beer Week events are happening where beer is the common drink, whether it be at social gatherings, barbecues, sporting events or music gigs.
The initial sign of Good Beer Week’s maturing came on the first weekend with The Gathering and the Henry, Mick and The Goat events. However, it was on the final day of the festival, Sunday 26th May, when it reached its pinnacle.
The final event we attended was Young Henry’s Presents: Rock’n’Roll Brews at Cherry Bar. It was my favourite event of Good Beer Week 2013.
The day had already been full of good beer delights, well before Cherry Bar gig began. We started Sunday at the final session of the Great Australasian Beer SpecTAPular, where we sampled over 40 festival brews (full GABS recap post coming soon). From there we strolled down Gertrude Street for dregs of Tassie PoO at The Gertrude Hotel, the Tasmanian venue for the Pint of Origin. Only 2 taps of Tasmanian craft beer remained, the Iron House Lager and Two Metre Tall Derwent Spelt Ale, which provided suitable cleansing and refreshment after the big and varied flavours of the GABS beers.
For dinner we refueled at Lord of the Fries in the city, then borrowed some powerpoints to recharge our dead phones at Beer DeLuxe, which is where we came across a beer we could not refuse – the gutsy good Moo Brew Barrel Aged Vintage Imperial Stout (2012 batch, I think) poured from cask! To keep ourselves sensible, we shared a glass between the two of us, which was still fully satisfying thanks to the deep dark flavours of molasses and tar from the oak, as well as a lovely coffee kick. Beautiful stuff, but probably needs a little more time to mellow.
As soon as I walked through the Cherry door I was hit by a wave of blissful memories and emotions flooded back. I was instantly reminded of why I love this bar so much. Cherry is a dark, rustic, red and black, very conveniently located, small live music venue that pulls an awesome crowd of people who just love to rock. At Cherry people are happy, people are relaxed, people love live music. No one is there to be cool, pretentious or a dickhead (at least not when I’ve been there). The atmosphere is awesome.
The moment was made extra special by the tap takeover for this Good Beer Week event, featuring Young Henry’s from Newton NSW. Cherry is not a craft beer venue. Usually, the beer selection is a long way from good. However, tonight, with three local and music themed craft beers on tap, Cherry bar was the perfect bar. I was in love. Let’s hope this is a step forward for Cherry, a sign of things to come for their beer selection, and not just a one-night-only thing.
Each band had helped design and brew a beer as part of the brewer’s Rock’n’roll Brews series – and each would play a set on the night.
The band running list for the night also acted as the beer menu, which gave me all sorts of warm fuzzy feelings. Beer and music truly melding!
The three beers were outstanding, confirmed by the fact that I found them all highly drinkable even after a big day of drinking at GABS.
First up were My Dynamite and their Smoked Chipotle Black Imperial Pilsner. At 4.8%, I’m not sure what makes it “Imperial”, but it was damn delicious and a rocking kick of a start to the night. It was smooth and light in the mouth without being thin. Full of dark flavour, the little smoky spice hit from the chipotle at the end was balanced just right.
My Dynamite warmed up the crowd with a bubbly rocking set. Lead singer, Pat Carmody, drank pints of his My Dynamite beer between songs and seemed genuinely excited about their Good Beer Week involvement. The band’s sound melded moments of Aerosmith, The Black Crowes and The Darkness. They had plenty of energy and were entertaining to watch.
Next up was Front End Loader and their classic Aussie pub rock songs, rough and loud, just like their 6.66% abv “Fresh Six” Rye and Agave Pale Ale. The crowd was right into the big Front End Load set. Oh yes, the crowd was lovin’ it, especially when they played Fresh Six. It was grungy, it was dirty, it was fun.
The richly golden-amber Rye and Agave Pale Ale was certainly an interest mix of flavours. I found it easy drinking for 6.66%, but can’t recall too much else about it. I’d love to revisit this beer and wonder if we will see it around again.
The Hell City Glamour beer tasted very appropriate for the band, as it felt like the most potent beer…in the mouth. It was only 5% abv, but this Bourbon Barrel Aged Red Ale packed a punch of redness and bourbony oak. It had a big body and some rough edges, but was a very enjoyable red ale that sent me back for more.
During their sets, all the bands made note of their beers, giving shout-outs to Young Henry’s and Good Beer Week, and gave general recognition to beer’s place in rock and roll. I was very pleased to be at a rock gig that also felt like a Good Beer Week event.
We had been to a music and beer event on Friday night at the Spotted Mallard that was very disappointing. It felt like just a random night out, with little recognition for Good Beer Week or even that it was a ticketed event for which we had paid $40 (still wondering what we paid for…?).
Here’s what ultimately scored my votes for this event: the punters…the leather clad, long haired, tattoo covered, hard livin’, hard rocking crowd…were drinking the band beers. Craft beers! Sure, there was still the occasional bottle of Melbourne Bitter of Corona floating around. However, in stark contrast to the usual beer consumption of Cherry Bar regulars, the clear majority where savouring the taste of Young Henry’s rock n roll brews, over and over again. This is what I have been longing to see.
Being a beer geek/nerd/wanker I often seem to end up with the same educated middle-class crowd who cross over with the modern hipster wave, resulting in critical deposition of what is in front of you. The debate to justify whatever can be so tedious at times when you just want to enjoy the beer and the moment. At this Cherry Bar event, it was brilliant to see the opposite end of Melbourne’s culture simply enjoying a good time with great beer.
I long for everyone to enjoy better beer, but the hard rock bar scene is still yet to develop a taste or market for it. They continue to consume their bland mainstream adjunct lagers on mass.
Young Henry’s is leading the way for rock beer through their collaborations with bands. Richard and his brewery are crafting exciting, flavoursome and characterful beers that are a long way from the tastes of mainstream lagers that dominate the band scene. Despite their big and spicy flavours, these Young Henry’s beers are sessionable and smashable enough to find favour with all drinkers. You don’t want huge hoppy ales with high alcohol content at rock gigs. You want tasty and sessionable beers.
A huge THANK YOU and cheers to Richard Adamson for making music and beer harmony. You have delighted a desire I have held for years.
Next up for Young Henry’s is their collaboration with You Am I – Brew Am I.
Sadly, so sadly, I had to be up at 6am the next morning to get to work, and we had a long train ride home. So the plug was pulled a little early on our final Good Beer Week goodness as we made our heart breaking escape around 11:00pm.
I did hear reports that the Cherry Bar party kicked on until after 4:00am and was brilliant.
Well done Young Henry’s, congratulations Good Beer Week, you made my beer week great!
For more pictures from the gig, check out the album at the Beer Bar Band Facebook page.