10. Hargreaves Hill Stout

actual stout not pictured

A sunny Saturday afternoon found Louise and I in Darlinghurst with her brother and his wife, and I managed to persuade them to stop into the Local Taphouse for a quick one. The Local is the Sydney sister to East St Kilda’s original, which Louise and I stumbled upon by accident back in November 2008. Both places are beer meccas, keeping a rotating selection of interesting draughts from home and abroad (16 taps!) plus a good selection of bottled stuff. They also – and this is important – have a nice atmosphere and knowledgeable and friendly staff. If only the Sydney branch wasn’t in the Eastern Suburbs…

In deference to our visitors we shared a paddle of samplers of pale-aley locals so that they might find something they liked. In my 2010 beer odyssey I really don’t think I should be counting little slurps as “beers drank” so we’ll pass over that – and mention what is technically beer 9aKostrizer Schwarzbier, a light (4.8%) black ale with a sweetish tinge which I had drunk in Germany a couple of years ago and was, on this day, one of only two dark beers on tap (well, it is summer).

The other dark beer was part of a brewery showcase for the Hargreaves Hill Brewery. This Victorian brewery was destroyed in the bush fires of February 2009 but has risen, phoenix-like, to be brewing again and doing very nicely. Three beers were on display – their pale ale, their hefeweizen and their stout, which was my choice.

At 6.7% this is a strong brew, chewy, very black in colour, with good licorice and coffee flavours. Worth checking out. Not sure if Hargreaves Hill are up to bottling this yet, but if you find it on draught you should definitely give it a try. Might be worth the 50km trip out of Melbourne for a visit to their brewery tap.

I mentioned above that the staff at The Local were friendly. Well, as we were supping up and about to leave one of them came over to us and, very politely, told us that the table we were sat was reserved for a group in about twenty minutes time, would we mind moving to another? Just as we were about to say that we were leaving anyway, he continued to say that he’d shout us a free beer each for our inconvenience. How good is that? Louise and I had another, and because we felt so welcome we bought another beer after that, what is I suppose 10b, Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Marzen, the smokiest beer on the planet and one of my top three beers of all time. The memories of Bamberg came flooding back with every sip. It was about this time, Mark and Deanna having long gone, that we started phoning Louise’s friends to see if they’d be up for a beer over in Newtown…

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