Next Monday (April 23) is German Beer Day. It’s a day of near religious significance to Melburnians, who, like the Trappist monks of old, regard their craft beer scene as something sacred and holy.
One problem, though: you’re spoiled for choice. Which house of weizen worship will you choose?
Five: The Alehouse Project
98-100 Lygon St, Brunswick East
Beer Geekery; 12 continuously rotating taps of microbrewery beers
Marksy’s Famous Blue Cheese-Drizzled Wings alone are worth the trip to this charming dive and they make a fine pairing with a tall pint of suds. This project doesn’t serve the iconic weissbiers (orange, fruity Franziskaner) or hearty pilsners (Weihenstephan) of Germany, but there is a dizzying selection of craft brews made according to Teutonic traditions. These beers are sourced from Melbourne’s best beer-makers, Mountain Goat and Moon Dog et al, and are best enjoyed in the cosy, tree’d beer garden out back. Prices are decent, too. Once you’ve had all the beer you can handle saunter over to The B.East, Brunswick’s premier burger joint, for their titular triple-beef triple-bacon monster.
Moon Dog hides away on an unassuming street in cosmopolitan Abbotsford, obscured by drab brick buildings and towered over by the Carlton United factory just streets away. Come the weekend, this converted warehouse jives. The Moon Dog boys are a couple of beer Frankensteins and they’ve done some strange, delicious things with hops. Head in on Friday and taste their new Thunder Lips Yuzu. You might even get the chance to lift a Double Lager, Watermelon Weizen, or Sun Cat IPA to your lips.
Three: Grape and Grain
14-16 Station Street, Moorabbin
Beers, beers, beers, and lots of expert info in a cellar-dive hybrid
If you fancy yourself more a student than a swiller of beer, the gurus at Moorabbin’s Grape and Grain have a lot to teach you. They have on tap right now a New England IPA, a breakfast stout, a Czech pilsner, a strong bitter, and a sour ale, to name a few; the idea is, you walk in, ask for recommendations (maybe you ask for something comparable to a beer you like), and sip away the arvo while sinking slowly into one of the several mismatched couches laying about the place.
Two: Belgian Beer Cafe
5 Riverside Quay, Southbank
European beer on a European-style terrace near the water
We had to pay tribute to this Melbourne icon, right? Here’s where you spend one of Melbourne’s few remaining balmy weekends by the open-air main bar, trying Belgian classics from the tap. The Belgian Beer Cafe makes discovery part of the fun, and that’s part of why it endures as a mainstay on the city’s beer scene. “What will I drink this time…” you’ll wonder. A little birdy tells us the golden Trappist Chimay and the light La Chouffe are the hot new additions. While you’re there, spring for a plate of the cheese croquettes. With a beer in hand and a pile of those golden-brown kaas bollen to share with your friends, you’ll feel like you’re sitting on a terras watching Brussels go by. Yeah, it’s not German, but the countries are right next to each other, so go for it.
One: Hofbräuhaus, duh
18-28 Market Lane, Melbourne
Das Original und das Beste
You’ve never done beer the German way until you’ve hoisted a litre-sized stein high above your head to the jovial bounce of oompah music. Some folks say Hofbräuhaus is a kitschy tourist stop, but as anyone who’s been to a beer hall in Munich knows, this Market Lane tavern is pretty darn close to the real thing, down to the traditional Bavarian kit and the way Germans capitalise letters seemingly at random.
Sit down to a heavy timber long table and start with a round of Hof’s Lager. Spring for the litre stein. You know you want to.
Prost! And drink responsibly, of course.