Last week saw us wandering the desolate streets of Launceston, blundering upon good beer in the middle of nowhere, and being unsettled by the Jonestown-vibe at the White Sands estate. So without further ado, dear reader, I present part two of my pseudo beer odyssey through Tasmania, which begins on the road to Port Arthur and the incredible Stewart’s Bay.
On the way, we stopped at a local bottle-o to pick up some local pinot noir for Al, and to see if there was anything new for me to try. I managed to pick up the oft spoken of – but never seen north of Bass Straight – Boag’s XXX Ale and Wizard Smith Ale. First up, the XXX Ale is clearly, actually a lager. While I know I should just judge a beer on its merits, ales are ales and lagers are lagers. I personally don’t see any reason to call a beer something it’s not (unless you’re trying to treat your customers with contempt), but I digress. The XXX “Ale” is probably the best Australian industrial lager I can remember having, although that doesn’t really mean much given the other dismal offerings of the Big Two. The backdrop may have influenced this assessment too, now that I think about it.
The Wizard Smith Ale is an English style pale ale with a surprising amount of flavour, and by my reckoning is the strongest of the Boag’s range. There is actually a discernable taste of caramel, toffee malts and slight bitterness. It’s a real shame that this isn’t available Australia-wide – it would give me an alternative to drinking Toohey’s Old at RSLs, Bowlsies and big pubs everywhere.
The Port Arthur historical site is just thoroughly excellent and a credit to all involved. They were even selling Iron House Wheat Beer at the café for a lazy $3.50. It clearly wasn’t the freshest beer around, but it nicely washed down some fish and chips. I also spotted an interesting little tid bit that proved people were cooking with beer even before it was cool.
After farewelling Port Arthur we journeyed towards Hobart and the end of our trip. First stop was the Museum of Old and New Art and the birthplace of Moo Brew. Once again our timing wasn’t great and we weren’t able to tour the main production brewery at Bridgewater. I had already sampled all but one of the Moo core range and I was saving the hefeweizen for last. Recently awarded the Gold Medal at the Australian International Beer Awards, Moo’s Hefe is as good a wheat beer as any I’ve had. I’ve been off wheat beers ever since I first discovered the Brisbane German Club and thought it was a good idea to drink 15 pints of Erdinger Weissbier. I did this on roughly five occasions before I decided that all the vomiting wasn’t worth it. With this tainted history in mind, the Moo Hefe has well and truly welcomed me back into the gentle, loving embrace that is wheat beer.
After being thoroughly confused and enraged at the parking situation in and around Salamanca Place (I mean seriously, Hobart – invest in some long term parking lots), we decided we’d settle in for a bit of a session. Jack Greene is a comfortable and very popular pub located directly on Salamanca Place. It packs 16 beer taps and a burger menu that won’t quit. I can confirm that they sell the best wallaby burger I’ve ever had (by default). The place is decked out with leather lounges, fireplaces, lamp shades and timber accents – the perfect complement to a Tasmanian winter.
Unlike the tap list, which provided me with my only gripe: there is 16 taps at this place and apparently only room for one dark beer? It’s freaking 2° outside and you’ve got eight beers that are pales, pilseners or lagers, a saison, a ginger beer, a cider, three IPAs, an amber and a solitary black lager. I don’t get it?
The next stop was Preacher’s which is located a couple of streets back from Salamanca Place. I really, really liked this joint. The building is very obviously a converted homestead so it’s pretty warm and cosy – plus the beer garden comes complete with a stationary bus with its seats ripped out and some tables screwed in. It would be fantastic on a sunny Sunday afternoon, but on a school night in winter it was mostly deserted.
Preacher’s had a much more balanced tap line up and also had a hand pump serving up some Two Metre Tall Soured Ale which was just outstanding.
The two stand outs for part two are as follows:
IPAison – Morrison’s Brewery – On tap @ Jack Greene
Brewed for the 2014 GABS festival this is an IPA Saison hybrid. The initial taste is all hoppy bitterness but there is the typical earthy, estery saison flavour towards the end. Well balanced and surprisingly easy to drink.
Soured Ale – Two Metre Tall Brewing – Hand pump @ Preacher’s
So dry. So sour. So fucking delicious. My very first non berliner weisse sour and definitely won’t be the last. This beer will make you salivate excessively. Can’t recommend highly enough. Really bummed that the brewery was closed throughout winter.
And just like that it was all over. I drank more beer than I should have, but not half as many as I would have liked. I think Untappd had my final count at around 40 unique beers which I suppose isn’t a bad effort for a week’s sojourn. Good bloody onya Tasmania. You’re alright.