Merideth turned 40 this week and she is not really embracing the milestone. Instead of making our normal holiday pilgrimage to Europe, I decided a trip to Australia was what Merideth needed to cure the turning 40 blues. This would be our first beer adventure outside of North America or Europe.
The onset of winter in California, chilly temperatures and a forecast for lots of rain, made perfect timing for our journey to Australia. On landing in Sydney in the morning after a 14.5 hour flight, we were told the temperature was a pleasant 71 degrees. Nice…
After finally getting our bags and clearing quarantine, we were quickly in our rental car headed to our first destination, Paddy’s Brewery. Located in the Sydney suburb of Flemington, Paddy’s was also where we were staying on our first night. We somewhat easily found it, with only one wrong turn that was quickly corrected.
While I think I got plenty of sleep on the flight, my tired mind wasn’t quite prepared for Paddy’s. Entering the somewhat sleek reception area full of gaming machines, we waited as a gentleman cashed in on what looked liked a several hundred dollar jackpot. Merideth and I looked at each other asking with our eyes, “Are we in the right place?” After checking in, the manager offered to show us around. Walking to the back of the building, there was a much more familiar setting; the brewery and pub. Seeing the brewing equipment was a relief, we were in the right place.
After a quick shower, we settled into their beer garden to have a few beers, check email and wait for our friends Ute and Wolfie to arrive. Bellying up to the bar to order a few pints, I get the second surprise of the day; a pretty, young, blond waitress in bra, panties and high heels (all black) standing next to me. She ordered a couple of beers from the bartender, placed them on her tray and sauntered back to her customers. This could be a whole new spin on beer travel! Pints in hand, I practically ran back to Merideth to tell her the good news. She wasn’t impressed.
Later, I would learn that this was a feature of a particular type of bar in Australia… unfortunately something that is not commonplace for brewpubs. And no, I didn’t take a picture. Not that I didn’t want to, I just didn’t know if that was something one did in Australia. I didn’t really want to have to explain on the One Pint at a Time episode why I had a black eye.
As for the beers, they were solid. Year in and year out, Paddy’s consistently wins Australian International Beer Awards so they must be doing something right. We tried the Pilsner, Pale Ale, India Pale Ale and Chocolate Porter and were pleased with our first introduction to Australian brew.
After catching up with Ute and Wolfie, we parted ways to meet up later. We had a few hours to kill so we caught the train into Sydney to play normal tourist. Getting off at Circular Quay, we had no real plan so we started to wander around The Rocks, the original part of Sydney.
Our first impressions were of a young and hip city that, on a Friday afternoon, takes off early from work to hit the pubs. As we wandered the streets of the Rocks, the bars were already packed full of the twenty-somethings starting the weekend. Our last three days of the trip are back in Sydney so I am sure we will much more to say about Australia’s most well known city.
It was time to meet our first Australian contact. Taking a cab across the city to the Darlinghurst neighborhood, we were scheduled to meet Todd from beermen.tv at one of Sydney’s craft beer hot spots, the Local Taphouse. I was excited to meet Todd, not only because he was a local contact, but also so that I could unload the 9 bottles of craft brew from the States that I had been lugging around Sydney.
With locations in both Sydney and Melbourne, the Local is a pioneer in serving craft beer. Quite a different scene from Paddy’s, the Local was full of the same hip, young crowd we saw downtown. Over a few Aussie beers, we talked with Todd about the Aussie beer scene and planned for our appearance on their holiday beer episode when we returned to Sydney.
If we were pleased by our earlier experience at Paddy’s, we were delighted by the beers we tried at the Local. My first beer was Alpha Pale Ale from Matilda Bay Brewing. A West Coast (USA) inspired hoppy brew, it could easily stand alongside its American counterparts. Same with Feral Brewing’s Hop Hog, an American-style IPA and Little Creatures Pale Ale. Unfortunately, we wouldn’t be visiting any of these breweries as all are on the other side of the continent.
We took our leave of Todd to meet back up with Ute and Wolfie at the Lansdowne Hotel. We were supposed to see a punk band, the Rumjacks, but Merideth quickly faded after one beer and a bad opening act. Not knowing what really to expect, We certainly had an interesting first day in Australia.