Thursday, January 26, 2012

IMAX ? or Pumphouse

Well, it's not often that Libby (my wife) suggests that I should spend some time in a pub. Not much of a beer drinker herself, she tends to view my proclivities with disdain.

Today, however, we escorted our offspring through the wonders of Sydney's Darling Harbour ("no you can't go on that", "keep away from the edge", "don't talk to that man".....) with the end-goal of catching a movie at the big IMAX cinema. Libby suggested that they would take the movie, and I should go to the Pumphouse... At times I do have selective hearing, but on this occasion she didn't need repeat herself.

The Pumphouse was an old stomping ground.... with on-site beers such as Federation Ale, Thunderbolt, and Brewers, it was quite ahead of the pack in the 80s/90s. After an hiatus, it has returned with an internal wash of post-industrialism, and a beer selection of outstanding merit.

The thing about this place is that every barman I've met here has known his stuff, loved his stuff, and happy to share his stuff (today, at least..read on).

Today's visit started with Weiss City, the house wheat from St Peters Brewery. This is a decent hefe, with some additional IBU angst, which makes it a bit meaner than your average Bavarian.... 13/20

Holgate's Road Trip is, according to mein host Ash, a response to the brewers' trip to West Coast USA. So, yeah, it's a big IPA, but for mine, quite caramelly and richly bodied. It's an ongoing debate in some forums (fora ?) about the difference in IPA from one side of America to the other. West Coast is all about hops, East Coast about malt & body. This beer seems more East than West, to me at least. But so what.

Regardless, the Road Trip is a see-saw of hops and malt. A flavoursome ale, and good on tap. 14/20.

After the draught beers, time to look in the fridge. I noticed a somewhat discretely labelled bottle that shared the names of the much lauded Norwegian Nøgne Ø, and our own Bridge Road Brewers. In a trans-continental collaboration, the beer is India Saison.... This is a fine, fine beer. Expensive yes (cost me $15 a 330ml stubby), but a wonderful use of Aussie hops (Galaxy, Stella) atop a fine saison profile of spice, dank, and funk. A rare find, and a rare treat. 17/20.

Ash (my host and new friend) felt that at this stage he could offer me something else. The keg remnant of Mikkeller's It's Alive! was sitting idly in a growler bottle... for his later enjoyment. But, much to his credit, he offered me a glass (on him), for which I will be eternally grateful. A tribute to the classic Trappist beer Orval, this goes a step further. Full of Brett & funk & barnyard, it's also overlaid with cara malts, bringing with it some more body and sweetness than one would expect with Orval. 18/20

Funnily enough, some young poseur from Canberra fronted up to the bar and started to bemoan that he missed the keg. Ash said "shake my hand and I may have some for you". It took the goose a couple of seconds to realise he was onto a good thing, but even still, his attitude cost him $10.50...... So folks, it pays to give the barman respect, introduce yourself, and listen well to his opinions.

I finished with another Mikkeller.... Monks Elixir. Styled as a Belgian Quad/Abt, this is a significantly good ale..... it's like a Pecan Pie with a dram of Speyside malt. A great beer. 16/20.

At the end of it all, my young family swung by and carted me away. Probably a good thing.

The Pumphouse is a strange venue. Strangely located & strangely decorated. But it is committed to beer.



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