Down at my dilapidated old men’s pub last week I was met with a sign that the state’s microbrewers scene had hit the mainstream. The sign? A slightly garish tap from a Victorian microbrewer stationed directly next to the mainstay offering brewed locally in Abbotsford (Carlton Draught, if you didn’t catch that).
And it’s perhaps this sign that has lead to the ongoing success of Melbourne’s best beer shop, Slowbeer. Located in Hawthorn, this tiny store stocks every microbrew worthy of space on their shelves.
There are no big cool rooms with pallets full of slabs for your mate’s BBQ. Instead, the perfectly lined shelves abound with treats to delight beer nerds and provide a gateway to the newly knowledgeable. And while Victoria takes a standout place on the world beer scene, there are other localised pockets of similarly grouped amazing brewers, all of which are on display at Slowbeer.
Denmark and Norway are producing some outstanding dark-style beers with a trend toward cask finishing, which involves storing the beers in the discarded casks of rum, whisky and sherry producers (among others). The results are outstanding.
Northern California, Canada, Italy, Scotland and Japan all have thriving craft-beer industries and there’s a host of their offerings available. The classic and historical brewing nations aren’t neglected either, with Belgium, the UK and Germany taking up their fair share of shelving.
Make no mistake, this is the best-stocked craft-beer shop in the country. Seasonally applicable rotations ensure that consumers get to experience a full range of beers and at the times when it’s most appropriate. But the real kicker to this whole set-up? The growlers. Grab yourself a custom two-litre glass bottle and have it filled from the in-house tap for around $20. Take it home and you’ll get up to three or four days out of it. Just about every week there’s a new keg on from a local or international brewer. The bonus for beer-loving consumers is a fresher beer, but it also gives you access to limited editions only released in kegs.
Any of you approaching Slowbeer with apprehension will be glad to know that they offer informal tastings most Friday nights. This is one of the better ways to ease yourself and your palette into the world of craft beers. If you get bitten by the craft-beer bug, they run some more informative sessions about brewing methods and styles so you can really talk the talk next time you see a craft brew down at your old men’s boozer.
63 Burwood Road, Hawthorn