Tasting At Paddy's

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Well, it was a big weekend for the old farts from Newcastle. Train from Broadmeadow to Flemington then the big trek right across the Flemington markets to Paddy's brewery at the Markets Pub.

Gerard had eight beers on tap and was happy to suggest the sequence that would best show off the range of flavours and styles.

We fortified ourselves for the night with a meal from the bistro -- some of the biggest steaks I've ever seen -- then got on with the tasting.

First, the clear wheat beer, next the hefeweizen followed by the pilsener, the amber, the pale ale, (I think we got out of sequence there) the brewers delight, the chocolate porter and the Christmas stout. All these for a dollar middy, including a chocolate mousse to go with the Porter.

Someone else has the tasting notes so I won't try to describe each of the beers but suffice to say that each time we tried a new one we were just delighted. We've had some nice beers in our time but we were blown away by the quality what we were tasting.

What I couldn't believe was that there were only about 30 or 40 people who were taking advantage of the evening. The locals were out in the main bar drinking VB and Tooheys at regular Pub prices.

Nevertheless, those of us who found our way into the tasting room had a great night and it was a good opportunity to meet some of the people from this board and have a bit of a talk about beer and brewing.

Just to make sure that we'd got the right impression of Gerard's products we forced ourselves to do a retaste of a few before we found our way upstairs for a few hours of unconsciousness.

All of us agreed that for anyone with an interest in beer a trek to Flemington every now and then is highly recommended.

One of the guys had to bail out and head back to Newcastle because of a family commitment but the two of us who were left decided that we shouldn't waste the opportunity to have a trawl around a few drinking establishments in Sydney to see what was on offer.

A big breakfast first at the pub bistro then back across the markets to Flemington Station and in to Circular Quay. We decided to limit ourselves to the rocks area because we particularly wanted to call in at Geoffrey Scharer's Australian hotel.

We first stuck our heads into the main bar of the Ship Inn and found a St. Arnou pilsener on tap so that was our first for the day. Very nice, but with a little less pronounced floral hop character and mouth filling flavour than last night's example.

Headed towards the Australian but were seduced by the variety advertised on the blackboard of the Lowenbru Keller. The last time I was there they seemed to have very little on offer but this time there was an interesting range of beers on tap.

The young guy behind the bar heard me say to my mate that the Franziskaner Hefeweissbier looked interesting. His eyes lit up and he said, "Ah,you are interested in beer, yes?" I told him we were always interested in beer and in trying as many different styles as possible. He said, "Then you are very welcome here, not like those guys who come in and say 'haven't you got any VB mate?'"

We opted for a Spaten Lager. At six bucks for 330 mls it was a bit of a change from last night but it was a smooth and satisfying beer and we could have been persuaded to settle in, but we were on a mission.

We agreed that a return trip would be in order but that we might have to save up a bit first.

Next it was the Australian hotel where normally I'd go straight for a Scharer's Lager and the Burragorang Bock, but today we chose a Little Creatures Pilsener followed by a Little Creatures Pale and Matilda Bay Rooftop Red Lager.

After all that a sobriety break seemed a good idea and we headed off for a walk to the other side of The Rocks. The thermometer was heading for around 38 so we didn't spend too much time in the sun.

We knew wed end up at the Lord Nelson for a few of their beers but we headed first for the amazingly retro Palisade hotel. Not much in the way of beer, but probably one of the few remaining pubs in the area that hasn't yet been gentrified. We had a Coopers pale and wandered upstairs to have a look at the views from the balconies where for $400 a night on New Year's Eve you'd have a pretty good view of the fireworks on the bridge.

Time for lunch and the Lord Nelson was the obvious location. Started with a Quayle pale wheat beer (apparently named in honour of Dan Quayle who I think was Jimmy Carter's vice president -- I'm told he visited the Lord Nelson while he was in office and said some nice things about it). We teamed that with a green chicken curry to soak up some of the mornings intake then followed with another pale (can't quite remember what they call it). Strangely enough, the third beer we had has quite slipped my mind. :blink:

Decided to call it a day and head for the train but we realised that neither of us had ever been to the Captain Cook hotel so we felt that as we were in the area we should take the opportunity to visit. Tried a Saint Arnou blonde, which seemed to have a slightly sour taste until it started to warm up a bit. Followed that with a Heineken, which stood up reasonably well considering the quality of the beers wed been drinking, and headed back toward Circular Quay.

As luck would have it the Fortune of War lay in our way so we stuck our heads in just to see whether they had upgraded their choice of beers in the last time Id looked, which admittedly was quite a few years ago. They had three of the Squires brews but as we are Novacastrians we decided to be parochial and have a Bluetongue Lager.

I think it turned out to be the biggest weekend on the turps I've had for a long, long time but surprisingly the after effects were relatively mild. Must be due to the fact that we were walking between venues and went for quality as well as quantity.

Glad to see that you guys enjoyed the weekend. For those that didn't make it on Saturday night, Paddy's Hefe will be on tap until the keg runs dry. be quick.