A few beers in Melbourne

Yesterday Andy, John and I spent an afternoon wandering around Melbourne city centre. Having lived here for five years, I can’t believe we haven’t had an all day pub crawl before now. :-??

First stop was the Charles Dickens Tavern on Collins St where, over a pint of Tetleys, we reviewed the itinerary that I’d put together the night before. Most of the pubs on my list are quirky, which either serve Aussie craft beer or have a good range of imported stuff. I like the Charles Dickens; it’s hidden away in a basement below one of Melbourne’s busiest streets, but inside it’s like stepping back to the 1970s, it has a few English beers on tap and it’s also a great place to watch football (they show every big game).

Next up, just across the road to the Sherlock Holmes Inn. This is another low-ceilinged downstairs bar which you could easily miss if you didn’t know about it. It’s only a small place and, on a Friday lunchtime, it was packed to bursting. Hobgoblin was on draught here.

Third was the Mitre Tavern, pictured above, which was possibly my favourite find of the day. This claims to be the oldest building in Melbourne, dating back to 1837, tucked away in a laneway between Collins St and Little Collins St. It’s a real gem — lots of interesting drinks on tap and a shady beer garden. Our choice of Mountain Goat Steam Ale wasn’t great, but you’ve got to try these things. I’ll definitely go back there, it’d be fantastic in summer.

The Saint & Rogue, a little further up Little Collins St, was next. A pint of St Arnou and some food to soak it up. Although the food was good, the beer wasn’t up to much. We were also asked to move from the nice comfy Chesterfield seats to make way for a private function which didn’t seem to materialise, so I wasn’t too impressed with this one.

Heading back into town, we stopped off in the Irish Times Hotel, supposedly Melbourne’s smallest Irish pub. Nothing special, would probably skip this one next time.

No day out in Melbourne would be complete without a visit to a James Squire Brewhouse, so we called at the Portland Hotel on Russell St for a pint of their porter.

We then paid a visit to The Elephant & Wheelbarrow on Exhibition St, always worth a visit for the range of English beers on tap.

Our last stop, just across the road, was the European Bier Cafe which was packed to the rafters, as you’d expect on a Friday evening. I reckon this place would be great at a quieter time, but it was just too loud to be enjoyable despite the excellent draught Hoffbrau.

We hopped on the train where we finished the day off with a really good curry in Bayswater. (Thanks for picking us up, Johanne.)

Considering most Aussie pubs are rubbish — they look the same, serve the same range of uninteresting mass-produced licensed beer, even serve the same food — I think we did pretty well for a first attempt at a Melbourne pub crawl. It’s all about doing a bit of homework and planning the route. Next time we’ll probably focus on a different part of the city, such as Richmond or Collingwood where there are a few interesting places.

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